Friday, January 07, 2005


I can remember so clearly the feeling of excitement and anticipation as a winter storm approached that might make a big enough mess, to close down school when I was a kid. Our bus route covered a lot of miles daily, in my elementary school days, traveling old back roads used by stagecoaches and wagons in days of yore, which were quite treacherous in winter. Then when I was in high school, the bus also traveled the relatively new highway, to get to our new high school a few towns over.

In the days when my sister and I were both in school- me in the local elementary school and she at the old high school- we would wake up to listen to the school closings on the radio, in rapt silence awaiting the name of our school district. Only one station carried school closings in those days. Today I can find school closings in the online version of our local newspaper and TV station websites.

Upon hearing our school district named among the closed schools, my sister and I would “toast” one another with a chocolate chip cookie each (our mom baked cookies every week), celebrating our lucky snow day. When I had my own children, I cheered right along with them, if there was a snow day also!

So here we were, Wednesday night, anticipating some “weather”, a term used at any time of year, referring to something other than calm, clear skies in whatever season. In winter, of course, this term means some form of precipitation, and the attendant road conditions.

So preparations got under way before the weather came: more wood was brought inside, to make sure if extreme weather came there would be less need to go out into it, and the snow blower was tested to make sure it was in working order should we need to actually use it to get our driveway cleared. Then we went to bed, hoping for that phone call early the next morning signifying our good luck: a snow day called!

My husband is an educator at a regional vo-tech/alternative high school, and commutes around 40 miles one way, daily to his job. So even if the weather close by to our home is bad, the high school where he works may not close, and he will still have to make the messy drive to work. BUT if the significant school systems nearby to his job close, then the facility itself will close!

We held that good thought! This would be the very first snow day if they did close. There had been at least one day when school was postponed a couple of hours to give highway crews time to clear things up a bit and make the drive more safe, but so far, no snow days.

Our sons, who are ski technicians at the local ski center, already had the next day off per their work schedule, so they were rooting for their dad to have the day off too, of course- doesn’t everyone love a day off? A scheduled day off is wonderful, but an unscheduled day off is like finding hidden treasure!

Yesterday, 6 AM: Brrring! The phone rang with the message that indeed my husband’s school was closed. In this case, our nearby local schools were not closed, but those in the area of my husband’s work were! Yee Haw!

You might think we went back to sleep to luxuriate and savor the newly declared day off, snuggle down and enjoy this newly won free day. Not so!

We arose, and did all the usual stuff, because our dogs, being creatures of habit, still expected their walks and so on. But our assertion of freedom was that we did everything more slowly, in as relaxed a manner as we chose- because we COULD!

We took our time drinking coffee and hanging out. We took a couple extra minutes walking dogs to check out the snow, let the beasts roll around in it if they wanted to. We both noticed that though it was time for the sun to rise, and the sky to lighten up, it was actually not getting too much lighter. We just took extra time to be present in this extra day of freedom.

We sure made good use of the day too, taking advantage of it to go to town and do a couple loads of laundry. Yes, in this day and age, we still do not have our own personal washer and dryer at home and do our laundry in the local Laundromat. The couple who run the place are old friends, so we always have time to “swap howdies” with them. They are good folks.

We stopped in at the hardware store to pick up some necessities and saw the owner’s new pup- a very sweet Lab who already knows how to “sit”- what a good girl! We went to the supermarket, and laid in supplies, choosing to make a big turkey dinner, knowing that using the oven would heat up the house too.

When we got home, we hung out a bit and then took long luxurious naps. It was really nice to just sprawl out, and snooze. When we were both awake again, we put the turkey in to cook, and while it cooked, we took a walk out on the land.

It was still snowing, and there had been some icy patches to be aware and careful about when walking dogs out there over the last week or so. We chose to take walking sticks with us, to give us both the capability of being “tripods” if we needed to be, to help us be safer.

I was sad that I could not see the distant mountains across the valley, as the falling snows obliterated their existence like a veil draped over, but I still knew those mountains were there. Today will be a different story, as it is sunny and clearing. I imagine that today’s view will appear to have had powdered sugar sprinkled over it.

We observed the newly down trees that have fallen this winter, as we took a path not usually on the daily dog-walking itinerary. We took the path that goes back beyond the usual routes, back to where larger hardwood trees live and the larger softwoods often fall down, twisting and breaking off partway up their trunks. I don’t know what makes them fall…age, the wind, or what. I suspect a combination of things come to bear upon them.

We saw lots of woodpecker drilled tree parts. And the beech leaves, which stay on their branches, might as well be amplifiers; they “speak” quite loudly and tend to “overstate” whatever is going on: the wind’s rustling or the impact of the precipitation as it hits them. They do make one take note of what is happening though, calling us to pay attention.

One thing we saw which has been of note this year, is the water that continues to run throughout this winter. We have not seen this in other years, except come spring, when the melt-off forms seasonal brooks, babbling away, clear and clean, and cold as you can ever imagine.

There, underneath the snow in a few places, is running water, which has not, to our awareness, run in winter before. But then, we have not had such a mild winter in years either. Christmas was not exactly white, but not exactly brown either- depending on where you were around here.

It is an El Nino year, so that is something to consider in our musings, as well as the extremes that are elicited by global warming (as perceived by the reality-based community, of which I am a proud member).

So with our yummy turkey dinner, and subsequent baking of chocolate chip cookies by my younger son, we closed out our first snow day of the season with as much zeal and savoring of the freedom and opportunity it provided, as any snow day we experienced as children growing up. Today we awakened to Friday (TG’dessIF: Thank Goddess it’s Friday!) having enjoyed yesterday as a bonus “free day”!

Early this morning I saw in the semi-darkness just before the sun peeked over the mts, the very last crescent smidgeon of the moon- very beautiful. It was exposed as the clouds were clearing away.

The New Moon is Monday January 10, according to my calendar; a very auspicious time to “plant seeds” for goals you might like to see progressing or even fully manifested by the Full Moon (which is the 25th of this month). A former teacher used to encourage us to plan/plant goals at the New Moon. Try it! You never know!

I wish you a “snow day”, a bonus day, for some fun, to catch up with sleep, and of which to take advantage to it’s fullest to experience your world and all it offers!


At 7:23 PM, Blogger KoolKnitter said...

Sounds like your family really enjoyed your bonus day last week-thanks for sharing! Of course it's been very mild here, so we may not get a snow day this winter but it's nice to enjoy someone else's vicariously.

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