Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Snow Days

I used to wait for them. Breathless in anticipation. Yearning with longing. Wide-eyed and filled with excitement, I'd watch the weather report with every passing winter's day, hoping for just one glimpse of a collision of the meteorological type in the skies above where low front collided with a high pressure zone and the city would be locked up in frigid arctic air. Those days when school was closed. The city crawled to a halt and only the brave ones ventured out to test their mettle against the environment.

What was winter without one good snow day?

As a child, before we moved across the ocean to a land where snow seldom fell with enough accumulation to turn off the world, snow days were the highlight of the winter season. They could even beat out Christmas if only because you could never predict their arrival, never know for sure when one would turn up and cover the world in a woolly white blanket that immobilized cars and buses and most importantly, shut the doors to schools.

I loved snow days.

But age and time have mellowed my enjoyment of winter's deposits clogging up roads and sidewalks. Age has made me appreciate the fierce force of winter's cold and time has helped me understand the deadly effects of exposure to the elements.

and yet, the beauty and magic of a snow day still remains.

The sense of quiet. The soft lyrical fall of air filled with snowflakes falling gently to the ground. Each one unique. Each one identifiable as 'different yet the same'.

Once upon a time a snow day was an invitation to get outside and frolic in the drifts gathering up on the lawn. To leap and throw my body with abandon into fluffy white mounds of winter's wonder.

Now, a snow day is a time to sit inside, warm and toasty, sipping hot tea, watching the world fill with white magic, listening for the muffled sound of tires on the few cars brave enough, or foolish enough as the case my be, to risk driving on the snow-filled road.

Recently, a snow day caused my plans to change. I was scheduled to speak at a conference in Edmonton, a three hour drive to the north of Calgary. I hadn't listened to the weatherman the day before. Hadn't checked the meteorological reports until the morning.

When I awoke, snow blanketed in the ground. A fierce north wind blew. Windows rattled against icy blasts. I checked the road report. Deep red lines inched their way north. Halfway up the provincial highway, they shifted abruptly from red to green. If I could make it to Red Deer, I'd have clear sailing.

It wasn't worth it. An hour and a half driving in winter storm conditions was too much anxiety. Too much danger.

It is a benefit of age. When I see danger ahead, I don't have to plow into it to ensure it really is danger lurking and not just some mirage of undetermined pedigree trying to keep me from doing what I want to do. I don't have to go out on the highway to prove to danger I can handle it, or am better than it, or 'cooler'.

Like winter, danger isn't the drawing card it used to be. Where once snow meant skiing fearlessly down mountainsides and climbing high upon glaciers, today, snow means an opportunity to curl up with a warm cup of tea and watch the snow fall and listen to the wind howl and feel the house vibrate with errant gusts of wind whistling around the corners, knowing, all the while, I am safe inside. At peace. Secure.

And yet, snow days still have their allure. their call to step out of the every day and into the magic and wonder of a wintery world cast in shadows, blanketed by pure white snow. They still hold the mystery of time spent meditating, feeling the moment settling around me like snow drifting down a chimney melting in the warm coals of a fire below, sizzling in the heat steaming upwards.

Snow days.

Once upon a time they called me out to experience the wild wonder of a world silenced beneath winter's blanket.

In the here and now, they call me inside, into that place where I am at peace, where I am at one with myself, no matter the weather, no matter how fierce the winds may blow around me. Today, the sizzle comes from within, each drop of snow a reminder to grow quiet, peaceful, serene. to let time and space expand into the wonder of being all of me, no matter how stormy the world outside.



It's another Blog Carnival over at Peter Pollock's place. Today's one word prompt is: Winter.

go on. You know you want to.

give it a try.

give the writer's a read.

click on over to Peter's place and get lost in the wonder of WINTER!

The Blog Carnival's FaceBook page is here.

The prompt for the next Blog Carnival is "renewal". The complete list is here.


Maureen said...

Hope you're cozy and warm today. We're supposed to get a storm later this evening. Ah, winter!

Brandi said...

I think there is a romantic notion to a snow day, if you can be snowed in with a loved one :)

S. Etole said...

The different faces winter wears ... you've presented them well.

JTS said...

As a child growing up in South Dakota, I too relished those snow days that meant school would be closed. I have vivid memories of huddling around the furnace vent with my sisters in our pajamas, listening to the radio announcer review the long list of school closings. The name of our town started with a W, so it would always be near the end. When we heard it we would cheer... and mom would groan. :-)

I share your love of the magic of first snowfalls, the soft pure white blanket which covers everything, muffles sound, and limits movement outside. We seldom see that where I live now. But I have no desire to drive on icy roads, I remember that well too!

I love your use of this story to talk about danger and how we approach it. One of the dangers I found myself attracted to was "bad boys"... the excitement, the risk, the possibility of taming one. LOL It took me to age 50 to figure out that "bad boys" are bad for you. I have a good guy now, and it's as magical as that first snowfall!

Hope said...

beautifully written, beautifully said, Louise.
I romanticize winter as well. that's my best way to cope with it, what can i say! :)

wonderful write!

nature0wonderama said...

dear and divine.... snow = s now .....is silent now.
love all

p.s....thanks to trisha for suggesting your blog....is worth time..thanks

Anonymous said...

when i was a child i loved rainy days :)


Ruth said...

I really enjoy reading what snow days have meant, and mean to you now. I relate to all of it. I have become such a person of winter now that I relate to it more than any other season. I love Wallace Stevens' poem "The Snow Man," which has become so much a part of me, I can't remember ever being without "a mind of winter."