We bumped and bounced our way out of Tirana and over the mountains west of the City on a combination of roads that were narrow and newly paved, newly paved and already deteriorating, and dirt and rock filled paths that hardly constitute as roads. We passed mountainside villages, grazing sheep, large expanses of barren, rock filled land, and icy mountain streams. As usual the scenery outside of the urban areas was amazing and reminded me that far from the crowds, traffic, and mounds of trash, this really is a wild and beautiful country. From his perch on the backseat Sidney commented on the animals in the road---donkeys, sheep, chickens, and yes a cow that raced us up a hill--- and also pointed out that there were lots of rocks everywhere. Albania is indeed a harsh and rocky place.
All it took was climbing out of a river valley and up into the mountains for the road to instantly turn from paved to rutted with rocks. In one moment there were only traces of snow and in the next all we could see was where the "road" was supposed to be was an endless snow covered countryside. Bouncing along was kind of fun and reminiscent of IPMT but not knowing what was actually under the snow, yet imagining the possibilities, made the going very slow. Until we couldn't go any further. Our vehicle finally met her match when the uneven surface below the snow, combined with the mountains of snow we had been plowing through, prevented us from continuing on our journey. This is when we really began to enjoy the snow.
It took some convincing to get Sidney out of the car but once he felt the snow under his feet he was immediately entranced. He ran back and forth across the open area yelling that "Sidney is running in the snow!" Someone living in a snow filled area might not understand his excitement but for the first time, rather than watching the snow from afar, Sidney was experiencing what it felt like to walk and run in the snow. The snow cushioned his falls and allowed him to immediately pick himself up and continue on his way. (My strange little boy, however, did not like the snow sticking to his pants). He shrieked with delight as he watched Glenn form snowballs and throw them at the surrounding trees and quickly tried to emulate him. (We do have a family understanding that snowballs are never to be thrown at Mamma). Sidney's fleecy mittens didn't allow the snowballs to easily be launched but through perserverence he finally found a way. Hitting the trees was an impossible challenge, but the parked car proved to be the perfect target.
Not wanting to be out in the boonies as darkness fell, we didn't stay as long as we would have liked to. A few tears were shed as we returned to the car and bounced our way back towards Tirana but Sidney's tears soon returned to joy as he prattled away about all things snow. We heard the narrative of how Sidney had been running in the snow, throwing snow, and playing in the snow. Unprompted, Sidney informed us that the day had been fun. Watching Sidney discover the snowy world around him reminded me that this is what childhood is supposed to be about. We don't need to take plane rides to the world's great cities, ride trains through the mountains, or spend money the latest gizmos and gadgets. Time spent together as a family and a simple snowball thrown in one's "backyard" is truly the most enjoyable and memorable aspects of childhood.
|Glenn demonstrating how throwing a snowball is done|
|The car made an easier target|
|Trying to figure out why the snowball sticks to his mittens when he tries to throw it|
|Glenn demonstrates making a snow angel; Sidney would have nothing to do with this|