|No light, no heat, so we sat by the fire.|
My dad would leave the car at the far end of our road, which rolled up and down three large hills, and walk the rest of the way home. I'd go out in the morning and tromp off a large rectangle of untouched snow to admire, take measurement of the snowfall on the garbage can lid, and use my dad's large magnifying glass to try to catch and view snowflakes. My sisters or my mom or dad would help me get out the wooden sled with metal runners, and we'd walk up to the top of our hill, sled down and partway up the next hill, walk up that one to the top, and sled back down again.
|My dad and I having sled issues|
Two years in a row, when I was nine and then ten, we had January ice storms that knocked out power for days AND messed up my best friend's birthday party plans. In high school, I remember one early release due to snow, snowballs flying in the parking lot and some older brothers piling out of a car to threaten some kids who'd hit their windows. I took the city bus home and suffered through the mile walk to my house in thin flats, convinced my toes had fallen off by the time I was halfway home. (They hadn't.)
|Trying to get up to our house during an ice storm|
A decade later I was back in the area, teaching in a rural area outside of the city. And for the first several years we did not have a single snow day. I joked about it with friends from the east coast and he Great Lake states. "Here in Oregon, we have a snow day if we get an inch of snow--AND WE HAVEN'T HAD A SINGLE SNOW DAY IN FIVE YEARS!"
Then in 2004, we came back from winter break on a Monday, it started snowing, and by noon school was dismissed. My students were thrilled and shocked. They had NEVER had that experience before. We were out all week.
In 2008, I was in a new school district and hating my new job. The week before our winter break, it started to snow. We wound up getting the whole week off, and so having three weeks off. I even got some socks knitted as Christmas gifts. It was such a relief that difficult year to have that much time to recuperate before getting back to it.
This school year beats it all. Today is the eighth day my kids and I have been off school due to weather. Thursday and Friday two weeks before break. Thursday and Friday before break. Last Monday, and then Wednesday-Friday this week.
I know there are families of bus drivers and custodians and cafeteria staff who are losing pay for every single day we are gone. Not to mention the four homeless people who have died of exposure in Portland this month. The worst problems I have are that I'm going to be working later in the summer than usual, and I fell and twisted my ankle trying to get outside and enjoy the winter wonderland. We have electricity and heat. We are all able to be home, so there's no childcare emergency. We even had a leftover stash of prescription strength ibuprofen for my ankle, so we didn't have to go out. (I was so afraid I'd broken it at first--how they hell would we get to the emergency room with icy roads and not being able to walk?)
Still, I've come to see that for parents, not all snow days are created equal. These are the categories we've had so far this year.
The roads are slick. The yard is icy and wet. Kids who go outside fall down and end up soaking, so they don't really want to go outside. Cabin fever and general irritability set in quickly.
Number of days like this so far: 3/8
B--Maybe We Overreacted Days
Sure, at 4 am when they're making the call, the roads are iced over and dangerous. But by 9 am, things have pretty much melted. It could have just been a late start day. The afternoon can be spent running errands and getting around town. Basically like a bonus weekend day, so who's complaining?
Number of days like this so far: 2/8
A: Actual Snow Day
There is snow on the ground. Snowmen, snowballs, and sledding are all possible. Children burst outside in mittens and hats and rush to gather friends to build forts or tube downhill. Parents only need to help suit up at beginning of day, provide hot food once or twice, and tuck them into bed, exhausted at the end of the day. Fun for kids, easy for parents--total win/win. Plus, it looks gorgeous.
Number of days like this so far: 3/8
I'm going to propose that, given my city's inability to cope with this kind of weather, we stop having it. Barring that, if we have any more snow days, I'm going to have to insist that they are all the Grade A variety.
|My kids were super excited I was slowing them down with this picture taking nonsense when they just wanted to go sled.|
Let's talk snow days!
- Have winters changed since you were a kid?
- What does it take to get a snow day in your area?
- Do you do any winter sports? As a teenager, I downhill skied, and in my twenties and thirties (i.e. after my parents stopped buying me lift tickets) I took up cross country and snowshoeing, but lately--I'm super lazy.
- In the event of actual snow, are you a "rush out and build a snowman" person or a "curl up and read a book" person?
- Speaking of books--what are your favorite wintery books? I'm thinking of The Long Winter, Smilla's Sense of Snow, Snow Falling on Cedars, Winterdance, Snow White: A Graphic Novel, and City of Thieves.