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November 10, 2003
Nobody will believe me but you, my friend said.

She had been telling me about waking in the middle of the night and seeing snow on the ground. That the grass and the car and the roofs of the houses were all covered in white. That she woke in the morning to find that it had all vanished without a trace. She was amazed.

Of course, she's from Trinidad, where frost never happens, where strange crystals of soft ice do not collect on each blade of grass and each leaf. It looked like snow to her.

Jack Frost has come in the night, my grandmother would say, and he had: he had traced intricate lace on our windows, carefully filled in one corner of each pane with his brush. I would stand before the window from the inside and look: his art was mysterious, three-dimensional, canyons and trees and mountains like those in a Chinese scroll painting, each pane different.

In certain lights, the whole world is silver, not just the cold places. In the British Virgin Islands, we walked through the coconut palms toward Little Trunk for an evening picnic years ago and saw the familiar little beach utterly transformed: the water was silver, the sand silver, the rocks black against the silver sky. My children were little then, but even they were shocked by that mysterious beauty into an unwonted silence.

Perhaps the whole world really is silver. Perhaps it is magic of the type you imagined when you were little, when you thought your dolls and toys might play together in the night when nobody was looking, that your pets might talk to each other when no human was around to hear. When you thought that magic might be everywhere and wanted to sneak up on it and see. All manner of beauty might be happening while the world sleeps, and nobody ever sees.

Other things happen while we are not looking. I slept last night away while another soldier met a bomb by the side of the road, and I didn't see. I woke to a new number: 159 killed. Twenty or thirty thousand of theirs. I didn't mean to close my eyes to his parents' loss, to his life cut off before he really had a chance to experience it. I didn't deliberately close my eyes to any of it.

But it was night here, and I didn't see.
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