Thursday, January 14, 2016

Writer’s Workshop: Snow Days? HA!


One of Mama Kat’s prompts for today is

Describe what snow days were like when you were a child. What made them memorable?



I grew up in the Chicago area. We didn’t do snow days.

Well, they were on the school calendar, in the event that we needed them. It didn’t mean we could expect snow on those days; I mean, one was in September, which was still pretty warm, and the other was in April, when it was just starting to get warm. The idea was, if they didn’t have to cancel school up to that day, it was a day off from school. I went to that high school for three years, and can’t remember a situation where they had to use them for the purpose they were on the calendar.

The only time I can remember that school was closed for weather was during the “Big Snow” in January, 1967. I really didn’t think of it that way, because the day the Big Snow started was the day my father died. We wouldn’t have gone to school, anyway. It played havoc with the funeral arrangements, believe me.

But besides that time, I don’t remember school being canceled because of weather, or for any other reason. It could be snowing heavily, and we’d still be expected to show up, on time and ready to learn. And there was no early-release because of weather, either; if a foot of snow accumulated between 8:30 AM and 3:30 PM, too bad, you had to slog through it. On one such day, I was walking home, and my biology teacher drove up beside me and told me to get in, she’d give me a ride. She didn’t live that far from me, and although she had to drive a couple of blocks out of her way, she didn’t mind, and I appreciated it.

We moved to the Atlanta area twenty-eight years ago. Here, if it snows, they close the schools. In fact, in the county where we live, if there’s even the slightest threat of snow, they close the schools, and the grocery stores run out of milk and bread. I used to think that was funny until the first time I had to drive in snow here. They don’t have much snow removal equipment here, and my neighbors seem to think that driving in snow is the same as driving on dry pavement. I was driving home, slowly, and had some clown in a Mercedes riding on my bumper the whole time, wanting to get around me. When we got to the light before the bridge over the Chattahoochee River, the guy sped around me and gave me the finger. When he got onto the bridge, he did a “900”, meaning he spun around two and a half times and ended up on the side of the road. When I drove past him, the guy was white as a ghost.

When we first moved here, the neighbors told us it wasn’t necessary to buy a snow shovel, because the snow always melts by noon. “Everybody’ll know you’re a Yankee,” they told me. So far, when it has snowed here, it hasn’t all melted by noon. It usually takes a good three days for everything to get back to normal, because it’ll melt during the day and re-freeze overnight. There are a lot of hills here, and ice on a hill means a huge traffic jam because no one can get up the hill. And just because a street is clear doesn’t mean there aren’t still little patches of ice on the street in areas that get no sunlight because the shadow from a tree or house keeps the area out of the sunlight.

But snow days here are rare. Maybe once a season, and while it doesn’t all melt by noon, it doesn’t stick around all winter. On the whole, I’d rather live here.

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

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