This morning, I opened the blinds in my bedroom to find that a thin layer of snow, covered by a thicker layer of ice, had indeed blanketed my backyard. My house is perched on top of a hill that my four-year-old neighbor aptly named Mystery Mountain, though, and by the time John had shoveled the ice and snow from the curvy mountain pass (our driveway), we were too late to go sledding with T. When we finally arrived at my parents', she was already exhausted from flying down the slick streets on a sled with my dad and other neighborhood kids and their dads. Instead, I tromped down to the basement with her in my sledding outfit - leggings, warm-up pants, a thermal, fleece jacket and fleece hat - to play Wii bowling. I stood behind her and told her when to release the trigger to send the ball rolling down the virtual lane, and together, we almost beat Mom (who is ridiculously talented at some of the Wii Sports games, including boxing; today, she knocked me out with a killer shot to the kneecap). Just before John and I headed home, T and I played music together - she on her keyboard, I on her electric drum pad. We may not have gotten to fly down the frozen streets on her sled together, but we bowled, and we rocked, and she laughed and smiled. It was a good day.
Later this evening, John and I ate dinner in an unconventional spot - at the coffee table in our great room, by a crackling fire with most of the lights off and the shouts of kids outside, still sledding in the sub-20 degree night air, faint but close. Just as we finished, John happened to glance out the window and discover that it was snowing again - visible only by the flakes floating softly downward in a column bathed in the yellow light of the street lamp. As each flake completed its journey through the warm glow and out of sight, into the cold darkness of our frozen cul-de-sac, the neighborhood kids' shouts were silenced for a moment, and in their place I again heard T's laughter. I felt at once sad that I'd missed sledding with my sister and at the same moment intensely grateful for the afternoon we shared together instead. And as the last lonely flake left the light and entered the darkness, I smiled.