We would pile in the living room, my mom tucked in a blanket her mother had probably crocheted. Dad would make cocoa on the gas stove using his camping gear for effect. Even when we lost power it was still warm – gas stove and fireplace keeping us cozy. All the kids on the cul-de-sac, our one pair of wool socks each drying on the tiles around the mantle, would pile in for Dad’s cocoa and mom’s blankets. The first ice storm kept us home for a week after we moved to North Carolina.
Talk about a shock for kids fresh from Southern California.
I always felt sad at the end of a snow day. Sure, it was part grief of the impending return to school and the end of those days more magical than Saturdays because they were gifts given at 7:30 in the morning. But it was more than that.
It was how the neighbors, people whose names i hadn’t learned in four years of a shared zip code, all clustered at the top of the hill to watch us sled. It was the ache in my cheeks from the cold. Snow days weren’t just days away from school, it was like the whole world stopped to be together and outside while blanketed in quiet white.
I’m not exactly a fan of snow now. I drive my New England friends up the wall with my whining, my endless sweeping of the sand out of my room and wishing it was spring already. But i’ve not forgotten how delicious those days were, with my purple snow pants and the sleds my Dad kept stocked in the garage, just in case.
Yesterday, Jonathan and i were driving back from the Harris Teeter. An inch had spread on the asphalt in the half hour we’d been packing the cart with Merlot and cookie dough. Barely two miles home and it took us almost 45 minutes, pushing the CRV ahead of us until she had enough traction to crest the hill. People were abandoning their cars to push other people along, i caught an old man as he tumbled down the hill in boat shoes.
Certainly not the spinning hillside with glee i’d had when six and new to Carolina. But a snow day nonetheless. Neighbors clustering and capping it all off piled chin-deep in blankets, in our fire-place-free living room.
And somehow, the magic of a day off when it’s not Saturday doesn’t dissipate, even at 21.