Within hours of my first son’s birth in Minneapolis, the ground started glistening as though a fairy had sprinkled dust over the entire city.
No, I wasn’t still high on the cocktail of drugs. It was the end of November and a blizzard had set in, covering everything with a blanket of thick white snow and turning the houses, with their undisturbed snowy roofs, into works of art.
We drove BB home from the hospital – very gingerly – in a snow storm and during the first two years of his life in the midwest of America, there was snow and ice on the ground for at least four months each winter.
Yet, of all this, BB remembers nothing! Despite my valiant efforts to bundle a wriggling, obstinate toddler into an all-in-one snow suit (I honestly think it would have been easier to dress an octopus) and drag him along on a sled, he has no recollection of the fluffy, white stuff.
LB has never seen real snow and so it was with great excitement that we set off last week to the top of a mountain range in Lebanon. Our goal was to build LB’s first ever snowman and so carrots were grabbed from the kitchen, jumpers stuffed into the back of the car.
I have to admit I was sceptical: it was so hot in Beirut. How could there possibly still be snow, I wondered? The temperature remained warm even as we climbed higher – our slow ascent through 1850 metres monitored by my DH and his Dad who, being pilots, checked the altitude on the car’s GPS at every opportunity.
Songs were sung, wrong turns taken, then, low and behold, we suddenly saw snowy peaks! Real snow pasted on the already-stunning scenery like icing sugar.
The winding mountain road led us to a ski resort called Faraya, closed now for the season but beautiful nevertheless. Beautiful and cold.
Straight out of the desert in Crocs and with a constitution that means they shiver in the refrigerated section of the supermarket, the boys whined at first – but after wrapping LB in a pashmina and donating DH’s socks to BB (who knew we’d need winter clothes in the Middle East?) we set about building our snowman with cold wet hands.
A glamorous Lebanese lass climbed on a snowmobile – driven to the very edge of the snow so she wouldn’t get her bejewelled black-suede boots wet – and set off at speed clinging to her boyfriend. If she can do it, I can too, I thought – and so I hopped on the back when the boys went for a spin.
Precious memories were made, but I have to admit one of the most memorable moments was a conversation in the car on the way up:
“Have you ever seen snow before?” my mother-in-law asked the boys.
“Yes,” they replied, nodding their heads earnestly.
“Where? In England? America?” she prompted.
“Nooo. Dubai,” corrected BB, as though it was the most obvious answer and you’d be a ninny to think otherwise.
And then, “Will we see penguins on the mountain Grannie Jane?”
Ski Dubai (our ski slope in a shopping mall and home to the most-pampered penguins in the world) has a lot to answer for!