When I was a kid, those two words sent an electric thrill up and down my spine. Free day off from school – Yay! Of course the neighborhood kids would all get up early and congregate, hoping to make the most of a school-free weekday.
As an adult, snow days were much less exciting – usually because, instead of going to work, we have to strain our backs and risk heart attack by shoveling snow to clear the sidewalks and driveways. Wet, heavy snow is only second-worst: snow with a crust (or foundation) of ice is much more difficult to deal with, not to mention the elevated risk of slipping and falling on the cold, hard, ice-covered pavement. What we got overnight is light, powdery snow; easy to shovel, but prone to the dreaded “blowing and drifting” that can cause dangerous conditions to develop in mere moments.
But when you’re kids, that stuff doesn’t matter.
I was relieved on behalf of all school-aged kids and teens to learn that many Wisconsin schools have declared that snow days will still happen; that’s a relief, since at-home remote education doesn’t depend on weather for the most part. Snow days are built into the schedule in these parts, so they might as well give everyone a surprise day off now and then to use them up. Ice storms can easily bring down power lines from the accumulated weight of ice and snow, causing power loss to significant portions of affected cities. Bitter cold and deep snow can be life-threatening too, particularly for kids who have to stand outside to wait for a bus. This is more prevalent in rural communities, though many city kids still need to ride buses to get to school.
Since I work from home, snow days are much less exciting for me. I can unilaterally declare my own snow day whever I choose, of course, but my deadlines don’t change, so it really means one less day to get my work done on time. T has been working from home too, for which we are both grateful – though I’m pretty sure she needs a break from me after 10 months of all Bill, all the time; frankly, anyone would.
Because I’m what the kids call an older gentleman – not close to retirement age yet, but rapidly leaving middle age behind me – walking in the snow isn’t quite as fun and romantic as it once was. I’ve already fallen on ice once this year. I landed on my knees, which is not too bad, but it did mess up my back a little, so being cautious about cold weather is my life now and – barring relocating to a warmer climate – will be so for the rest of my life. I still love to see snowfall; everything looks so pristine, so otherworldly after a big snow. The frosty air is still invigorating to me; despite the greater danger as I age, I would miss all that if we moved somewhere without winter weather to which I’m accustomed.