Pure. As a child, the idea of snow, captivated my imagination. No, not Snow, the “Informer” white reggae guy or a euphemism for “pure” cocaine. I’m taking about the stuff that became synonymous in my mind with Christmas and marshmallows floating in hot cocoa. Now here’s the funny part … as a kid living in Hawaii, we never had snow. Nope – miles and miles of crystal clear Pacific Ocean, yes, I did have just a short walk away from my home, but nothing even close to the snow that I longed for watching Winter specials on television. Snow just looked so fluffy and soft, just like clouds or vanilla cotton candy. Gazing at calendars hung on my family’s walls that had photographs of mountaintops covered in what seemed to be an endless marshmallow glacier layer. Snow was the stuff of dreams – an escape for a local boy from the tropical heat that made the Hawaiian islands so welcoming to mainland visitors during the winter months. However, my concept of snow was faulty because my youthful mind didn’t make the connection yet between water and snow. As an adolescent, I enjoyed going to the only ice skating rink on Oahu – Ice Palace. To my amazement I thought I saw what looked like snow forming as skates would scrape off the top layer of the ice onto the sides. I picked it up in my fingers, but it melted so quickly and just felt cold and not soft at all. I heard the other kids refer to this as “snow,” but I was adamant that real snow was not like this at all. Another example of my disconnect between snow and the element of water is the ever popular “snow cones,” which we do not have here in Hawaii. We call it “shave ice” because that’s literally what it is … shaved ice. It would take me eighteen years to finally see the natural phenomenon known as snow when I visited family in Oklahoma during the Christmas break. You could imagine the anticipation – the wonder as I stepped off a plane into freezing weather. I was mesmerized by the fact that icicles formed naturally on barren trees – instead of having to fling silver strips of foiled string as a representation. I couldn’t wait to touch snow and I was told that it would snow overnight. I couldn’t really sleep. The next morning I went out of the door and saw remnants of what seemed like snow and in my fingers felt like the same stuff in an ice skating rink in Hawaii. I looked around the neighborhood and this idea of something pure and beautiful, was tainted with the presence of humanity. Dirty snow. I asked my aunt if this was really snow. I didn’t want to accept the confirmation. Needless to say, I was sorely disappointed with snow. Maybe it was just the buildup of years of dreaming. But the story doesn’t end there. A few months ago, in Utah, I happened to encounter snow again. Yes, I saw the layers thick among the mountaintops – but I didn’t get to go there. Instead it was a simple evening grocery run, just stepping out the door and seeing little wisps of snow start to fall to the ground. It picked up as a flurry and I could feel what felt like soft – then wet – almost like invisible kisses against my skin. A light coat of snow covered the shrubs, cars, even the outdoor store trash cans … and in that moment right after the snow fell where it was untouched and pristine it made sense. This was snow I always imagined. I began to smile and transferred my joy into a smiley face on a white snow blanket on a red Target trash can. It began to warm up after I picked up the items I needed from Target. The snow began to melt again – transforming and then disappearing like a magic pumpkin from a fairy tale. It never snowed again during my visit, but that one experience – the purity of that moment – made me believe once again.