Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Do's & Don'ts of Snow Days

[Note:  You may not be able to see the photos in this post; I"ve had some technical problems with disappearing photos.  Some day, when I have time, I'll put them back in!]

One of last year's Snow Days
Snow Days are one of the great pleasures of being a student and a teacher in Minnesota.  (Yes, teachers love Snow Days just as much as kids do. Any teacher who says otherwise is lying.)  

When you've spent almost your entire life in school, you develop habits, little rituals, maybe one can even call them rules, for Snow Days.  Here are mine.

First, the "Don'ts."

1.  Don't miss the opportunity to sleep in, once you've verified that school is, in fact, actually closed.  Check the Duluth News Tribune website, or the Northlands's NewsCenter's closing list.  They offer a handy-dandy service via textcaster.com that will send you texts when the Duluth schools are closed.  Check your school email.  Maybe you have friends or family who email or text you with the news.  
Boat barely visible in the distance today
Madame Greenan and my brother (who teaches history at East) usually text me.  It's always good to verify the happy truth before you hit the pillow again!  Sleep for at least one, if not two, extra hours...it's good for you!  



2.  Don't question reality!  Don't start formulating objections along the lines of "But there's hardly any snow at my house" or "The roads here are clear."  Just be grateful that Mother Nature provided the occasion, and the Superintendent of ISD 709 recognized it.  Now, go to sleep!
The second pancake



3.  Don't skip breakfast!  Once you do get up, make a special breakfast.  I usually make either French Toast or pancakes. This morning, I made pancakes.  I recommend using real Maple Syrup, in particular the syrup made by Mr K-J's father-in-law!  Take your time and do this well.  Making pancakes takes patience.  The first one never turns out right.  Feed it to your dog, if you have one, or save it for later (see Do #2 below).  I could have added blueberries or pecans to mine, but I kept them simple, adding only cinnamon and nutmeg, and I opted to fry up some fake bacon (I know, I know, fake meat products are strange, if not pathetic, but I like fake bacon). 

4.  Don't start thinking about schoolwork!  
Another picture from last winter
Hold off on that until at least after supper.  Nothing spoils the unexpected gift of freedom that comes with a Snow Day like thinking about obligations and responsibilities.  


Now, the "Do's."

1.  Do help with clearing the snow where you live.  It's good for you, and your family/neighbors will appreciate it.
Green lichen & red Mountain Ash berries

2.  Do take a quiet walk alone in the snow (take that leftover pancake with you and feed it to the birds and squirrels).  Duluth is blessed with beautiful parks and trails, so go explore them.  Enjoy the special kind of peace and silence one can only experience while walking through a snow-covered world.  

While you're at it, you might practice reciting your Poetry Out Loud poem (I know, I said don't think about schoolwork, but I don't really think of Poetry Out Loud as schoolwork--someday, when you're older, working at some very un-poetic job, you'll look back on the walk you took through the snowy woods, reciting poetry, and wish you could do it all over again).  Yesterday, Charlie K said he'd be reciting his choice, Billy Collins's "Snow Day," today, so I hope he does!  


Crashing wave
Note:  Today hasn't been a good day for being outside, as the wind is quite fierce and sharp.  I gave it a try, down on the Lakewalk, but it was pretty cold.  I wanted to get some pictures of the waves, and I did get a couple, but not great ones...


3.  Do plan something special for a bit later.  I usually go out to lunch or dinner with my brother.  It doesn't have to be anything elaborate, but whatever you do, it should be fun.  
Angry waves

4.  Do something you normally wouldn't, something you never seem to have enough time for, usually.  I often take the time on Snow Days to write to or call an old friend of mine who lives far away in Colorado.  It's something I don't do often enough.  
  
5.  Do plan an afternoon nap or plan to get to bed early--we all need more sleep than we get. 


6.  Only when you finally feel you must, Do check your teachers' homework calendars.  (Keep in mind that they want to enjoy their Snow Day, too, so don't expect them to update the calendars right away in the morning!)  

7.  Do remember that the A/B rotation does not change.  Tomorrow is another B-day, and your teachers will expect you to be prepared for it.

Note:  I know I seem to be giving conflicting advice:  first, I tell you not to think about school, and then later, I tell you to think about school.  Life is all about balance, and very few of us can claim to live a properly balanced life.  
Leif Erickson Park, last winter
One of the best things about Snow Days is that we're allowed to step outside of normal time for a few hours...it's almost as if we cross over into a parallel universe where other people's lives go on almost as normal, but we are free from all the forces that usually tie us up in knots of anxious activity...  Get as much refreshment from that little bit of freedom as you can, because it will come to an end all too soon...


