Thursday, January 20, 2005

Snow Day

This week a chapter of my life is coming to a close. After almost 23 years of stay-at-home momhood, I will see the younger of my two children off to his last regular day of high school. Although he plans to spend next semester participating in two internships to gain "life experience" before his formal graduation in June, he's finished with classes.

This is finals week, and today was supposed to have been his last day of school. But now the schedule must be adjusted because of what happened yesterday.

It was a Snow Day.

It was unexpected, as such days usually are. You who live in warmer climates might not realize how much more difficult snow is to predict than rain. "Six to eight inches," the weatherman will say, and then we'll get two. When a "light dusting" is called for, we might end up with three inches of white stuff. So the thick blanket of snow we woke up to yesterday morning was a surprise, but not an unwelcome one to me. We didn't get a lot of snow, but it came in the wee morning hours, not giving the snowplows time enough to clear it off the roads before the school buses had to start making their rounds.

So yesterday morning when my "baby", who now towers over me, went outside to shovel snow off the driveway and sidewalks (we have a snow-blower, but it called in sick), it occurred to me that I have one more thing to add to my list of "lasts", as my sister calls those once-common experiences that we enjoyed but never fully appreciated because we didn't realize how soon they would come to an end.

Yesterday was my last Snow Day.

Oh, it will snow again. Schools will be closed and delighted children will track through my front yard. But they won't be my children, and I'm not ashamed to say that brings a lump to my throat.

Following is a slightly edited version of something I wrote in my private journal many years ago. I hope you enjoy it.

Snow Day
by Brenda Coulter

As I reach over my husband's head to slap the snooze button of the blaring alarm clock, I am aware of a strange brightness in the room. It's the deepest part of winter, so it should be inky dark at six o'clock.

With sleep-weighted eyes, I shuffle toward the window and push aside the lace curtain and see what is reflecting all this light into our bedroom: eight inches of freshly fallen snow.

I move soundlessly down the hallway, past the boys' room, heading for the kitchen. Although certain of what I will hear, I snap on the radio for the official word. I listen intently as a chirpy drive-time deejay reads a lengthy list of area school closings. Finally hearing our district announced, I smile with quiet satisfaction and switch the radio off. But before I head back to my toasty bed for another blissful hour, I look in on my two sleeping boys. Soon they will open their eyes and glory in the realization that this is a Snow Day.

It happens in our area only two or three times each winter. While children often go to bed excited by the possibility that a heavy overnight snowfall will hold back the big yellow buses in the morning, they are usually disappointed. Today they won't be, and I am glad.

An hour later I arise for the second time and wander into the boys' room. I press gentle kisses against a silky cheek, delighting in its warmth. Then I move to the other side of the room and nuzzle a velvety ear before greeting the sleepers with a playful voice, "Good morning! Look outside!"

There are no slow awakenings on this day. The boys' eyes fly open and their slender bodies erupt from the beds in frenzied delight. They tear through the house to throw open first the front door and then the back. They hold out hands to catch quarter-size snowflakes in their palms. They marvel at the whitewashed trees. Standing safely in the kitchen, they kick with bare toes at the pristine drift piled high against the doorway.

After serving a breakfast of blueberry muffins and hot chocolate, I stuff my six-year-old into snow pants before snuggling his double-socked feet into sturdy boots. My eleven-year-old is way too cool for snow pants, so I encourage him to pull jeans over the sweatpants he slept in.

Somehow my husband manages to get his car out of our snow-clogged street and onto the main road, which has already been plowed. As I get dressed I hear delighted squeals from outside, along with an occasional muffled thump as a snowball hits the side of the house.

By the time my boys have blazed trails through every front yard in the neighborhood, I'm halfway through a friendly pot of Earl Grey Tea. I bring in more wood and stack it by the roaring fireplace, then sweep the hearth, readying it to receive the wet boots and snow-encrusted mittens to be warmed and dried. A satisfied smile tugs at my mouth as I pour another cup of tea and think of the errands and chores I can't possibly accomplish today. I'm snowed in with the kids!

Before long I am struggling into my own boots and gloves, anticipating a lively tramp through the snow. Of course the boys are more interested in building snow forts than in walking with Mom, but I persuade them to accompany me. At first we marvel at oddly shaped drifts and laugh at the wobbly tire-tracks where drivers had trouble finding the street under all this snow. Then the boys run on, squealing and shrieking and tossing snowballs. I laugh out loud, picuturing them as a pair of rambunctious dogs out for a walk. They run far ahead, pausing only now and then to glance over their shoulders and see whether I'm still following.

The delightful day passes quickly. The boys track melting snow into the house again and again as they return to thaw themselves by the fire and guzzle hot chocolate before booting up and going out again. Soon the dove gray sky darkens, and as my elder son finishes shoveling the driveway I started on earlier, in preparation for his father's arrival, I remove a hearty chicken casserole from the oven.

The topic of conversation at our dinner table is predictable: Will there be school tomorrow? Eager faces turn towards Daddy but fall when he says the snowplow crews will work through the night to keep the roads cleared.

Soon the boys are bathed and storied and tucked into bed. They ask again, hoping a late-breaking weather bulletin has revealed that another snowstorm is on the way, but I shake my head. Go to sleep, I tell them. Tomorrow is a school day.

Unless it snows again.

© Copyright 1994 by Brenda Coulter. Permission granted to freely distribute "Snow Day" for non-commercial purposes if unedited and copied in its entirety, including this paragraph. To learn more about this inspirational romance author, please visit her website at or her blog at


Anonymous said...

Hey Brenda,
Liked your story "SnowDay" brought a tear to my eye
just thinking back when I was a kid wishing for snow days! Thanks

Marci said...

Hi Brenda - just clicked in from the FiF site - only half an hour and I can go home.:) And it's snowing.Yeah!
Liked your snow day story. We've had a week of "rain days" here and in this part of Canada that's not very common in January! I'm glad to see the white stuff falling. My daughter rolled her fiance's vehicle in the other stuff! (she wasn't hurt, PTL, but it made my heart beat faster! - see my blog on that.) And people were falling down all over the place because of the freezing rain.
So I'm happy to see the snow.
Anyway - guess I'd better go and count the wee bit of cash that came in today so I can go home.
Blessings to you. :)Marci

Anonymous said...

Brenda, what a nice piece on Snow Days! I'll remember to appreciate the next Snow Day here instead of griping about it, LOL.


Anna said...

What a great piece on snow days! They truly do exist in their own world.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, everyone, for taking the time to read and comment on "Snow Day". I'm afraid I was feeling a little sad yesterday, but somehow posting that essay (which I wrote years ago) cheered me up.

Brenda Coulter said...

Uh, sorry about that. I forgot to sign my name!

Anonymous said...

yeah...those "lasts" can really get to you

Don't know why I seem to always identify them...I just want to give more importance to an otherwise commonplace event that I desperately want to hold on to. As if placing a title on it will help it stick in my mind as a cherished memory.

My now grown children do it as well..... I guess it is a family thing.

Speaking of lasts...when was the last time you phoned your favorite sister?