Another Snow Day, Without the Magic

by Alison Wilkinson January 25, 2017

A child making sad emoji in snow

Snow was predicted in Portland. In this town, there is one snow plow. Well, one snow plow plus a bagpiping uniclycist with a Darth Vader helmet. It doesn’t sound connected, but the bagpipes do blow fire out the end, so I guess in a way he’s kind of like a back-up snow plow.

The point is, when it snows, school closes.

My son, age six, was busily working at his desk when I went to check on him. “Lights out at 8:30,” I reminded him. He nodded, his nose practically scraping his desk on the downswing.

Later, opening the door to my bedroom, a piece of paper fluttered lightly to the ground, a harbinger of things to come. On the paper, a list: “Snow Day! To do: Eat breakfast. Play outside. Have hot chocolate. Write a book. Make copies of the book.”

Perfect, I thought as I went to bed. A plan for the day.

The next day, the light dusting of snow proving too much for the unicycler, I finished the last photocopy. Even factoring in my complete inability to do spatial reasoning – which, it turns out, includes figuring out how to position paper to make a correct double-sided copy – we were done by 7:57 that icy morning.

That was the first snow day.

Today, we enter into our sixth snow day in 30 days. You could say that these days lovingly form the white bread around a thick holiday break sandwich. But I’ll tell you what, I am out of ideas.

I am not so hardened by motherhood, that I’ve forgotten the joy of an unexpected snow day. But the key, methinks, is that the snow day should be “unexpected.” School gets shut down here upon the mere whisper of precipitation that is not in liquid form.

“Did you hear that Diana Dynamic, KPG weather delight, dreamt last night of a white Christmas?” Portland Public Schools will excitedly commune. “It’s true! I heard her singing about it. Let’s send out the e-blast. Best to do it now, before any snow has fallen, so as to give parents some warning.”

Now, yesterday was different. Yesterday was the kind of snow day that brings you right back to that first-grade magic of list-making and snow-flake dreaming. Tree limbs were piled impossibly high with heavy snow. So high you worry they might snap. You feel the need to shake the branches to lighten their load.

“There’s so many!” my two-year-old cried when he saw the world transformed, momentarily unable to process what the various white mounds were that used to be a toy train, a table, a plastic shopping cart. Bleary eyes wide, he surveyed this clean, white expanse where our familiar yard once was.

My three children clambered downstairs, hastily pulled on boots, left jackets behind. Their exuberance broke that silence that only a blanket of snow can create – the hush that comes from the world being muffled, from cars being forced to stay at home.

There is beauty in both. The quiet and the cries. The untouched landscape and the tiny boot prints, the squiggles where they fall.

“This is magical,” I thought to myself, my children, rosy-cheeked and joyful, fallen snowflake angels littering our path. “How could I wish these snow days away?”

Eight minutes later, they were all crying. “I’m so cold!” my four-year-old protested. My youngest, snow above his knees, had given up. He lay dejectedly in the middle of the road. “Carry you!” he wailed, his workout done for the day. “But I don’t want to go back!” whined the oldest.

It was 6:56 a.m.

The snow remains. No school today. Any ideas?

Alison Wilkinson


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