The spring I was a senior in high school, I caught a few minutes of a college football game on TV. The Northwestern Wildcats were playing in Evanston, IL, and I got excited.
Not because it was a good game. In the spring of 1982, the Wildcats were experiencing a 34-game losing streak that hadn’t ended yet. Nor was I excited because I would be starting classes at Northwestern in the fall. I wasn’t thinking that one day soon I would be sitting in the stadium I could see on TV.
I got excited because it was snowing there, on my birthday. It seemed so romantic to live somewhere you could get snow in March. I grew up in Maryland. We got snow only occasionally, if at all. By my birthday, daffodils were up, and spring was on its way.
Why did I think snow was cool? Because snow meant no school. It only took an inch. Snow was the cosmic gift of a Saturday in the middle of the week. It was even better than a real holiday, because it was unexpected. Some days, it even felt like a stay of execution.
Once I got to college and had to deal with the Chicago winters in person, snow was less attractive. We never got days off, no matter how much snow fell or how cold it got, but somehow it didn’t matter. I think it helped that I walked everywhere. I had to bundle up, but I never had to drive in it.
Years later, when I lived in upstate New York, I had to get to work no matter what the weather. Cornell University had a snow policy like Northwestern’s. I used to think that if the end of the world came, I would be able to turn on my radio and hear that everything was canceled due to Armageddon — except for classes at Cornell, which would be held as usual.
I no longer loved snow. Driving on slick streets made me anxious. My little Honda Civic never got stuck, not even the time I drove through snow that came up to my bumper, but I did slide through a stop sign once and just missed getting hit by another car. Snow became something I dreaded and fretted about.
Now that I live in Colorado, my family and friends think I spend October to April staring out the window at drifted snow. It does snow here, but the sunshine melts it and keeps it from building up.
The main concern when it snows is keeping the school-age children safe. In my neighborhood, they only plow along the school bus route, which does not go past our house. Our street never gets plowed. We just drive on the snow, no matter how deep, as if it weren’t even there.
When I first moved here, I was not happy about this cavalier attitude towards snow. I’m slowly adopting the local attitudes. I’m a pioneer woman. What’s a little snow? We bought a car with 4-wheel drive that handles messy roads as if they were clean and dry and now I am almost cavalier myself, although I still drive slowly when the roads are white.
I miss snow days. I tell myself that adults don’t get them, except in some places they do. Friends living in the northeast post online about spending their snow day knitting or sewing or reading and I try not to hate them. The last time my plans were completely altered by the weather was back in September during the flooding, and that was too scary to be any fun.
I fight to regain the sense of holiday that goes with fresh snow by taking time to really look at it. I see the six-fold symmetry in the flakes that land on my windshield. I decode the stories that tracks in the snow tell. I admire the way a thin layer of snow outlines every twig and branch, as if the frost faeries from Fantasia have paid us a visit. When the snow is heavy, the transformation is just as magical. The dirty and dormant landscape becomes a smooth, white, frosting-covered vista that sparkles in the sun.
I’m not saying I wouldn’t mind a little spring, some warmer weather, flowers and rain instead of snow. But I’m making peace with this long snow-filled season and trying to enjoy it for what it is: a glorious vision to enjoy, not just a hardship to endure.
Have you had it with this winter? Are you tired of snow? What do you do to cope with being an adult on a snowy day?