Snow days are a phenomenon I did not grow up with as a kid in southern California. There just wasn't any snow. Our most extreme weather was always (and still is) rain. That was about as exciting as things got in terms of weather. We did not have spectacular displays of brilliant gold and crimson leaves in the fall and there was no magical wake-up to a winter wonderland on Christmas morning. No, folks where I grew up flocked their Christmas trees in an effort to make them look like they were just cut from a freshly blanketed New Hampshire pasture.
Now that I live on the right side of the country - ha, get it: the right side? - I am lucky enough to enjoy clearly defined seasons, one of which affords a certain group of working professionals something comparable to Christmas morning: the snow day. This is a miraculous event and when one is blessed with such a treat, there is nothing better. Seriously, little else can top it. Well, perhaps Alton Brown's recipe for cocoa brownies. Maybe that's about it. My first year of teaching, we experienced what locals now refer to as "snowmageddon." This part of the country got pounded with endless drifts of snow which resulted in one glorious week of consecutive snow days. It was my first experience and it must have been beginner's luck because we haven't had anything like it since.
Here's how an eminent snow day works. You watch the news in the evening hoping the weather man forecasts several inches of snow. I take that back. During lunch in the teacher's lounge, someone pulls out their fancy schmancy touchy screen phone and looks up the weather. We all sit quietly and not so patiently waiting for the wise sage with the fancy phone to forecast our fate. The key to the snowfall is that it must fall in the wee hours of the morning, thus screwing up the school bus routes because the plows and salt have not had time to reach all the secondary roads (secondary roads: roads kids live on, roads school buses travel to pick up said school children). There is a delicate balance to this equation. If the snowfall hits to early, then it will be swept away in time for school. If it comes to late, like it did today, then we're already there and there's no turning back.
Last night the weatherman called for 1-3 inches of snow. Definitely not worthy of a snow day, but possibly guaranteeing a delay - this is a secondary phenomenon when the weather is crappy, but not crappy enough to call the whole day. A two-hour delay gives the city time to plow and salt and get the kids to school. It's a worthy runner up to the glorious snow day. Last night I went to sleep with dreams of a lazy morning. The wind howled as I crawled into bed, a silly smile on my face, certain of tomorrow's delay. When my alarm rang this morning, I popped out of bed, giddy with excitement, pulled back the curtain on our bedroom window and expected to see a freshly laid carpet of heavenly white gold.
Instead I saw grass. The damn grass. And cement. And my car covered in ice. SHIT!
I still held a small thread of hope. Into the living room I went, turned on the TV to the morning news and looked for our school district's name to pop up at the bottom of the screen with the information. See, round these parts with this kind of weather, if there's a delay or a cancellation, the district calls it in to the local channels and they post a rolling list of all those schools. To my horror in red at the bottom of the screen it read my school district's name: OPEN. Argh!!
Needless to say there were plenty of disgruntled teachers trickling into work this morning. And wouldn't you know it - more snow fell at about 1 pm, covering the roads, making 'em all slippery. Stupid snow. Where were you nine hours earlier, eh?
It used to be that there wasn't anything to get excited about or be disappointed when let down. In California, there was never a surprise free, a stay-at-home-in-your-pjs-and-lounge-on-the-couch-cause-you-had-nothing-planned-and-didn't-bring-home-any-work kind of day. No superintendent ever called a cancellation or delay because it was too sunny and the waves just perfect for surfing. Yeah, definitely no official "surf day." We knew all the days we'd be working. Period. But now I know and I cannot claim ignorance anymore. I can't rewind time and un-know.
And this, dear reader, is now the both blessed and blasted forked tongue I live with: the possibility of a snow day/delay.