Ode to a Snow Day

What is the utter appeal of a snow day?  For some, a night and day of heavy snow must be a huge burden, an annoyance, a danger, an upset.  For others, it may be a nice surprise, a joyful experience, a novelty, an occasion to celebrate.  For some folks in my family, snow has been a money-making opportunity.  For me, it is an unexpected day off from school. 

I have always found snow days to be as exciting and delicious as most children find them.  School children cheer at the thought of falling snow, early dismissal, or a day off from school.  Some of the staff probably does as well.  My close friends and I LOVE a snow day.  We always have—even as new teachers, for some of us almost forty years ago. I don’t see us as slackers.  These are not lazy, careless, disengaged teachers.  These are dedicated, hard-working, organized folks.  So, why are snow days so welcome?

#1: You can’t do anything about the falling snow, so why not learn to make the most of the experience?  A bunch of teacher friends from different schools usually meet for lunch on a snow day.  Guess what we talk about? 

#2: A snow day is a perfect gap-day in an otherwise full-to-the-brim week.  To me, a snow day is a gift.  An entire day with no expectations and no timeframe. No place to go, no appointments to keep, no one to meet.  The day is what you choose to make of it.

#3: Snow is beautiful.  When I travel, I want to go to a place that is somehow quite different than the place where I live and work.  Appearance is a big part of this.  Two of my favorite places, Italy and Arizona, look totally different than northern Delaware.  That is a big part of their appeal for me. 

A snowy day can completely transform the landscape.  The view right now out of my kitchen window is extraordinary and worthy of a fine photograph: horizontal branches of old hemlock trees laden with snow; black and white lines crossing and re-crossing like woven fibers, with several totally vertical lines of thick green-black bamboo canes.  The out-buildings behind the house are blocked from view by this amazing collage.

I love to drive around on a day with new-fallen snow, just to see familiar places made slightly strange and different.  Today’s snow is the kind that sticks.  A striking scene.

#4: A snow day is a day for special projects.  Cooking, baking, tidying and reorganizing, catching up on reading or a movie.  If you work all week, then your weekends, like mine, may be full up with household tasks, like laundry and shopping and cleaning, which never seem to get done in the evenings.  But a snow day is extra time—a window in the week that suddenly opens.  It’s like “free time” ready and waiting for you.

#5:  Finally, a snow day can be time to spend with your kids and family.  I loved snow days with my boys when they were young.  Everyone went out to shovel the driveway and free up the cars.  My husband has a small front-end loader for clearing snow, so with a big snow, he could pile up snow from the driveway on to the top of the yard to make a snow mountain for the flying saucer.  Snowsuits and mittens and scarves and boots.  Hot chocolate and popcorn.  A fire in the fireplace.  Nobody expected us to do anything or be anywhere.  Ahhh,…

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5 Responses to Ode to a Snow Day

  1. denise says:

    I noticed that the Catholic high schools in my county were all opened when public schools were all closed.

    Why is that? If teachers can drive to lunch and all around the beautiful landscape then I would think they could drive to school. The snowfall is usually predicted allowing all students to take their books home with them in anticipation of some of them being unable to get to school. Give them homework/schoolwork assignments for those who can’t make it in and hold class for those who show up.

    I assume that is what the Catholic schools do. I know that is what they used to do. Those of us who commuted 20 miles f by bus to inner city schools did this drill any time snow was in the forecast. And there were times we missed class but we had the assignments.

    Why does this seem impossible for public schools?

    • Gilda says:

      The answer is really very simple. Catholic schools don’t bus the sheer numbers of kids the distances that public schools do. The city of Wilmington does a horrible job of clearing city streets. No one wants kids-elem, middle or hs level-standing on top of snow piles–or in the streets– to board a bus to take them to their schools 15 miles away. If you’re not happy with the current arrangements, please feel free to talk with your legislators.
      And actually, many of us do go into school for some uninterrupted work in our classrooms.
      I hope this answers your question.

  2. Frederika says:

    Denise:

    1. It ain’t my call to cancel school. Trust me, they do not consult teachers! Plenty of teachers I know hate snow days–they hate having to stay later into summer to make up the time.
    2. Somebody in charge has the bigger picture. I can only see my deck, front yard, and the road beyond my driveway. They send out teams of drivers to check out streets in various neighborhoods. Their #1 concern is the safety of thousands of school children.
    3. All of the diocesan schools in this county were closed yesterday and are closed today as well. Some days they close–some days we close. Most snowy days, both public and Catholic schools mirror each other.
    4. In public school, we make up ALL of these days missed–we’re not off the hook. Both kids and teachers will make up any and all lost time.
    5. Getting dug out by noon for a lunch at a nearby coffee shop or for a late afternoon drive around northwestern New Castle County is not the same as getting dug out to leave for school by 7:00 a.m. Some days, the hilly back roads to my school are almost impassable without 4-wheel drive vehicles.
    6. Gee, am I’m supposed to feel guilty for trying to enjoy a surprise day off from school? Lighten up! LOL If in future I promise to stay home and clean my house or shovel out driveways of elderly neighbors (oh, shoot–in my neighborhood, I am the elderly neighbor!), would that be any less distasteful?
    7. Do you think that Catholic school teachers do not or cannot enjoy a snow day in some of the same ways that I do???

  3. momof4 says:

    I’ve got one student in one of the Catholic high schools in Wilmington, two in The Charter School of Wilmington and one at a public suburban elementary school. All three schools were open on Wednesday. My two at CSW drive to school and were stuck in traffic for 45 minutes on Lancaster Pike before I made the decision for them to return home, my one at the Catholic high school was dismissed early and the bus returned to our area almost three hours later, the elementary student was dismissed early. The Catholic high school has been closed all week as have the other schools.
    As has been stated before, the teachers don’t make the call, the administration does. The roads in and around most of Hockessin and Newark were a disaster, we even slid pulling out of our neighborhood today. Oh and by the way, last year during those horrible snow storms, CSW did utilize distance learning and the kids did do work over all of those missed days and as a result did not have as many days to make up. I know that this week students at AIHS were given assignments via email that are due Monday. Just thought you could use some more information.

    • Frederika says:

      Thanks, Mom. Distance learning would be great for all occasions, and especially for prolonged absence due to weather or illness. However, it is not available to kids who cannot afford the computer or the Internet hook-ups.

      I just got back from a day tooling around the countryside in Kent County. They had far less snow than we did in northern NCC. They had 3-6″ on the ground, where we measured 12″ in my yard and driveway in Hockessin. Is more snow slated for mid-week? This is gong to be a long winter and a longer school year. Oh, well. It is what it is.

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