Snow is a funny thing. It's so soft, so light, and yet it has such power over us... power to thrill and terrify. My students were abuzz yesterday with the coming storm, a day off from school being taken as a given thing long before the official cancellation was announced. I'm not sure what they do on a snow day, these nine year olds of mine, but it certainly beats being in school - at least in their eyes. I like to think that they spend at least a chunk of the day frolicking out-of-doors, rather than plastered to the living room floor with their eyes on a big screen all day. Or, at least, curled up with a good book.
Yesterday evening was a different story, as I stopped by the grocery store to pick up brownie mix (this constituting my entire plans for the day off work - making brownies with my boy). The parking lot was solid-packed with cars, and all about me hustled grim faces and carts filled to overflowing with survival rations. You'd think that the weather had been predicted to blizzard for three days, rather than a one day dump of six to twelve inches. Not a smile to be seen, up and down the aisles - employees stone-faced, restocking shelves picked over by the shambling mob, parents looking vaguely desperate in the breakfast cereal section. I had to restrain myself from laughing out loud; we New Englanders are a notoriously sturdy bunch, and here were people behaving as though they'd be snowed in for a week on scant provisions. Didn't they listen to the weather? Or were the family larders really that bare?
Or does something else happen in between childhood and adulthood? Something that changes a snowstorm from a one day "get out of jail free" card to something more sinister? It can't be just the shoveling, though I'm no fan of that myself and am happy to leave it to my husband - at least until we join the technological world and invest in a snow blower. I doubt that it's being home with the kids, though cabin fever sets in quickly for me, so I can empathize with others who feel the same. Could it be the snow itself, awakening some long-buried racial memory of a time when even a one day storm could and did cause rations to be guarded and people to hunker down for days? Or maybe we're just programmed to dread winter weather as we age... those of us who can, fly south for the winter; those who can't, well, we stick it out one way or another.
Snow is, for sure, a funny thing.