Writer’s Block: Remembering Last Year’s Snow Day

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

At this very moment, as I sit at my desk typing this week’s column, I’m listening to the dulcet sounds of Bing Crosby as he croons, “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.”

Feeling festive, and eager to partake in holiday cheer, I’ve been listening to the Classic Christmas station on Spotify most of the week. Silver Bells, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Santa Baby, Jingle Bell Rock, Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! and a host of other holiday favorites have been filling my ears for the past couple of days.

So, it wasn’t a surprise when White Christmas rolled up the queue. But, it was coincidental that it happened at the precise moment when my mind had begun to wander and I’d begun to reminisce about something that happened last December, a very relevant something which happened almost a year ago to the day, as a matter of fact.

For it was on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017, that the entire Rio Grande Valley got an early Christmas present. Snow.

From Roma to Raymondville and San Juan to South Padre Island, a layer of white covered the landscape. Forecasters had been talking about the approaching Arctic blast for days. Temperatures would dip below freezing, they said. But, the moisture in the air would fail to coalesce into anything more interesting than frigid, sloppy rain.

But, something changed between those first, tentative forecasts and the conditions that actually materialized in the overnight hours between Thursday and Friday. Like a jigsaw puzzle piece snapping into place, just so, all the right variables lined up in all the right ways that night. Instead of sloshy rain, we were treated to snow!

Locally, Laguna Vista seemed to have gotten the most snow — and it stuck around a bit longer there, too. As I drove up and down the streets of the small town hoping to take photographs that captured the moment, I saw yards dotted with snowmen.

And here and there, our native mesquite trees — known as a drought and heat tolerant species — looked rather majestic with layers of white dusting the tops of their sprawling branches. But, perhaps the oddest juxtaposition were the palms with their fronds laden with the white stuff.

I laughed as I traveled down another street and saw a most disgruntled looking bird perched on a telephone wire that stretched across the lane. It was an osprey — a migratory species that likes to call the Valley home during the wintertime because of our usually balmier climate.

He looked none too pleased as fat snowflakes landed and stuck on his shoulders. Poor guy probably didn’t get any fishing done that day. But, considering the bay’s normally sparkling turquoise waters had been frothed up into a frigid, chocolatey brown mess by the north wind, I didn’t blame him.

As I trekked across the Causeway, that same wind buffeted my small car. The air was crisp, clear and fierce. And it was on the island where the snowfall picked back up again. There, it mixed with the relative warmth of the moisture coming off the Gulf to form thick, fat globs more so than individual snowflakes.

Still, the breeze was stiff enough to keep them aloft, and they swirled around me like fuzzy confetti. I may or may not have tried to catch one on my tongue. Sometimes you just have to surrender to your inner childlike sense of wonder.

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