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On the evening of December 10th, 2014, I was scheduled to meet a pediatric resident at a restaurant for dinner. At that moment, I had only four minutes to spare. I threw on a lightweight jacket, thundered down two flights of stairs, burst through the back door, and then –

I stood in the doorway, blinking the haze away from my eyes. For a moment, I wondered why I could not see clearly. Millions of white flecks fluttered down from the dark sky. I admired how the miniscule crystals melted instantaneously on my glove, leaving nothing but cold beads of water.

It was snow.


The midnight view from my bedroom window, with flash.

That night, I stayed up long past a reasonable bedtime in the darkness of my bedroom, gazing out the open window. With a crisp breeze in my face, and snowflakes falling over my fingertips, I took pictures of the landscape I had come to know so well, transforming before my eyes.

Dawn view from my bedroom window.

Walking to and from school was the highlight of my week. I bypassed as many sidewalks as I could, opting instead for the lawns blanketed with snow. I had forgotten how snow felt under my feet – firmer than cotton, softer than bread, best described as a sea of glass wool. I was late for my dermatology classes because I took so many breaks to take pictures and throw snowballs at the sky.

The Penn State Hershey College of Medicine campus, in the snow.

The Penn State Hershey College of Medicine campus, in the snow.

The afternoon after the snowfall, I grew tired of dermatology and invited a Californian classmate for a study break. We ran up the hill behind our school and threw snowballs at each other for 45 minutes.

What a sight we must have been – two Californians running amok on melting snow, and fumbling with an amorphous structure that looked more like a mound over a grave than a snowman.

A Californian "snowman."

A Californian “snowman.”

In medical school, I have had the opportunity to enjoy snow. Last year, when I was on my medical school interview tour on the East Coast, I never once bothered to touch snow. It would have been unwise to throw snowballs with polished interview shoes and a freshly pressed interview suit. Instead, snow became a substance to be feared, something that could soak through coats and cancel entire interview schedules.

This year, snow regained some of its novelty. I approached snow with the same fascination as I did during my first encounter with a snowman sixteen years ago, off a narrow twisting path in the mountains of Santa Barbara.

In the midst of our dermatology unit, I felt like a kid again.