8.  As the sun sets, Do make appropriate offerings to the Snow Gods.  (Ms Durant advocates dancing!  I order a pizza from Pizza Lucé and give the delivery person a very generous tip.)  Be as superstitious as you want, but--secretly, silently, sincerely--pray for another Snow Day tomorrow!  I think we had five last year--we can do better this year!  

[Update 1/7/14:  When I said we could do better, I never imagined we'd do so before the end of first semester!] 

[Update 1/27/14:  When I said we could do better, I never imagined we'd have 6 cancelled days in the 2013/14 school year!] 

[Update 1/28/14:  When I said we could do better, I never imagined we'd have 7 days of cancelled classes in the 2013/14 school year! (I'm counting this as 6.5, however, as teachers have to come in for a shortened day of meetings.)]

[Update 4/4/14: When I said we could do better, I never imagined we'd have 8 days of cancelled classes in the 2013/14 school year!]

If you have any Snow-Day habits or rules, please share them in a comment below!  
  

58 comments:

  1. Do: I always wish that I had more time to do art, so today I dug out my watercolor paints and spent the afternoon getting lost in mixing colors...
    Do not: Don't spend more than 15 minutes with your face illuminated by a computer screen.

    and... we're all doing our version of the snow dance at my house... we hope to see you early next week back at school.

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    1. Mr G, I didn't know you were a painter. I guess I broke your rule, because it took me longer than 15 minutes to write this post!

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    2. Nice work Mr. G! Do- find your way to the YMCA for a whirlpool and sauna, taking a break from shoveling everyone out of insane plowed in ice boxes for cars, snowboarding and doing backflips off your deck into perfectly executed snow angels... ;)

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  2. Do: Read a good book. I spent an hour reading and drinking coffee :-)

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  3. DO muster up the courage and inner strength (especially if you absolutely despise cold weather and snow) and bundle yourself up to spend time outside with your children. Shovel for a wee bit and then launch the biggest snowball ever at them, thus sending them into fits of giggles! They will try to get you back, of course, and you will fall down blindly in the snow while they pile on top of you. Once inside, DO treat them to the chocolatiest mug of hot chocolate ever and make it overflow with whipped cream. Who cares if they spill? They will love you forever! Oh, and DO promise them you'll do it all over again tomorrow if they don't have school!

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    1. Here's hoping about tomorrow! If we're off again, throw a snowball at Callum, Emma, and Isla for me!

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  4. Do bundle your little ones up and pull them around in the sled outside. Even if it's windy and cold, do it for a little while at least. It's worth it because their rosy cheeks are so cute once you get back inside by the fireplace.

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  5. Do catch up on your Colbert Report and Daily Show watching. Take an early nap. Don't try to finish any anything at all. That's too much pressure.

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  6. Dr N I love this! I wish I had seen #4 sooner... My mom also tried to walk on the Lakewalk during her lunch, and some woman drove by, saw her bundled up and blown about by the wind, and asked if she needed a ride. My mom replied that she was actually trying to get some exercise :) Anyway, I would like to contribute my "Do." Do grab a blanket and watch your favorite show with your dogs. Afterwards, take them for a walk. Snow days are special for them, too, because they don't have to be alone all day!

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    1. If anybody needs to think less about school, it's you, Mary! ;)

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  7. Don't panic if you decide to make cookies, but then realize you only have half of the necessary butter and no access to the road or grocery store. Do practice fraction division and cut your recipe in half. A half batch of cookies is always better than no cookies at all.

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  8. Do, for sure, send pictures of your snow day (in my case, the back stairs into the deer habitat and the front stairs after the second shovel) to your people who never get a snow day. They will be both thankful they aren't here and jealous that you are! Later, I will send them a picture of the car after it becomes completely drifted in by this afternoon's wind.

    Do put a spoon under your pillow for another snow day tomorrow so we even out A Day B Day schedules.

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    1. I've never heard that about spoons! I'll give it a try! (And, yes, we would like to even out the A/B rotation, wouldn't we?

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  9. I second "Do #8", and emphasize the generous tip. As a delivery driver (for Pizza Luce, no less, albeit in St. Paul), nothing makes frozen toes and the three near accidents we almost got in on the way to your house worth it like a good tip.

    My Don't: Don't complain to your parents that you're bored. Someday, you'll understand why they wouldn't let you journey to the Caribou across town mid-blizzard. You'll also wish you didn't work at Caribou when you're mandated to show up, snow or no snow.

    Snow days are lost on the young and unemployed.

