Sunday, February 20, 2005

Snow Day

Yesterday was a snowday. Might it have been the last of the winter storms. Probably not, but each successive one will melt faster than its predecessor. Because I know that this snowfall will soon melt, I didn't bother to shovel-out completely. I compromised by clearing the stairs, doorways, a narrow footpath up the driveway, and two strips wide enough to serve as tire tracks. The car would have managed fine without the last step, but that small proaction assuaged my conscience somewhat.

My Cuppa has a wonderful ability to put on her rose coloured glasses and make the best of life. She proclaimed yesterday a Snow Day. Not very often, but sometimes once a winter, and in a good year twice, they used to close the schools, and I would be treated to a day off. I can't tell you how wonderful that was. You might have to be a teacher to truly understand.

On potential snowdays, I always listened to the radio with bated breath. Sometimes there would be no accommodation for the weather; sometimes buses would be cancelled; on rare occasions the schools would be closed. The Board was always reluctant to close the schools. It always seemed to me that they couldn't abide the thought of teachers having a day off. If they stopped at halting the buses but leaving the schools open, the teachers were still forced to go in — well, only if we wanted to be paid.

This was particularly inane when I taught at a bused country school. So many students were bused that the scant remaining ones soon rightly concluded that there was little point in hanging around, following their schedules, and proceeding to near-empty classrooms — empty except for one or two students and one teacher who could do little but advise them to find some homework to do.

It always peeved me to be forced to drive myself twenty miles in my little car when it was deemed unsafe for the buses to roll. Of course it was a short-sighted, anti-teacher tactic. I don't know what turned the Board against the teachers. Yes I do: these were petty reprisals for difficult negotiations and disagreements at contract time.

Even worse than presiding over empty classrooms in the country school were the quarter-filled to half-filled classrooms of the city schools, which, in our area, still had a fair proportion of bused students. What do you do with less than half a class? Do you go on and let the other half catch up (yeah sure), or do you give in and at best find a video and at worst tell them to find something constructive to do, which you hoped wouldn't be cards. It got worse during the day as more students drifted home. I say it got worse, but if enough came to their senses, it actually got better. Those who stayed, perhaps due to parental pressure, always moaned and groaned, but they were fewer in number. Regardless, it was never a pleasant experience to be grumped at all day as if we were the ones responsible for their unhappy predicament.

We live in a border town, and it was never pleasant to listen to the American reports. They seemed to cancel buses and close schools at the drop of a ... snowflake. What a difference a border makes!

To come full circle, you can see why a genuine, Schools-Closed Snow Day was such a treat. So it was that yesterday, Cuppa put on her rose coloured glasses and declared yesterday to be snowday. Life is mostly about intention, and although we didn't do much differently, the intentional declaration that it was a Snow Day left me feeling different inside, somewhat mellow.

We had different food. Our usual breakfast consists of a healthy cold cereal (among other things), but I made hot cereal yesterday — oat bran cooked in apple juice (half apple juice and half water) with a dash of cinnamon. For lunch, a toasted tuna sandwich substituted for the usual pita or flatbread with cheese. For dinner (or supper) we enjoyed more of a breakfast in the form of an omelette — once again with toast and JAM. We can live a month on one loaf of bread these days, so two lots of toast in one day represents life on the edge for us. With both lunch and supper, we also had one or two little dessert chocolates — living in life's fast lane indeed.

Other than that, we pretty well did what we always do, except that we read a lot more than usual. I was deeply into Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer which I thoroughly enjoyed. Although it is a novel, its theme is ecological. I learned a lot about the value of predators in the food chain and how silly we have been in our senseless destruction of the big bad wolf etc based on misunderstanding and lack of comprehension. It sounds odd I know, but, in addition to being scientifically educational, it also dealt with human struggles and relationships in a wonderful way. It was positively endearing and upbeat. Cuppa's assessment of Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos is a much more restrained, "It's different." That hardly strikes me as a ringing endorsement, and I consequently find myself not terribly tempted to pounce and devour.

It was all most pleasant. For much of the time we were side by side (see the photo below) basking in the warmth of the fireplace. We'd glance outside and feel good about being inside, together but apart, both reading but in different worlds. There is much to be said for being apart in our togetherness, which I steal partly from one of Cuppa's favourite quotes.

There is also much to be said for making joy and not just expecting it to be there for the taking. You can make joy simply; it doesn't always have to be an expensive and extensive production. Some people live for sinful pleasures, but the wise and happy live for simple pleasures.

Enjoying simple pleasures in simple togetherness.



Iona said...

Nice entry. Wish we had a Snow Day here sometimes.. Nice picture too! The chairs seem incredibly comfy!

Donna said...

Nice pic of you two engaging in my favorite simple pleasure :O)

Powerpuff said...

Ahhh...snowdays..a student's dream as well as a teacher's, so of course, I can relate. Yesterday, I too, sat here in my cozy (but frightfully messy) Toronto basement apartment with my beautiful girlfriend (who I must say looks shockingly quite like you!) Together we sat here, the two of us also together in the same room (with Nina Simone's heavy-hearted, volumptuous voice singing quietly in the background) and each of us in our two different worlds, much like you and Cuppa. I was hunched over my laptop, delving into the world of public health and the impact of health upon marginalized groups, while she had her nose buried in the depths of "Native American Postcolonial Psychology." Yes, we looked quite like the two of you in your photo...just as cozy..but way more mess in the background. Both of us shared the same sense of closeness of the moment and the same passion of our studies...when suddenly she looked up and said to me, her voice quivering a little, "Oh my G-d...I think we're turning into my parents!" ;)

kathy said...

Today we had a Rain Day...yeah its still raining here in Long Beach. We had a nice cozy breakfast and wonderful coffeee! We had a Great Day in today. I enjoyed reading your blog today.

Christi said...

Oh, I am so jealous! I have been praying for a snow day! Winter is almost over, and we didn't get one snow day at all! YOu guys just look so happy in your little picture. Of course, the thought of being able to just sit and read on a day off is a far-off dream (having a two year old makes that impossible!). I am a teacher, though, and I fully understand how exciting it must have been for you. Could you wish one up for me? We don't even get a day off again until the end of March!

Mel said...

I loved that Kingsolver book--almost as quite as I loved Poisonwood Bible.

Dale said...

Surely you must know, my friend, what a lucky, lucky man you are. Cuppa too, of course.

Anvilcloud said...

Hey Powerpuff

With Cuppa's help, I finaly get it. Duh. Or D'oh.

Cuppa said...

Hi Powderpuff
I knew right away. What a hoot! I loved it.

Debra said...

Hi! Thanks so much for your comments at my blog yesterday. I hope you will come back and visit again. I am enjoying my visit at your blog and am always glad to find others who enjoy the simple things in life...for they are the best things. God bless... Debra

swamp4me said...

I love snow -- as long as it only falls once or twice a year. We aren't equipped to deal with it in our area, mentally or physically! But it is so beautiful and makes for great animal tracking fun :)

Marykay said...

We only have an occasional ice day here (South Carolina) and it is usually filled with kids tracking down their gloves and hats to try to sled on the ice. That is not really relaxing to me. But today I took a sick day - my head still filled with gunk and overtired. I put my tissue and my pillow on the couch and revelled in the quiet. I channel surfed, made a BLT sandwich and read blogs. Hooray. It was wonderful!