Memories of a snowy school day


Happy snow day to everyone living in the Northeastern U.S. It’s been pouring down hard all day, and we’re enjoying time by the fire.

Of course, now that I’m retired from teaching, a snow day is a mixed blessing. I get the day all to myself…yay! But I get the day with no beautiful granddaughter…boo.

I was lying in bed this morning, watching the snow falling out my window. I was thinking back on past storms, past snowy memories. Thinking of the times I enjoyed the snow with my own kids and the kids in my classroom.

There is one particular school day memory that still makes me smile.

It had snowed hard the evening before, but the roads were clear by dawn, so school was open. It was the first significant snow of the winter, and everyone was talking about it when they arrived.

I was standing in my classroom, teaching math, I think. The kids were restless. Feet were tapping, pencils were being rolled on desks. They weren’t misbehaving, but their minds were clearly not on multiplying fractions. I tried to pep things up a bit with made up word problems using their names, but it didn’t help.

I caught one little boy sitting with his chin in his hand. His face was aimed at me, and he was sitting quietly in his seat. But his bright blue eyes kept cutting to the window.

I looked outside myself.

The sky was the same china blue as my student’s eyes. The sun was shining down on a scene of perfect, pristine, sparkling snow.

Our playground didn’t have a single footprint on it.

I glanced at the clock. Two hours until recess.

Without saying anything, I suddenly closed my math book and snapped off the Smartboard. The kids sat up straighter in surprise. Every eye was on me.

Were they in trouble? What was going on? Why would a fifth grade teacher suddenly stop teaching in the middle of a math lesson?

“OK, gang.” I said, reaching under my desk for my boots. “Get your coats and snow gear on, quickly. If we move fast, we can be the first ones to hit the playground.”

The sound and the sight of those 24 ten year olds bursting through the back doors and racing across the snow has stayed with me for the past 10 years, as clear as can be.

They were the embodiment of pure joy.

I just stood there in the sun, watching them jump and kick and roll in that perfect snow.

For a little while, I felt like the greatest teacher in the world. I felt like a hero.

I hope some of them remember that morning. I hope they remember what it felt like to let go and just give in to happiness.

I’m sure they all went on to eventually master fractions.

But I hope they remember that sometimes it’s important to drop the book and just get jump in the perfect snow.

 

It’s all in how you look at it.


 

When I was a little girl, my sister and I watched a Disney movie called “Polyanna”.  In the movie, a little girl (played by Hayley Mills, how’s that for a good memory?) comes to live with a grumpy old lady.  I don’t remember much about the story, except that there was a scene where Polyanna notices a prism hanging in the old lady’s window, and makes a big deal of the beautiful rainbow and all the colors.  The old lady notices the beauty for the first time, and the two of them take apart all of her lamps and hang prisms all around the house.

Not the most subtle of metaphors, but it stuck with me.

This morning I woke up to yet another school cancellation day. I have nothing to do, having prepared my lessons and done my corrections yesterday.  I have baked brownies, made meatballs and sauce, walked the dogs, done laundry, read a kids book for the class.  I am bored. And cold. And crabby.

I want sun!  I want warm breezes!  I want to barbecue, but the grill is buried in four feet of snow.

I look out my living room window, and see nothing but white.  I’m sick of watching snow fall; its making me dizzy.  The garden fence is almost buried.  My walk is only a foot wide, with five foot walls on either side.

The window is filled with icicles, handing down from every inch of the gutter.  Sharp, jagged, icy teeth, making me shiver just looking at them.

I decided to lie down on the sofa so I could fully indulge in my misery.  I wanted to look at the icicles, those threatening, terrifying blades clustered together, reminding me that I am falling farther and farther behind in the curriculum, and that the kids will be distracted little cyclones tomorrow.  I wanted to use the image of the ever growing ice daggers to help me enhance my total crabbiness.

But guess what? When I laid myself back on the pillow and looked out the window, I found myself looking through the beautiful fused glass wind-chime that my son and his girlfriend gave me for Christmas.  All of a sudden, the icicles were shining through the brilliant colors of the glass, and the little bit of sunlight that was leaking through made them gleam like rainbows.

My plan was thwarted; my crankiness went away.

I felt like Pollyanna!

SONY DSC

HELP!!!! This is New England in January and its going to SNOW!!!!!!


800px-Blizzardof78MapleSt

Oh. Dear. God.

It’s going to snow!!!!!  Red alert!! Red alert!!!  Duck and cover!

Run right out and by a generator!  Help, help, help!!!

According to the Weather Channel and CNN, this will be a “historic storm”!!!!!!    The sound you hear is me, screaming in fear!

Only I’m not.

