snow day

There’s no day like a snow day home from school!

Central Texas received its usual inch of snow last night, and in anticipation, all the school systems around us announced closures last night, and this morning the university followed suit.

So I’ve been outside in my sandals to take snow photos, done a load of laundry, changed the furnace filters, and am rummaging for something to bake, but I’m also remembering snow days growing up.

In Chicago, school doesn’t get closed all that often due to snow. I think everyone is more prepared, or just more stubborn about not wanting to give in to nature…or it could be that the Catholic schools didn’t close because a large family of children in a small house home all day, might drive a parent over the edge….

I remember sitting in the kitchen listening to WGN reading off the closings, thinking that the other kids were so lucky. I think it took me a few years to understand that they read the list in alphabetical order, and that’s how my sister knew when to listen and when not too, I’d always thought she had some uncanny ability to know when they’d announce St. Martha’s…

We’d all jump up and cheer when we heard that our school would be closed, and I think I remember seeing mom hold her head in her hands…we’d start watching cartoons, somehow expecting that the television station would switch to saturday programming. They wouldn’t of course, and we’d watch reruns of Gene Autry, Sky King and the always popular Sea Hunt. About the time the channels would be filled with soap operas and we’d start the usual poking, wrestling and generally tearing up the house and each other, mom would dress us all in our snow pants, coats, mittens, hats, scarves, boots (think Ralphie’s little brother) and push us out the door with instructions to shovel our walk, the neighbor’s walk, and the sidewalk as far as we could.

We’d push the big metal shovel (no plastic for us! no sir!) as far as we could, the blade hanging up on a crack just when we would get up a head of steam and the sudden stop would topple us over. I remember thinking that I’d never put in a flagstone walk when I had a house, and dream of new, uncracked concrete to shovel without the annoyance of toppling over.

The town plow would come by and place a mountain of snow right where dad had been parked and just as we straggled back to the house from shoveling, snow down our necks (how’d that happen?) mom would turn us around and point us towards the mountain to excavate a parking spot for dad.

By the time we were done with what seemed like hours worth of work it was around 11 and time for lunch. The unwrapping of all six of us was about an half hour’s proposition i think, with the dumping of boots, clothespinning of wet gloves and scarves on the improvised clotheslines. Mom would make tomato soup and grilled cheese, which we would all gobble down while watching the Bozo circus…and fall asleep in front of the tv.

By afternoon, when we’d wake, we’d all head to our rooms. I’d work on model cars, my older sister would play records, and I never knew what my younger sisters were doing in their big dorm in the new addition.

Soon it would be time to help with dinner, go back out and reshovel the path for dad’s car, and dad, and after dinner, we’d all sleep. Snow days might have been the most exercise I got during the winter.

As I look out the window, there’s not enough to shovel, so I’ll go back to laundry and get at that baking project…maybe there’ll be some typing in between, maybe a nap, where I’ll get to remember a bit more in my dreams.

Stay warm today, keep off the icy roads, help each other out if you come across someone stuck in the snow.

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