Snow Days

We had a snow day here in New York on Thursday.  The city that never sleeps rarely shuts down, but the kids did get a day off from school.  I took a PTO day from work and avoided a snowy, icy commute.  It was nice to have a day at home, but I don’t have the enthusiasm for snow days that I did as a child.

Snow days were rare where we lived in Tennessee.  We usually got ice storms and just a little snow, maybe twice in the winter.  The state of the roads decided whether the schoolsnow-day buses could run.  Every time the weather forecast called for sleet or snow, I did a “snow dance” in the living room in front of the TV. Waiting for the school bus on a country road in the dark and cold of winter was not my idea of fun, and I was thrilled whenever we didn’t have to go to school.

Snow days were actually cozy as long as the power didn’t go out.  Ice on the trees often meant broken branches and downed power lines.  We had a wood-burning stove in the garage for emergencies like that.  Daddy made sure we always had a stack of wood split before winter came so we were prepared.  Snow days were a little bit of a break for him when he was a school bus driver, although he always had to feed the cows in the winter, no matter what the weather.

I remember one storm where we were out of school for two or three days on account of the ice.  When the roads began to clear, Daddy drove Mother and me up to my aunt and uncle’s house on the main road.  Aunt Eunice had made her version of spaghetti for lunch.  Friends of Italian descent, make sure you’re sitting down when you read this!  It involved ground beef and canned tomatoes, and was cooked in a crock pot.  That was the only spaghetti and meat sauce I ever had before I went to college.  It was a little greasy–I guess that was the ground beef!

After lunch, the adults played Rook, a card game that doesn’t have face cards.  They were brought up that normal playing cards were sinful, so Rook was the game of choice.  They would laugh and joke, and I read a book.

Daddy had an inspiration one snow day when I was in high school.  He took the hood off an old car which was no longer working, turned it upside down, and fixed it to the back of his tractor with a chain.  “Baby doll, you want to ride?” he asked me.  I enthusiastically jumped in, and he hauled me up and down the road on that car hood sled.  My cousins Dale and Don asked to borrow it when we were done, and Daddy unhooked it from the tractor.  They pushed it off a hill in their yard and jumped on board.  It was impossible to steer, so they ran straight into a tree.  One of them broke his arm–I think it was Don.

Share some memories of your snow days!

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A Winter’s Day

This was the Halloween snow of 2011!
This was the Halloween snow of 2011!

Snow days are not what they used to be for me, and for most adults, I think.  This winter has been extra-super-awful so far, all across the country for the most part.  It’s rare for businesses to shut down and for the governor to say, “Stay off the roads!”  So most of us have to try to get to work through the aftermath of snowstorms or spend hours in traffic (or on stalled trains) trying to get home.  I end up tired, cranky and sore from shoveling my car out of its parking spot.

When I was a child in Tennessee snow days were a rare treat.  Even an ice storm was welcome as long as the power didn’t stay off very long.  If we got one or two per winter we were thrilled.  Mother always said, “You won’t be so glad when you have to stay in school this summer,” but summer was far away.  A day out of the normal routine was well worth making up in May.

Once the snow stopped falling we usually managed to get out and visit my aunts and uncles on the neighboring farms.  Daddy’s truck could go most anywhere once he put the chains on.  He made sure everyone had groceries and would make runs to the little store at Stringtown, which never closed for anything (except the owner’s whim.)

Often Aunt Eunice would have us up for lunch, for her version of chili spaghetti, made in a crock pot.  Don’t ask!  It bore no resemblance to either dish, but it was tasty and warming on a cold day.  Mother and Daddy would then play Rook with Aunt Eunice and Uncle Tip, while I read a book.  Then we would slowly grind our way down the hill in low gear all the way home, the chains on the tires smacking the pavement.

If it was cold enough I would get to let our dog in the garage for the night, which was a huge thrill for him.  Normally he slept in his doghouse, or in warm weather he slept in a hollow he dug below my bedroom window.  He was never allowed in the house per se.  Mother thought having animals indoors was dirty and was impervious to pleading on this subject.

I remember getting up early the next day and listening to the radio to see if school would be out again.  I don’t think we ever got more than a couple of days in a row.  So I’d have to get bundled up and stand out at the bus stop in the dark, waiting for the sun to come up and the bus to come.  Back to normal again–with hopes for another snow day soon.

Winter Blues

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s a melancholy day here.  I can’t believe it’s snowing this early in December.  And it’s snow mixed with freezing rain, forecast to turn to black ice later tonight.  Too miserable to go out, but I’m restless inside.

When I was growing up in Tennessee snow was a rare occurance, and greeted with delight.  A snow day!  We got to stay home from school!  I remember one storm when I was small that left over a foot of snow, something that almost never happened.  My brother went out sled riding with his friends and got run over by one of the boys.  The sled runner must have been sharp because it sliced his knee open and he had to have stitches.

Ice storms were more common.  They were actually frightening because the power could go out in addition to the roads getting slick.  Once when I was home from college there was a massive ice storm and the power was out for a few days.  Mother cooked on the wood-burning stove in the garage, and Daddy hauled water up from the well since the pump couldn’t work without electricity.  It was so cold that Mother even let my German shepherd come in the garage with us.  He was rarely allowed to come inside since Mother thought having pets in the house was low-class and dirty.  Poor Chico was so happy!  He always wanted to be an indoor pet, despite his size.

In recent years we’ve had ice storms here, which used to be uncommon.  One of my friends calls it “global weirding,” to explain the more violent weather we seem to get.  Big parts of Connecticut were without power for weeks due to tree branches taking down power lines.

So I guess a relatively mild snow and ice event is nothing to complain about.  Still, I feel grumpy and blue.  So I’ll post a picture of a Christmas tree and go watch some cat videos.  Light activities for dark days!  Any hints for cheering yourself up in the winter weather are welcome!

Ice Storm

This winter has been very mild so far, except for a weird October snowstorm.  I’m not sure why I’ve been remembering the ice storms of my Tennesee childhood.  Maybe my sister Sherrie sparked the memories with her account of a storm a few weeks ago on their farm.

Snow was rare where I grew up, and always the occasion for celebration.  I got out my sled, and Daddy played with me as the runners sank into wet slush.  Ice storms were more common.  Rain would begin to freeze, then coat trees, roads and the ground with a glittering layer.  When the sun came out the next day, everything sparkled.  The reflected light was almost blinding.

Often the ice on the road would cause school to be cancelled, since the school buses couldn’t run safely on their long routes through the country.  There weren’t any snowplows or salt trucks, so we had to wait for the ice to melt before school could resume.

Sometimes the ice would be heavy enough that tree branches would break and fall on the power lines.  If the power was out in many places it could be days before it was restored.  The poor folks who went through this after the October snowstorm here know what that is like.  We had resources on the farm, however, that made a couple of days of ice storm aftermath seem like a holiday to me.

Daddy hooked up a generator to the freezer so our frozen food wouldn’t spoil.  We had a wood-burning stove in the garage, which never had a car in it, so the garage functioned as a den.  Mother cooked on top of the stove, which can’t have been fun for her, but I thought it was great.  She even allowed my dog to come into the garage, when normally he was banished to his doghouse.  Often my aunts and uncles on the main road would get their power back faster, so we were invited for lunches and dinners with them.  Afterwards they would all play Rook, the only card game they were allowed as young people and still their favorite, and laugh and talk.

Two days was about my limit, however.  After that I really wanted to be back in school with my friends since none of them lived nearby.  But a couple of days off with my aunts and uncles, and time to read all I wanted to, was a real treat.