Snow Days

Snow falling softly all night long in New England typically means there is no school the following morning. Teachers, kids and their families have a Snow Day.

I remember moving from California in the 1970s to teach in a school in the Boston suburbs. I was a twentysomething teacher who had never lived through a snowy winter. Recess for me growing up in the Bay Area meant throwing on a light sweater or a corduroy coat and heading outside to play. When I was six we had a light dusting of snow at our house and my mom went outside with a spoon, collected a bowl of snow and made “snow ice cream”. I had never made a snowperson, been on ice skates, or sat on a sled. I didn’t have a clue that part of my teaching duties would include helping my class full of 4-6 year olds deal with snowsuits, mittens, hats, gloves and boots before and after their outside play time!

“I remember hearing something about a February Vacation and wondering, “What is that?” It seemed a bit excessive and certainly meant that the school year lasted longer… All it took was one season for me to completely embrace the concept of a winter vacation where you could escape from the cold weather and stand up straight. I hadn’t quite gotten the hang of layering yet – a concept I have perfected over the years. Now I don’t care how pudgy I look. Forget fashion. All I care about is warmth.

Then there were Snow Days. Days off from school during the week when a snow storm prevented safe travel. My first year of teaching, whenever there was a Snow Day I headed over to the inner courtyard of the Boston Public Library to watch snowflakes fall silently, creating a soft white blanket of untouched snow. That was pure magic. It was so peaceful – my first experience of being surrounded by a deep silence that is full of well-being.

When we moved from Back Bay to Concord, I had the pleasure of being woken up on Snow Days to the sound of a fog horn. In those days, the town of Concord sounded one type of horn to let residents know when someone escaped from the Concord Prison. Then they sounded a distinctive Snow Day horn to let folks know when school was closed. Those of us who worked in the Concord schools could simply roll over and go back to sleep… If you had no children, no dogs, and no other major responsibilities it was heaven on earth.

A Snow Day was literally a free day inserted into the middle of the week thanks to Mother Nature. We spent the day reading, baking, making snow people, sledding, and walking around town visiting friends, neighbors and our favorite stores. Sometimes we took our sleds along so we could pull our purchases home.

This past Saturday night there were a couple of inches of fresh snow on the ground. B and her little sister asked to go out into the backyard with the dog and play. We turned on the lights as they bundled up in snow garb and prepared to head out. Their favorite neighbor came over and joined them. For two hours they played. Laughter floated into the house as they built a snow fort, played on the backyard slide, and went sledding down gentle slopes before coming in for cups of hot chocolate. We were thrilled about the unexpected gift. There were smiles all around: happy kids, happy dog, happy parents.

Today we are experiencing a winter storm. Schools in western Massachusetts are closed. Kids at Treehouse are outside sculpting snow people, snow creatures and snow forts. Some families are using kick sleds to travel across the meadow. There are four pots of delicious soup in the fridge from Monday night’s Soup Tasting. Perhaps some community members will come together and share a tasty lunch. Maybe there will be a Hot Chocolate Party. Tea pots and mugs are standing at the ready. There are art supplies in the Community Center closet and the Game Library is fully stocked with board games. There are movies to be watched and the library is full of books to be read.

Happy Snow Day Everyone!

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