30 January, 2009


Crunch, crunch, slip slide, swear curse…

I thought about snow days as I made my way into work this morning on ice covered roads and sidewalks that had yet to see a shovel – and they probably won’t. 

The snow days I enjoyed seem like they happened ages ago – which they did.  I remember winter mornings when my brother and I would sit at the bar eating breakfast and listening to the radio waiting for the announcer to say that school was closed for the day.  Magic!  Those were words that brought sparkles to our eyes. 

“Snow day!” 

A snow day in the foot hills of the Rockies – at 7200 feet – is about snow men and sledding and hot chocolate.  Time is spent outside actually “in” snow playing with friends or just building.  There were snow angels, snow ball fights, and snow adventures to be had.  

A snow day here… well, it can be similar.  I have pictures of the Diva playing outside when the snow was nearly as high as she was tall.  There are pictures of her sledding down hills, building snowmen and igloos, and eating the flakes.  She is a blur of light and movement in the midst of a clean, white background. 

Our first snow day of 2009 was not about snow though.  It was about ice.  A nice layer of ice that doesn’t compare to that experienced in other parts of the country, but does it matter?  It is still a layer of ice.  For us, at our house, it was a layer of ice that remained through the night and greeted us the next morning. 

The last winter I lived in Nebraska we had ice.  At least an inch of ice covered by snow and more ice.  It was dangerous but not so bad as the sun didn’t come out for days and the temperatures were a bit (read a lot) below freezing.  That little layer of water that makes ice seriously slippery never formed.  In Nebraska I learned that ice and snow can evaporate (is that the right word?) in the prolonged colder temperatures and with the wind.    I also learned that it is easier to walk on frozen ice than it is on melting ice!

And we have melting ice.

We have snow that melted and froze again to form the tracks of all sorts of people and dogs and cars.  We have no snow men, no igloos, and no signs of snow ball fights. 

I have to admit that I love snow days… the kind of snow days I knew as a kid.  The kind of snow days the Diva experienced when she was a few years younger.  I love playing in the snow, making the different structures, and eating the snow ice cream. 

I dislike snow days that are about ice.  Hey, I really dislike ice in general. 

The President wondered why the private schools in DC closed due to ice.  In Chicago, a little snow never kept them out of school or off the playgrounds.  In a sense, I see his point.  There are days when I can’t figure why the schools have closed or what the big deal is in that people freak out and believe the world is ending (around here) because of a little snow.  I grew up with feet of snow and schools closing due to buses getting stuck and unplowed roads over anything else.  Snow… big deal! 

But we weren’t talking a little snow or even a few feet of snow.  We were talking ice.  As I crunched and slipped and slid my way to work this morning… as my daughter fell on the “black ice” as she rounded the corner to enter the school lot… I longed for a true snow day.  I longed for snow that magically didn’t become ice.  And I realized that the reason they close the schools is not because we are wimps or the teachers are lazy or we don’t want our kids out in this stuff.  It is because ice is not snow.  The sidewalks aren’t safe.  (I walked two miles to work and the sidewalks were less than .25 percent clear of ice in any sort of path).  The aftermath of an ice storm is so different than that of a snow.  Besides – what would a school year be without a “snow day!!?” 

Honestly, I feel badly for those Chicago kids if they don’t get a snow day now and again…

No snow men, hot chocolate, funny dances and songs, day to rest and watch movies and play…

Sure, it is hard on parents, but honestly… isn’t there something pure magic, for young and old alike,  about a surprise day off?  Isn’t that the wonder of a “snow day?”


MindyMom said...

I can remember right after moving to Virginia (near DC) I experienced my first "ice storm". I did find it amazingly beautiful but getting around was impossible. People did get pretty freaked about about a few inches of snow too. I guess once you've tried to drive on ice you never want to do that again!

The Exception said...

I think their behavior about the snow is funny coming from the mountains and then living in Nebraska. And cold... those of us in the DC area do not know cold! But the ice... there is nothing funny about it!

Anonymous said...

I lived in a snowy place for 2 years during grad school. I loved new-fallen snow, hated snow after car exhaust made it brown, loved snow days (yes, grad school occasionally gave us the day off. Yipee!), hated that snow would last into April...

It is sunny and clear in California today. I'm about to go cycling, and wondering if I should wear a long sleeve jersey, or short...


Mama Llama said...

The ice has been especially hard on my back, from all that picking...!!! :)

Oh, and my wrist when I fell.

The snow was nice. I realized Friday that I had not driven in almost the entire week. Nice not to have to go anywhere. The ice is rough to deal with. Once, in an ice storm in Portland OR, my father was almost killed when he had stepped out of a phone booth and not ten seconds later the ice on the gas station sign right over that booth crashed down and smashed the telephone booth to the ground. Amazing to merely slide in the street--good thing my kids can ice-skate, but when you hit a patch you aren't expecting, it doesn't matter how good your balance is, does it?

Hope you're enjoying your weekend with your out-of-town friend, TE! Be well.