I took this photo four years ago in Southampton, UK. My best friend and I went away for a couple of months to France and England after a particularly bad year for us both. My friends mother had passed away suddenly, my parents marriage had ended and an ongoing back injury from an accident made it impossible for me to work or study. We just needed to get away for a while.
Our parents met in England when we were toddlers. A few months later mine migrated to Perth, Australia. My friends family followed soon after. We have known each other our whole lives. We behave like siblings and have spent so much time in each others company that most people assume we are related. We finish each others sentences, bail each other out of trouble at any hour and often have entire conversations in a rapid, coded language which leaves others confused.
Having lived in Australia for as long as we can remember, we had never seen snow. I think for many Australians snow is a fascinating and romantic concept. Images of winter, especially traditional depictions of Christmas are of this fantastic white landscape with scarves, and snowmen. Here Christmas is usually ridiculously hot, and the closest thing to a white landscape is the sand on the beach. Snow for most of us is a myth.
We stayed at my cousins house right before Christmas at the end of ‘99. He and his wife were away and we had this amazing house all to ourselves. For a month we had been praying for snow. The weather had been freezing by our standards of what it means to be cold. Everyone kept telling us that snow was unlikely. We kept our eye on the forecasts but the most we got was rain.
A couple of nights before Christmas snow arrived briefly. I had a disposable black and white camera with a built in flash. We ran around outside dancing in the snow not even realising how cold it was. I love this photo. It had been a hard year and this was the first time I had seen my friend look truly happy in a long time. Seeing snow for the first time was so amazing. We were captivated. It only lasted a few hours and it was probably more of a sprinkle than real snow fall but for us it was very real. We even gathered up enough to make a miniature snowman.
The photo really reminds me of that time. How bad things had been and how something as simple as a little snow made us forget everything for a few hours. It makes me remember that even when things are bad, sometimes just going to the beach for a swim, or watching the waves, or standing in the rain, or watching a sunset can make getting through it a seem little easier.
Dean Toussaint (Perth, Australia)
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