Snow Days

I have a very strange relationship with snow. I feel that I should like it more than I do. I don’t remember seeing snow, real snow, until I was 12 years old. I am sure that I played in the snow as a small child. My family lived in New York and Illinois until the time I was 5 and it is impossible that it never snowed once in that time, in those locations. But my earliest weather memories are so fully tied to tornadoes, to the wail of the siren and sitting down in the basement for what felt like hours but surely couldn’t have been, while my mom went up and down the stairs to get more toys, grab food, check on the darkening sky. The excitement, terror and confusion of riding out a tornado simply eclipses all other weather memories, and thus there was no room in my developing brain to store away the feeling of my very first snowfall.

I was 5 when we moved to south Texas and apart from a few small flurries that would shut down the entire town, cancel school and once actually made a friend of mine suggest that we try sledding down what would best be described as a rain-soaked, mud hill, there was never much in the way of what anyone who has ever dealt with snow would refer to as snow.

When I was 12, we moved to Michigan and I finally got what I had been waiting to see my whole life. Snow. Real snow. The first winter was mild and we only got a few inches here and there, and we thought, ha, this is great! Michigan winters aren’t as bad as everyone says! The next year, we had mounds of plowed snow at the bottom of our driveway that towered over my head, and it was probably the end of June before you could pull into the parking lot of a strip mall and not spot a pile of snow off in some far corner.

It was fun at first. It stayed fun when it was Thanksgiving or Christmas and outside was a beautiful blanket of freshly fallen, undisturbed snow. It was less fun when it was the middle of April and I’d wake up on the morning of my birthday to see flakes drifting down past my window. It was fun when they canceled school for the day in high school, which was rare, but glorious when it happened. It was less fun when they never, not once, no matter how many inches we got and however many more were on their way, canceled school in college and I always ended up with the one professor who lived in walking distance to campus and expected us all to be there for morning lecture. A 9AM class on a freezing cold February morning after months of gray days and months more to come, where you have to trudge through snow that comes up to your hips in some places and completely soaks through your pants so that you spend the rest of the day wet and shivering and as miserable as the cold, cruel, dirt-spattered snow world that surrounds you? That’s not so much fun.

Our third winter after moving to Baltimore was the now somewhat infamous Snowmageddon storm. The city was basically shut down for over a week. D couldn’t make it into work because the plows didn’t make it through our neighborhood until about 5 days after the snow stopped falling. It felt like the entire city had been frozen in place and while it was fun for a day or two, after a week or more of being trapped, you really just want to get on with your life. I imagine it’s how most people in the Northeast have been feeling. Snow is fun if you’ve gone 12 years without seeing it fall, less so if you’ve barely gone 12 hours.

Today was a snow day for most of Baltimore. I can tell through Facebook and Instagram that my friends are very excited by the first real snowfall we’ve had this winter. But I find that it is always the anticipation of snow, rather than the reality of it that excites me most. Perhaps it’s because I control my own schedule, so I can take a day off anytime I really need, and don’t have to rely on the weather to gift me a much-needed reprieve from work. I think, though, it’s more about having grown up with the desire for snow that would never come, immediately followed by the experience of a winter that never seemed to end.

Last night when the snow started falling, I thought, “oh yay. This is lovely.” After shoveling the road this morning (the city is not responsible for plowing the streets in our new neighborhood), and spending too much time crouched into a squat while I pick small chunks of ice and muddy snow out of the hair that lines my dog’s belly, I would say I’ve had my fill. This snow is welcome to melt now. No more is welcome to fall. I’d be fine if winter ended tomorrow and spring began to poke its way through the thawing ground. We all got our snow day (some of us, more snow days than we bargained for). Can we agree it’s time to move on?

Come on crocuses. I will be on the lookout for you.