See, I’ve lived here my whole life.  (I am beginning to wonder why, but that’s another post for another day.)   When I was a kid, we used to have really big snowstorms all the time.  I remember piles of snow that were big enough to build those awesome tunnels and caves through the snow mounds.  I remember snow so deep that we’d sled down the piles that were made in front of our house.

OK, so granted I was only about 4 feet high at the time, but still.

When we moved out here to this house in Central Mass, around 25 years ago, we didn’t even call the plow guy to clear the driveway if there was less than 7 inches of snow.  This week, though, the TV guys referred to an upcoming storm as “the first major storm of the season”.  Everyone got all hyped up. They ran out for bread and milk.  The news guys predicted power outages, wet, heavy snow, downed power lines, black ice, you name it.

We got about 6 inches of lovely fluffy snow that drifted down gently all day.

That used to be “a nice day” in January.  Now it gets its own “Breaking News” coverage.

Sigh.

So tonight I am highly skeptical.  You see, the local news, New England Cable News, the Weather Channel and CNN are all breathlessly warning “millions” of Americans about the “historic” storm that is coming to slam us.  It even has a name: Winter Storm Juno.

Maybe I’d be more impressed if they had sense enough to give the big storms scarier names.  Like “Bruno” or “Amazonia”.  But “Juno”?  I ain’t scared.

I predict that all the schools in the entire region will shut down. Offices will close. Highways will be shut down.  People will panic and liquor stores will be overrun.  Everyone will pull out blankets, make vats of soup, find their candles and hurricane lamps.  There may even be some preemptive Monopoly games set up.  We will all huddle in front of the TV, where we’ll watch highly underpaid weather people standing on the beach making breathless statements about the snow.  “It’s really snowing, Mike”, they’ll tell the anchorman sitting in the nice warm studio.  “It sure is snowy.  Cuz of the snow falling. Wow.  Really, really snowy, Mike.”  They’ll squint into the camera and then bend down and pick up some snow. “This is snow”, they’ll say. “It sure is snowy.” The anchorman, Mike, will smile smugly and say, “Thanks, Chuck! You stay safe out there now!”   The weatherman, trying to make two inches of snow into an actual story, will nod grimly.  Inside his head, he’ll be thinking, “Fuck you, Mike, you smug asshole.”

Meanwhile, with the entire New England region completely shut down, everyone will start texting each other about Tom Brady’s balls (sorry, couldn’t resist).

And we’ll get ten inches of snow. Max.

I’m not buying the hype. Nuh, uh. No way.

Of course, I didn’t buy the hype on Feb. 5th, 1978 either.  I was on my way to my college classes in a car full of fellow students (my now husband included).  We heard a prediction of a major snowstorm, with up to 28 inches of snow.  I laughed, and shook my head.  “Nah”, I said calmly. “They just like to scare us.  It won’t be anything.”

It was, of course, the famous “Blizzard of ’78”.

I got home four days later.

Happy Snowstorm, my friends! My your beer last as long as your Monopoly game!

Thoughts on Nemo


In a few months, this will be my veggie patch.

In a few months, this will be my veggie patch.

Sitting by the fire, nursing my aching back, legs and shoulders.  Watching the endless coverage of what the TV is calling “The Blizzard of 2013”.  I guess they couldn’t get themselves to talk about “Nemo” without giggling.

Here’s what I think of this winter wonderland.

Now that I know that my kids are safe and that all three have power, I’m ready for a nap!  I couldn’t sleep last night, because I felt guilty being warm while they were cold!

Now that I know that my Mom has power and has been plowed and shoveled out by her wonderful, incredible neighbors, I am ready for a good long nap.  After I fretted about my kids at midnight, I fretted about Mom at 2AM!

Now that I know that my brothers and sisters and their spouses and kids have power and heat and light, I am ready for a nap.  You can guess who I was worried about from 3-4 AM…….

Having a big soft couch right next to the roaring wood stove is the BEST.  Maybe I’ll nap here.

Knowing how much snow there is to shovel, I spent two hours this morning digging this out:

I have my priorities.

I have my priorities.

Right after my nap, I intend to get in there and soak.  Maybe with a glass of wine in hand.

Its a good thing I baked that incredible chocolate cake yesterday; I need the sugar boost to finish the shoveling!

And you know what else I think?

I liked “hunker day” better than “shovel day”.

It will be OK with me if we don’t see the front walk until June.  I’m perfectly happy to use the garage door as my main entrance!

And finally, I really love my dogs.  They constantly remind me that there is joy to be found in every situation.

Be warm, be safe, and happy hunkering to everyone who has experienced the wrath of Nemo!

SONY DSC