Sunday, January 30, 2011

Snow Day - redux

First posted 1/09

A while ago I wrote about how much I love September and going back to school.

Kids, bands, football, fall colors, dry air. I love it all.

But, going back to school after winter break? Not so much. It's altogether different. It's cold or wet or rainy or snowy or all of the above in Western Pennsylvania in January. There are a handful of sunny days but the norm is overcast and dreary. And when the alarm goes off at 4:45AM, there's nothing good about that in the winter.

A hot cup of tea starts my cold dark mornings, followed by a trip on *slippy, bending, hilly roads, and ending with a pile of research papers and mid-term exams waiting for me when I arrive at my desk.

The only light at the end of this depressing tunnel is the possibility of a SNOW DAY! I love snow days! One good snow day and everything stops, the universe shifts and for twenty-four hours the dark depressing routine of the winter day lifts. One good snow day is all I need to get me through a winter. Two snow days and it's Christmas break again for a short while. More than two though and there's talk of make-up days in June. People start snapping at each other.

Yes, one good snow day is enough.

It usually starts like this. The day before a snow day someone hears a weather report and whispers of, "Did you hear about the storm moving in?" circulate around the building.

Timing is everything for a snow day. If it starts snowing too soon, 9PM ish, then the plows and salt trucks have time to get the roads cleared by the next morning. Not good. If it starts snowing too late, say 5AM then the roads aren't bad enough for the buses and everyone can get to school before it gets icy, deep and dangerous. The plows can clear the roads while school is in session and be ready to take students home safely. Not good.

The best time for the snow to start falling is 2AM, with a light dusting, escalating to a dense downward flow, (as opposed to that blowing in all directions stuff that never accumulates at all) and continuing with a hard, non-stop deluge of small but powerful little flakes with no end in sight. It should be very cold and there should be a good four to five inches on the ground so that by 5AM when a decision has to be made, administrators calling the bus garage will get the news that the roads are simply too dangerous to transport students! Hurray!

Back in the day before computers, emails and texts, the phone chain would be started. Oh....the phone chain. You gotta love the phone chain. A ringing phone at 5AM in the winter could only mean one thing in a teacher's home. Roll over and go back to sleep. But, not before stumbling around the house in the dark looking for your phone chain to call the next person on it. Heaven forbid someone breaks the chain and another teacher doesn't get the call and makes the treacherous drive to school only to find it dark and empty.

But, a snow day is the best. An unexpected, completely necessary, day off. A day to do anything or nothing. A day to thank the lucky stars you are a teacher.

*slippy = Pittsburghese for slippery

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