Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Snow days

When I was a kid I yearned for snow days. Ached for them. Living in Philadelphia, they didn't happen too often, but when they did, they were bliss. Snow days meant sweet, grainy, instant hot chocolate (the only kind that existed through my childhood), the burn of cold on my cheeks, they meant remembering how to steer my sled and the long trudge up the hill, the prick of an icicle on my tongue, the chill of making a snow angel and the rustle of snow pants. Snow days were glaring white offerings from the universe that there was still time to be a kid in the midst of school and homework and chores.

As a teenager, snow days meant I could sleep late, read the day away, finish up the paper I had avoided. They meant hours on the phone with my friends, watching the same tv shows back when we didn't have cable and our choices still seemed limitless. Snow days were a chance to stay inside, a reminder from the universe that I didn't have to venture out into the world yet.

In college, snow days were snow forts and snowball fights and hours in the library. They were more frequent, since I had moved to New England. Snow days meant developing a certain blase´ attitude towards the snow and the inconvenience. I was in Boston now, snow? Bah. Snow days were a chance to feel nostalgia for a childhood I didn't exactly have, an opportunity to play ferociously.

Then I got a car that needed to be shoveled out. And a parking space that had to protected. And a job that never closed. And had to pay taxes that only sometimes seemed to result in good snow removal services. There were no more snow days, only days with snow. I forgot the wonder of icicles and the comfort of looking out my window with the phone pressed tight to my ear.

Snow became an inconvenience, the glare a trigger for migraines. I found myself one of the adults who had lost the wonder of snow, frozen instead by inconvenience. Sure, I would stop from time to time and admire the shape of a tree limb in the snow, but then I would go back to shoveling or curse the driver who stole my parking space. I didn’t have the time for snow days anymore.

Life changes and changes you. Sometimes for bad and sometimes, in unexpected ways, for good.

Now I am living far from New England, in a city that is crippled by the snow. Since I moved here we’ve had two storms, significant even by New England standards. I am not blase´ about this snow, since there is a real possibility I could lose power and heat. The roads are unplowed. I have the awesome opportunity to remember that, once upon a time, snow storms were fatal. They sometimes still are. What’s more, while I still have a car and the attendant inconveniences, my time is my own. My job is here, in this house.  No one is expecting me to show up for work on time because work is all the time, any time. This means on this snow day I can drink hot chocolate (better than the grainy, sweet stuff of my childhood) and look out the window, marveling in my warmth and safety, stunned by the beauty of the storm.

I can take a snow day, slow down and work in this warm house while watching the world transform into black and white. I can walk through the snow and hear the squeak beneath my boots, stop and help my neighbor shovel, fall on my back and make a snow angel, shuddering as snow slips down the neck of my coat. I can again stop to admire the hush of the world. 

(c)2013 Laura S. Packer
Creative Commons License


  1. LOVE IT! Love it, love it!
    I just finished the first part of a SERIOUS fort in our garden/yard. We have one of those brick making plastic "tubs' to make snow bricks and it looks cool. Although I feel I could have done the same amount of work in the same amount of time, but my daughter wanted bricks, so bricks she got. And I blend my hot chocolate from a few different types! Maid Mist (or whatever she's called), with some good quality coco powder, and when we are really cold, some melted chocolate - usually Green and Black's because there is nothing else in the house! And for me, a sprinkling of chilli powder! For the kids, mini marshmallows! Snow days!

  2. For some reason, Laura, your post reminded me of getting my mail in the Army in Augsburg, Germany. It was midnight. I walked across the snowy park, feet crunching, alone in the snow bright night, to my PO box. I don't remember what, if anything came in the mail that day. All I remember is the peaceful walk through 6 inches of winter white. Thanks for your great article. It sparked my memories. Tony Toledo


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