BY SARAH NIGBOR Snow Day!
Are there two more glorious words to a child? Snow Day!
Even if kids like school (which mine do), there is something magical about waking up to a snow day.
Back in the olden days (as my 9-year-old daughter describes my 1980s/90s childhood), all the fancy alert systems we have in place today did not exist. Facebook wasn’t even a thought yet. There was no automated call that went out to district parents. There were no mass emails sent. We had to wrestle ourselves from the warm blankets and plop in front of the TV to watch the scrolling bar on the local news stations, which announced area school closings. Or listen to WEVR radio station out of River Falls.
I went to school in River Falls, and it never failed that I tuned in when they were on the towns that started with “S.” So I’d have to wait for an entire cycle in breathless anticipation to see if River Falls School District was on the magical list of lucky ducks who had a day off. My excitement would build as towns around us appeared: Baldwin! Ellsworth! Elmwood! New Richmond! Pepin! Plum City! Prescott! Wait, wait, here it comes! Nope, right through the Rs (Redwood Falls, Minn., was always on the dang list) to the S towns again, where Spring Valley stood out to me like a sore thumb.
Maybe I am remembering it wrong, but it was very, very rare that River Falls called off school. All the districts around us would be closed, and River Falls students would get on buses in their overstuffed snowsuits and shuffle into the halls of learning. It was such a letdown when that happened, but on the rare occasion that we did have a snow day, it was that much more special.
Now that I’m older and maybe wiser, I realize that many of the districts around us have more challenging terrain for their buses to navigate. Think of the steep, wooded bluffs along the Mississippi or in the southern part of Ellsworth Community School District. Same goes for Plum City, Elmwood and Spring Valley. Not that River Falls is a flat abyss, but it doesn’t have the winding roads and bluffs that those areas do.
But I wasn’t wise with that information back then, and going to school on days that other districts had snow days was like a punch in the gut.
On those precious snow days, it was almost better than Christmas morning. Sleeping in, reading books under cozy covers, bundling up to build snow forts with my best friend, drinking hot chocolate and spending time with my grandpa. I’d help shovel the driveway, or if he used the snowblower, I’d make snow angels while he cleared the snow.
My poor mother and grandmother didn’t get snow days. They still had to go to work. I remember when my mom worked in Woodbury, Minn., and had to drive her little red Plymouth Acclaim through drifts of blowing snow. She never missed a day due to weather. I always laugh when people complain of driving in the snow, because I think of her and how it never fazed her. She always said, “We live in Wisconsin people, and it snows! You better get used to it unless you want to sit home all winter.” I think that attitude has passed onto me, because driving in snow doesn’t bother me either. Ice, that’s a different story.
Now that many districts are turning to virtual learning days when weather prevents students from coming in, I can’t help but feel sad for those kids. I know that a virtual day is not a whole day, but there was just something about getting that unexpected gift of an entire free day.
As I write this, it is a Snow Day! I have a lot of work to do, but I’m sure we will make time for snow angels, shoveling, hot chocolate and memories.