"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Day

Being on the teacher end of a snow day is one of life's greatest gifts. It's a summer day in the middle of winter - unspent, unpromised and full of undefined possibility. Wednesday's snow day was particularly sweet, a midweek break from classroom Christmas craziness. 

One day would have been sufficient. The three we've received are a bounty of time that I'm rolling around in like Toby does bad-smelling things in the woods.

I spent most of Wednesday on the couch, in my Christmas decorated living room, wrapped in the wool throw I brought back from my summer Scotland adventures, absorbed in the latest Wally Lamb book. One cat stretched on the back of the couch by my head, another tucked at my knees, the third curled in a tight ball in my rocker across the room. The cold white outside is achingly beautiful from my nest in the warm red inside.

A combination of guilt, twinging back (from all that laying around), and curiosity compelled me to take Toby for a walk. In the below freezing, slippery, snowy blowy outdoors. 

I've become old-ladyish about being cold - actually about most physical discomfort. I'd rather not be cold or uncomfortable. But I'd also rather not be old-ladyish, so I made myself move.

I bundled. Two pairs of pants. Three heavy shirts and a lined denim barn coat. Two pairs of socks and rubber boots. Gloves, a wool scarf, a hat. I felt like the little kid in A Christmas Story. If I fell, I would have to roll home because there was no way I could bend enough to get back up.

By the time I was putting socks on, Toby had to be put outside because he was so excited his tail was sweeping things off of every nearby surface. Plus it's hard to put things on feet that are being stood on by 95 pounds of happy golden dog.

Toby's excitement took me well into the walk before I realized that I was actually enjoying my own self, not just his bouncing enthusiasm. I was plenty warm. The deep crunch of snow underfoot resonated clear up to my chest. And the transformed world was a wonder to behold.

The river had gone from its usual green/blue/brown translucence to an opaque shade somewhere between mercury and steel. A thick elemental being, flowing around snow-covered rocks, barely registering the sky-jumping flakes landing on its surface.

I stood at the bank and looked up into the dizzying other-worldly dance. Stuck my tongue out to catch flakes. Noticed a hint of movement at the top of a tall snag across the river. My eagle. Sitting high, still and almost invisible. Watching. I watched back, happy. He flew, eventually, upstream and away and I headed for home. 

There's still work to be done, obligations to meet, snow days to be made up. I'll be complaining in June about having to be in school longer than the original calendar promised. But June is months and lifetimes away. And just maybe I can enjoy these days enough that the remembering will make the later start of summer seem worth the cost. It seems a necessary happiness.

photos by Walt Shucka


1933margaret said...

Felt like I was right there with you. Miss the snow here in Florida. Just got Scotty a Golden for xmas. Her name is Daisy. She is precious.

M said...

I'm so thankful that you are able to receive the little gifts that God gives you...and realize that they really aren't so small after all. Enjoy the moments that He gives you...and continue to share them with the rest of us.

Merry Christmas



Jerri said...

Toby is so beautiful. And what grace to see the eagle again.

You may avoid cold but you, my dear, are anything but old lady-ish.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

A necessary happiness? OH MY GOD! What a line!

I just got Wally Lamb's new book, trying to hurry and finish the one I'm on so I can start it! I'm so excited!

kario said...

God, you are amazing! I love the description of the color of the river - absolutely perfect.

I am so pleased that you were able to get this much-deserved snow break. I love the idea of you cuddled up with your blanket and your book. It makes me think, not of old ladies, but wise women. That, you definitely are.


She said...

OMG, Wally Lamb has a new book, and no one told me! How did I miss that?!

I have such a huge stack to read, but here I go to Amazon again!

Your words wrap around me like a wool blanket. They are that good!

Love you.