It’s winter here in New England. We’ve settled into the season of sleet, slush, icicles, cold wind, and dark mornings. We’ve also settled into hot soups, steamy latte, flannel sheets, layers of fleece clothing, and that rare, unexpected treat: the Snow Day. I suspect that no one ever grows out of the thrill of waking up in the morning to find out that all the day’s obligations have evaporated–erased temporarily by a spectacular act of nature. We had one last Wednesday, and it was a multi-layered gift.
First, we knew about it the day before. The blizzard bearing down on the Northeast was so large and so powerful that it left no doubt about its potential. Weather forecasts actually increased their predictions for snowfall amounts in the 24 hours leading up to the storm. Most school closings were announced by 3:00 on Tuesday. The Boy and I drove home giddy, thinking about all the things we would, and would not, do on our bonus day. On our way, we made a foraging stop at Whole Foods, where we filled our cart with baking supplies and ingredients for a wide variety of cozy meals. (Sadly, the Husband was not able to join us in our preparations or our celebration, due to a business commitment in Washington).
Once we got home we shifted into full-on Snow Day mode. A nice glass of wine for me, and a glass of warm cider for The Boy. Dinner in our pajamas, a snuggle on the couch watching the Discovery Channel, and then off to bed with the alarm clocks set to OFF. A couple of flashlights and candles ready at hand and all electronics charged, just in case of a power failure, and we were all set.
The next morning, just as the meteorologists had promised, we woke to find our world covered in over a foot of snow, with more piling up fast and heavy. And now came the only sticking point in our enjoyment–how were we going to get out of the driveway? My disintegrating spine, my neurosurgeon, and The Husband have all made it quite clear that shoveling is completely out of the question for me. At first, I had thought I would just shift my excellent all-wheel-drive SUV into reverse and floor the accelerator. However, when I realized that the snowfall was higher than my tires, and that the snowbanks at the end of the driveway were easily up to the windows of the car, the folly of my brute force plan became obvious. And here’s where the next layer of my Snow Day gift presented itself.
At 10:00, before the snow had even started to subside, my best friend called. “We know you’re going to go out there and try to shovel,” she said. “I’m calling to say, don’t even think about it.” Her husband had already decided that he’d drive over and plow out our driveway. Sure enough, two hours later, he arrived. He trudged to the garage, fired up our snowblower, and started the rescue operation.
The Boy went out with a shovel to help him clear the walk. I grabbed my camera and started taking pictures. Two-thirds of the way through the job, the snowblower ran out of gas. The Other Husband shrugged, grinned, grabbed our gas container, drove through the snow to the gas station, returned to our house, filled the tank, and finished clearing the driveway. Just as he finished, the snow stopped. Then the Other Husband drove back home to take care of his own family. True friendship, right there. The Boy and I baked madeleines, stayed warm, did our homework, and felt totally protected.
Later in the week, his teacher gave a writing assignment, which The Boy completed with great satisfaction, and which I share with you now. The task was to write a personification of an element of winter.
The Snow Banks
We are the snow banks. We stand tall and straight. We stand guard at the edge of the driveway. We are the gatekeepers, the protecting lions of winter. Our lives begin when we fall to earth as new snow. We are shaped and strengthened by the mighty plows. We shelter children as they create tunnels and forts on and around us. We watch kindly as our cousins, the snowmen, come to life in the yard. Our snowy interiors get harder and stronger as the nights get colder. We stand firm and mighty in the dark. We are creatures of ice. We are guardians of the gates in winter. We are the snow banks.