A few weeks ago it snowed during the week. Dushanbe doesn't get much snow - I think three snowfalls total this winter - so when it actually does snow, the children like to go out to play. There's something magical about playing in falling snow and I'm much more okay with going out in the snow now that I have the proper gear.
So after everyone had finished school we went to the local park. Tajiks aren't much fond of snow because they're sane people and snow makes your life difficult when you don't have central heating and have to get everywhere by walking and marshrutka. It makes sense. This means that we have the park to ourselves while everyone else is staying inside, wisely trying to stay warm.
When we showed up the park was, as usual on a snowy day, empty. The children got to work trying to sled (the snow wasn't quite deep enough), playing dogsled instead, and building various iterations of the snow castle. I love that the children always have somebody to play with; it's a definite perk of large families.
As the children played, I sat and watched. Like I said, everyone has someone to play with, which means my job is sitting. After awhile I noticed a mom walking through the park with her child. Within a few minutes, the child had dragged her mother over to play near my children. Before long she was happily making snowballs and depositing them in an equally happy Eleanor's lap. "Ball!" Eleanor would exclaim each time a new one appeared. I'm not exactly sure how this was fun, but they both enjoyed it.
Ten minutes later, a boy showed up on his bike. We had passed him on our way to the park, and he must have been bored enough to wonder what these five brightly dressed children carrying sleds were up to. Before long, he was pulling Edwin on a sled followed by the girls pulling him.
Next was a group of teenaged girls. The came over to ask if they could borrow an unused sled and left with Sophia in the sled. Another came in, enticed by all of the fun, and pretty soon a snow party was in full swing at the jog track. The girls were pulling the boy, Edwin and Joseph were being pulled by someone else, Eleanor was surrounded by snowballs, and my girls were practicing their Russian with everyone they met. Where there was once an empty park there were now friends-for-the-afternoon all enjoying a snowy day together.
In time everyone slipped away, heading back to class or home or riding the streets alone and we left last to warm up with hot tea, leaving the park empty again. But the snow bore record to our party, once pristine and now covered with footprints and sled tracks and snowballs, never used. Perhaps we may never meet our snow afternoon friend again, but everyone will remember that afternoon every time they pass the park, the afternoon of the snow party.