There’s nothing nicer than a snowstorm in January, especially when the early morning news is telling everyone to stay home and take a snow day, and the local radio station is listing the bus cancellations, and school and business closings. There’s no second guessing, should I go out or not, when they start telling everyone to stay off the roads. When I was working, I dreaded winter as I had a long commute – it might be bright and sunny when I left home but by the time I got to work in the snowbelt region it would be a raging blizzard. If you didn’t go in, you were home safe but sorry as you would inevitably feel guilty about leaving your colleagues with a skeleton staff and/or a 24 hour shift. When I worked in a small rural hospital if it was an exceptionally bad storm, the staff who lived in town would be collected by snowmobile – no need to stay home, we will come and get you! Many a snowy night I drove home in whiteouts over unplowed country roads where I was the only fool on the road. A friend of mine once ran into a pack of wild dogs/coyotes on her drive home – they must have been disoriented in the blizzard to have come so far out of the bush and refused to get off the road. After I changed jobs, it was even worse, as there was no backup staff or plan. I only remember my workplace being closed once due to snow and only then because my boss had wisely but reluctantly made the decision…..but that was the year we had a snowmageddon and the national guard was called in to deal with all the stranded cars on the highway, many of whom had been there for over 24 hours. I did not even get a snow day as I was called in to cover a shift near where I lived for someone who couldn’t get in. It always amazed me how busy we would be on those days, and how many people would be out and about during snowstorms, even when they were telling people to stay home. Of course, there would be the expected increase in emergencies – car accidents, heart attacks, pneumonia and such, but then there would be the others. I reached the conclusion that there are people who just do not like being stuck at home during a snowstorm, they must be out and about…to the grocery store for milk, the library to return books….any excuse will do. Personally, now that I am retired, I am grateful for the opportunity to stay home when the weather out there is frightful.
Who doesn’t recall the excitement of an unexpected day off school when you were a child. I think we remember them because they were so few and far between. Last year there were about ten days when the buses didn’t run here and another five or so when the school was closed altogether. Snow, fog, freezing rain, some of which never even materialized but the school board must make the decision at 5:30 in the morning and there are liability issues. I remember one year our rural bus was cancelled for several days. We made snow angels, built snow forts and snowmen, played fox and the goose in the pristine whiteness and had hot chocolate (the real stuff with cocoa and milk) when we came in from playing, and usually grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch.
My dad would plow out the lane-way with the front-end loader on the tractor but basically we were snowed in until the county roads were cleared, which was never a priority for the township. My ancestors went to church in this old cutter when the roads were impassable.
I guess you could say the one horse open sleigh was their backup plan! (This picture is from the 1940’s when my dad still had the big Clydesdale horses).
The month of January can be quite pleasant, once all the stress and merry-making of Christmas is over. The days are quiet – it’s a good time for personal reflection, journal writing, and soup on the stove. You don’t have to socialize if you don’t feel like it, you can read and watch movies and putter around the house with no agenda in mind. You can bake and eat with no thought of exercising off those calories. It’s much too cold and icy to go out, although you might be brave enough to shovel the driveway if no one volunteers to do it for you. It’s a time of year to be savored. All is white without, all is warm within. You can go to bed at night and listen to the wind howl and be grateful for hearth and home.
While a snow storm can be a blessing in disguise, a forced stop to our constant whirlwind of activity, if the storm goes on too long cabin fever can set in. I tend to feel a bit claustrophobic if the driveway and street aren’t plowed out after 24 hours. I want to stay home but I like the idea that I can get out if I need to. Of course, if the hydro or heat goes out or the pipes freeze that is a whole other story…..not fun at all. And if the winter drags on too long into March that can be depressing indeed.
So, what are the ingredients for a perfect snow day – comfortable clothes, but you don’t have to get dressed at all if you don’t want to, stay in your PJ’s. A nice pair of thick socks is a requirement and you must have a stack of books or magazines. I always have some books on reserve for just such days.
A cozy chair in front of the fireplace or in front of a window where you can watch the snow softly falling is ideal. Add some soft pillows and a comfy throw, plaid is perfect.
A cup of spiced tea is lovely to sip while you read…and if you get sleepy while reading, simply move over to the couch for a long winter’s nap. But first throw something in the crock-pot so you can awaken to the delightful aroma of homemade stew. If you feel like baking, chocolate chip cookies or brownies are always a good choice and much appreciated by the neighborhood snow shovelers. I always enjoy watching the kids on the neighbor’s skating rink from my kitchen window while I do the dishes, twirling around in their colorful Nordic coats and scarfs like a real-life Gap ad. Somehow the weather is seldom too bad for a game of ice hockey. Sometimes there is even night skating under the spotlights, the flurries falling, the slam of the puck against the boards, he shoots, he scores. After supper, it’s movie time – and popcorn and hot chocolate. Later you can watch the storm highlights on the evening news and be glad you are not out in it – and so, to bed. Tomorrow all will be sunny and bright like a winter wonderland…..and regular life will resume, refreshed by this quiet moment of winterlude.
Quote of the Day:
Brew me a cup for a winter’s night.
For the wind howls loud and the furies fight;
Spice it with love and stir it with care,
And I’ll toast our bright eyes,
my sweetheart fair. (Minna Antrim) Song of the Day: Snow – from White Christmas – Bing Crosby & Co.