Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Hooray for Snow!

            It’s a snow day for me, as my university and most other universities in my region are closed today.
            There’s something kind of charming about the way the people of the Ozarks react to snow. We had four inches of fluffy snow fall the night before last, so we are on our second day of weather-related closure—for a wee bit of snow that people even an hour north of here wouldn’t bat an eye at.
            As a people, Ozarkians are programmed for the outdoors, but less for snow forts and imprints of angels on the lawn than for tubing on a lazy river, beer bottle in hand. And they have a point.
            I won’t complain, though, because I have always loved a snow day—and what’s more, I have always loved snow.
            The rest of the country has had a lot more of it than we have—this four-inch snowfall is the first of the season, and it’s already mid-February—but from the perspective of someone who no longer sees much snow, here’s are some reasons to love the white stuff before it’s gone.

  • The whole world is a big, clean sheet of paper, just waiting to be written on. It’s that moment just before the rough draft, when ideas fight for the top position. There are not yet any false starts, logical flaws, mixed metaphors, typographical errors—everything is potential.
  • It covers our mistakes. My lawn is peppered with dried leaves. Some windblown litter has landed by the fence. There are toys here and there, and we never trimmed back the remnants of any of our summer blooms. There is plenty of work to be done outside, but you’d never know it today.
  • It’s a chance to rest. Nearly the entire community—schools, universities, daycares, churches—has decided to sit this day out and try again tomorrow. There will be work to catch up on, of course, for all of us, but for today, a respite is sanctioned. Time in front of the fireplace is acceptable. TV on the couch is A-OK. And throwing snow at each other in the yard? Well, that’s the best use of all for our time.
  • It’s not gray. Sun is hitting the snow and reflecting into the windows, and the house is bright and cheerful. I, for one, have been working indoors, moving from one office to another without a chance to step out into the sun, and I needed a little brightness and cheer.
  • There’s a funny sideshow that happens in academia, when all of the professors panic about what the snow day will do to their lesson plans. They wring their hands; they fret that they won't be able to get everything in over the course of the semester. But I like to remind them that they're not getting “everything” in anyway, no matter the subject. They can’t teach all of American history, all of Modern poetry, all of physics, all of psychology—not in sixteen weeks! And one class session isn't going to subtract significantly from all of that not-everything they're teaching. Not even two class sessions will make much of a dent. I enjoy witnessing the flutter. It reminds me of how dedicated and serious my colleagues are, and it invites me to up my game, too.
  • The birds, which, here, can typically afford to turn up their noses at inexpensive mixes of seed, really seem to appreciate the feeder on a snowy day, and I enjoy the show they put on for me there.

In short, there are many reasons to love a snow day—just one of the many times that a break from routine, a set of limitations, can remind us of the bounty of our daily lives.

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