This year our school system has made it all the way to February break without a snow day. (Correction, that’s not absolutely the truth. We actually did have one snow day – Halloween!! In a freak storm that dropped a dozen inches of heavy snow on leaf-filled, autumn colored trees, schools throughout the county were closed, some for many days.)
Understand that snow days are not “free” days. They need to be made up, either added on to the end of the school year, or if we have too many, taken out of spring vacation days. I’m a minority of one when I pray to the snow gods and chant: “Bring it on!”
There is essentially something about snow days that brings out the child-like, childish and unexpected in most of us. Especially me. Responsible adults with regular jobs need to be at work, snow or no snow. I understand why people move to warmer climates. They clench steering wheels and swear at plows and other drivers. Some grab subway supports then trudge through the mush of streets trying to avoid the gray sludge thrown up by passing cars. Those employed outdoors bundle up as best they can, drink their coffee and carry on. It can’t be pleasant. But not teachers and schools.
We all know that a snow day is designed to protect our children. We don’t want the lumbering behemoth of the school bus sliding off the country road or city avenue for a close-up encounter with a telephone pole or another car. Some years ago a fellow teacher missed the call that alerted him to our school district closing. He left home early in an effort to give himself more time to arrive at school. In a slow motion slalom on a wooded lane he careened off the road and totaled his car, unhurt, but very, very angry. He could have been home watching Good Morning America.
At my house there were always certain snow day rituals that we convened with our daughters. My wife (also a teacher) might make a real breakfast; waffles or pancakes. On the first snow day of each year my daughters were basically forced to watch a Robert Redford film, titled “Jeremiah Johnson” about a mountain man in the Rockies in the 1800’s. There was barely any dialogue but practically the entire movie contained snow and lots of it. They went outside and played as no doubt thousands of the areas children did as well. I played with them. Snowmen and snow forts and the all-important igloo. Sleds and the toboggan came out. And I shoveled because I enjoyed it. Driveway, walks, the deck, paths to the bird feeders. I shoveled until there was nothing left to shovel. Sometimes I shoveled very late at night when it was quiet and dark, secure in the knowledge that the following day would have no school.
I know exactly why I love it. My school life is filled with schedules and deadlines, meetings and reports, conferences and timetables. The snow day was unexpected. In a professional middle school life compressed into bells and periods, time parceled out into various and repeated concrete patterns, managed down to the minute (period 6 is 46 minutes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but only 44 on Tuesday and Thursday) the snow day says, “Hold on! Stop right there!”
I still harbor a little hope for this year. It doesn’t look promising, but March is statistically the snowiest month in this state. If that moisture coming up along the eastern seaboard could just mix with a cold front dropping down from Canada, maybe, just maybe. A school delay won’t satisfy me. In my last year, just one last snow day would.
10,094 days down, 81 left