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