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    1. Hi, Ben! I'll give my pizza guy an extra buck or two, just for you! Listen to you, sounding all old and wise!

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  10. I grew up in a place, northern Virginia, where my entire winter experience was endlessly longing for snow days. They were most always just a little farther north and west of Arlington. We once had a snow week but only a few memories of that remain. I absolutely agree with Dr N about how special snow days are. They are such a gift. And there never ever, ever, will be too many.

    I realize I have a very different approach to snow days. Generally, I am not good for much because I get so pumped up about having a snow day. It has happened many times that I have come to school without any sleep as I tossed and turned all night waiting for the message on the bottom of the TV screen that never came. But when it does, the adrenaline courses through my veins preventing any possibility of a nap or extra sleep. Trying to take a nap when I can hear the wind in the trees would cause me to bolt upright to see how much more snow has come down.

    In the last few winters, a new form of entertainment has begun; the artificial avalanche of snow off the steel roof of our house. So after my heart sinks a little bit, when the northwest winds howl at the end of most snow storms, I wait for the "fwump" of the massive amount of snow coming down. One more adrenaline rush for me.

    The most important thing is to enjoy the spontaneity that snow days bring.

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    1. And the prize for the longest, most poetic comment goes to Mr Diener! Quit hiding that light under a bushel and do more writing where the world can read it! --Get a blog of your own, maybe...

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  11. Dr N, thanks for the inspiration! My thoughts echo many of yours and several of the others. I pulled off #s 1 through 3 of your "Don'ts" (a new recipe for French toast for #3) and almost achieved #4, limiting the work to assembling the list of tasks. I generally followed Mary's advice (substituting pet cats for dogs). I anticipated hearing the N Minnesota wooden home "cracking" sounds (corresponding to Tom's avalanche), but then remembered that it needs to be a good bit colder for that to happen. I did play much more of my beloved Chopin than I have in a long time (think of Mike G's painting). Best of all, I experienced the joy of simply "being" at a time when several of my "obligations" were impossible to "do".

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    1. Do your cats like the snow? Just for a little bit?

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  12. Do catch up on General Hospital on a snow day. Its amazing how easy it is to catch up after not watching it for a year. Plus, characters die on one snow day and come back to life in the next year's! Snow days must have some magic about them!

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    1. Oh, Ms Fishel! If only we could get you reading, instead of watching!

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    2. I actually love this DO!!!!! Unfortunately, Isla was napping during GH today, so that's when we were out in the snow. I must remember to catch up next time (tomorrow??)!

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    3. Dr. N, I read your blog. Wasn't that enough?!?!?! :)

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    4. No, not after that face you made when I mentioned Jane Eyre!

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  13. Dr N, thanks for the inspiration! My thoughts echo many of yours and several of the others. I pulled off #s 1 through 3 of your "Don'ts" (a new recipe for French toast for #3) and almost achieved #4, limiting the work to assembling the list of tasks. I generally followed Mary's advice (substituting pet cats for dogs). I anticipated hearing the N Minnesota wooden home "cracking" sounds (corresponding to Tom's avalanche), but then remembered that it needs to be a good bit colder for that to happen. I did play much more of my beloved Chopin than I have in a long time (think of Mike G's painting). Best of all, I experienced the joy of simply "being" at a time when several of my "obligations" were impossible to "do".

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    1. Good work! (Or, rather, non-work!)

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  14. DO help those who get stuck in the middle of your street making it impossible for plows to come through. This morning it was a car, a SUV, a HandiVan and a minivan (the mailman almost did this afternoon but he went sideways down part of the street and somehow made it out:-) DO make a nice pot of something warm for supper (yes, I did for all you doubters!) The aroma fills the house. Tonight's meal of choice was curry - a little on the spicy side to warm everyone up!. DO offer to make a warm pan of brownies for dessert and if you're lucky, your teenage daughter will offer to do it instead!

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    1. Umm…I need photographic proof that you cooked!

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  15. …And another one tomorrow! Gotta love Duluth, eh?!

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  16. Do go sledding with a child and make certain to plan to spend at least 6 of the daylight hours outside since precious light is scarce now.

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  17. Dr N, glad to find out you love snow days too! ;)
    I have been looking at colleges mostly outside MN, now it seems like I need to get in St. Olaf for another four years of snow days!
    DO get out and shovel(but take a "snowman break" when you are tired)! Keep checking "School Closing" on WDIO every 15 minutes to get the most current update!
    DON'T get too excited shoveling on a snow day. I haven't been shoveling in seven months, and now my back starts to hurt after these many hours. Lucky that I can recover for another snow day!

