Snow Days


Once more

I crawl beneath the comforter.

Snow at the window

TH 1956


nfortunately for me, there is not enough snow on the window sill to justify more time in bed, as Dad imagined back in 1956. If there were a few more inches on the ground, a few more clouds threatening to disrupt traffic, then there would be a chance for school to call for a snow day. But that seems unlikely at the moment. The ground outside is white, but I can still distinguish the lines separating the sidewalk from the lawn, a telltale sign that there is barely an inch of snow on the ground.

Born and raised in sunny California, I often wondered what it was like to look forward to snow days as a kid. Would I meet my friends for a snowball fight? Could I make a snowman in my front lawn? During the winter months, the only precipitation we saw was rain. And you cannot do anything with rain.

But it did hail once; I think I was in the 7th grade. Now, the upper stratosphere over LA could reach freezing levels, surprising us occasionally with a smattering of hail that usually melted on contact with any earthly object. But this 7th grade hail was different–at least for a few moments. I was bored, as usual, trying my best to entertain myself by printing words in the margins of my notebook. I printed in a faux-gothic style the word “Fickle Finger of Fate”, a phrase I had picked up from Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. I have never been accused of being artistic, but I have always liked texts, not just to read, but to look at. Script, fancy print, even signatures have always caught my attention, and I fancied myself a competent copier of them. At the moment, I was admiring my latest artistic rendering of the “Fickle Finger of Fate” when I heard screams and cackles from the outdoor second floor hallway.

Immediately drawn to a new distraction, I rushed outside and saw pointing to the ground. I pushed my way to the chest-high wall and looked over the ledge and was shocked to see a ground that was completely white.

“It’s snowing” was the refrain streaming out of everyone’s mouths. But one of the teachers, obviously more knowledgeable about things meteorological, set us straight. “It’s hail,” she said. “It’s probably cold enough for it not to melt right away.”

She was very matter of fact in her attempts to quell our excitement, but her words went unnoticed. The ground had turned white, the Earth seemed to have bumped off its axis.

“Its snow,” I thought, even though I knew it was hail. I wanted to run downstairs and grab a handful of my first fistful of snow. I wanted taste it. I wanted to make a snow angel. But our teacher herded us back into the classroom, assuring us the “hail” would still be there when school let out in another thirty minutes. But when the school bell rang at 3:20 PM, the hail had turned to rain and the school ground had returned to asphalt black.

* * * * *

It’s now 4:44 AM and I can still see the outline of the sidewalk outside. It has stopped snowing and the likelihood of a snow day seems as remote as ever. I wish it would have snowed a bit more so I could enact what my Dad composed some fifty years ago. But as I peak through the blinds of my second floor bedroom window, I remember the feeling that my first “snow” aroused. I find it pleasant and perhaps a bit reassuring that now, having grown up to be a teacher, I can still find the prospects of snow exciting.