Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

November 15, 2013

Lessons from a teen's first snow

By Lindsey Ziliak
Tribune staff writer

— Sixteen-year-old Lucas Toniolo ran outside his new home Monday night in Kokomo and looked up to see the first snowflakes of the season falling from the sky.

“I was in my pajamas, and it was freezing,” he told me this week. “But I didn’t care.”

He stood there for at least an hour just watching the snow fall. He waited so long, in fact, that when he was done watching, there was enough snow on the ground to make tiny snowballs and have his first-ever snowball fight.

He had been waiting for this his whole life.

Lucas is from Brazil, a place where it never snows. During cold winter days there, the temperature falls to maybe 65 degrees.

So Lucas came to Indiana through an exchange program, in part, to fulfill a lifelong dream, he told me.

And on Monday night, he did.

Lucas’ house parent, Casey Cline, captured the moment on camera.

This brown-haired, bright-eyed teen is posing for the picture in his flannel pants and a long sleeve T-shirt. He’s showing off the little bit of snow he could find on the ground, and his mouth is hanging open in shock and wonder.

He looks so happy, the kind of pure and unadulterated joy you often see in children but rarely see in adults.

I was snuggled under the covers at my apartment and cursing Mother Nature under my breath when I stumbled across the photo on Twitter.

I smiled. And nothing about snow ever makes me smile.

To prove my point, I give you Exhibit A: my tweet from Monday afternoon.

“I do not like that forecasters are calling for up to an inch of snow tonight,” I wrote. “It’s too early to start this, Mother Nature. Do you hear me?”

She did not. Go figure.

And so we got these ugly little snowflakes that made me want to run straight back to my bed where I could pull my covers over my head and hibernate until winter is over.

I hate that I hate snow. I hate that God’s beauty looks to me like a messy, freezing hassle that leaves roads slippery and windshields icy.

I hate that I lost my sense of wonder.

It didn’t used to be that way. I vaguely remember snow days filled with sledding and snow angels and snowmen and snow forts,

And for a fleeting moment when I saw that picture, I remembered how much joy all those things once brought me. I remembered how beautiful a fresh snow can be.

So thank you, Lucas. Your sense of wonder was contagious.

Just don’t get too carried away. I know you want a blizzard, but I’m still recovering from this dusting.

And we know that Mother Nature doesn’t care what I think.

— Lindsey Ziliak

[friday] Editor/ Waiting for spring