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  18. Do act exactly as you feel, not as your age suggests you should. For me, this included sledding down the sidewalk outside our house (if you know where I live it makes sense) and finding myself on my back in a snow cave we built sculpting out the roof.

    Do drop your cats in the snow - after carefully assessing if they can handle it. I have a photo shoot to prove ours could. How the heck do I post a picture here?

    Do watch old movies that you usually just think about digging out, especially now that we know we can stay up late!

    Do thank your karma that you live in Minnesota. No sarcasm here at all.

    Joey ordered Sammy's - I hope that still counts:)

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    1. Read the "Snow Day" poem - thanks for the link - and really liked the expression "grandiose silence." Love that, and the crunchy sound of snow under boots. Also learned that "to porpoise" can be a verb - always something new for a non-native speaker:)

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  19. Do experience the full force of the storm. I suggest the edge of the Lake. There's no feeling like knowing you'd be dead in about two minutes if you took all your clothes off.

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    1. Yes. Even the power along the depths of the Chester Creek was strong enough to sense the complete vulnerability of humans vs the absolute strength of nature. Beautiful.

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    2. Oooh, Mr DJ! I have no words for that image!

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    3. DJ, there is definitely something to that humbling experience of the powers of something so much greater than us. I was hoping to feel something similar (although not nearly as extreme as what you suggest :) ) on Wednesday morning. I assumed no one in the neighborhood would be out in the onslaught of winds and snow, so I let my dogs roam about the neighborhood unleashed. Of course, just as I was about to call them back in, a couple came over the hill, my little Boston Terrier came sprinting out from no where and bit her in the calf. She screamed bloody murder, and I was about to drop kick my dog down the avenue. Fortunately, he did not break skin with his mismatched teeth, and a tupperware of sugar cookies assuaged the injury.

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  20. Don't jinx the next Snow Day (it's capitalized because it's a holiday in Duluth). "It's barely raining and we have a Snow Day. Watch, we'll have 8 feet of snow next week and it'll be 50 below but there will still be school." This has the power to speak that scenario into existence.

    Do bundle up and go cover yourself in snow, shortly followed by hot chocolate and snuggling in front of the fireplace :)

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  21. I admit, I certainly thought a big "do" would be about productivity, homework, getting ahead on college essays/scholarships, etc... but I was relieved reading this! Thank you for reminding us of the importance and okay-ness of relaxation on days like the two we've been so fortunate to have.

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  22. Do find balance, by letting yourself get things done that have been nagging at you during busy times, and DO take at least as much time to give in to Mother Nature as the real boss of time by listening to your body (which will naturally tell you to sleep in, eat carbs, snuggle children/animals, and watch Love Actually).
    Do watch Love Actually.
    Don't let your dogs play in the snow as long as they want to. They will get too cold and sustain a paw injury. Dogs need help finding balance during snow days.
    Do something fun and unexpected for someone else. When I was already awake at 5:30 and found out about the snow day, I used my thankful energy to shovel around the cars parked along the curb. The next day, a neighbor had snowplowed my sidewalk, and another neighbor pushed me through the intersection. Mother nature believes in paying it forward (hence snow days). Therefor, also give back to nature (feeding pancakes to birds, leaving corn out for deer, picking garbage up before it hits the lake during the thaw, and use animal-friendly sidewalk salt).
    Do look for flights for winter break to somewhere warm.

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  23. Are you aware of the Russian expression "Pyerviy blin komom"? It means, "The first pancake is always crooked" -- i.e. when you try something new the first time, it probably won't turn out ;)

    Y'all have been snow dancing far too well over there -- we got our first snow in Berlin today. All I can say to that is BOO :(

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    1. Great info, Hilary! Hope you get more snow soon!

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  25. I'm going to show my mom "Don't #4" as soon as I get home today! All I did these past three days was fill out scholarship applications, plow my driveway, and get my neighbor's cars unstuck from the middle of our road!

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  26. What are the "Do's" and "Don'ts of returning to work after a week of snow days?

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    1. Don't get too worked up about anything...it'll all even out in the end. :)

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  27. Check out Stoney Point Surf Spot on Facebook. Our very own Mr. Schonfeld REALLY knows how to spend a snow day!

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  28. It was amazing! Maybe someday soon we'll have a Marshall Surfing Club :)

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  29. I just want to say that Don't miss the chance to have fun in snow! I and my whole host family spent the three snow days in snow, having fun together! We built tracks for sledding, fought with snow balls, built fortress and snowhouses. It's one of my best moments in America.

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