fire & snow

I remember that very cold night. It had snowed hard all day. My friend Hamid and I decided to take his Jeep and go to Vakilabad, near Mashhad. We wanted to get away from the city lights to really enjoy the shapes and shadows of trees on the moonlit blanket of snow.

The drive from Vakilabad took about 30 minutes. Both sides of the road were lined with either mulberry or senobar trees, with their shining cover of snow.

Two young souls on a deserted road with its snow-covered open spaces framed by mature trees along a stream on a moonlit nigh!

The stream on the right side of the road followed along the trees curving and embracing each tree in its determination to stay close.

As we drove past this symphony of sparkling light, Hamid asked if I had ever burned snow? What? Burn snow? Let's try it, I said.

We siphoned some gas from our car into a few bottles and wrote our names and created some designs on the snow and lit it. Wow!

The picture of clear burning gas on a blanket of powdery-white snow under the shimmering light of the moon was etched in my memory forever. I can see the blue flames reaching high up in the air joining the silver rays of the moon to draw an image worthy of Mona Lisa's smile.

The beauty in the air was unmatched by anything we had ever seen. Then we decided to try to create flames on the steam. The water moving through the stream when lit has its own naz o kereshmeh. We poured more gas as we ran with the flames along the stream, following each pich o kham of the road.

It was about two in morning when we decided to go home and warm up. After driving about five miles on our way back, we ran out of gas on a country road not much traveled at night.

We spent the rest of the night holding each other's hands and huddling for warmth till dawn when a taxi driver rescued us.

Every year when I see the first snow of the season, images of that night dance in my head and I wonder where are the fires of my life and what ever happened to Hamid of my youth.

About the author

xAle (pronounced khaa-leh, maternal aunt in Persian) is an old timer who grew up in Iran when words such as mirAb, mAyeh khamir, Ab-anbAr and hAvan were part of daily life. Through stories and remembrances of old days, she will be sharing with us part of our past.


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