Volume One Special Coverage: Pulling Together While Staying Apart

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Snow to Anger

fostering a true appreciation for the noble snow day

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Ian Kloster

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OK, so I haven’t been keeping count, but the Eau Claire School district has had roughly 27 snow days this past winter.* Give or take. It seems like even the tiniest hint of snow sets off some sort alarm throughout the district and metal bars come slamming down over the doors and windows. School buses are driven into a secret underground parking garage to stay hidden while the drivers all gather in a back room to fire up an epic game of UNO. Meanwhile, a good three inches of snow gathers over the Chippewa Valley.

Who makes these decisions? Officially, it’s a Committee of Super Weather Sleuths comprised of the school superintendent, the head of maintenance for the district, and the head of student transit – all of whom consult local weather experts. They even drive around town to see what’s what.

Unofficially, it’s some twitchy guy hanging out on the street corner who can feel it in his bones. At least, that’s what grumbling parents seem to think every time they wake up in sudden need of child care or another day home from work.

Well, whoever it is making the current snow day decisions, they aren’t too popular. It’s got to be a tough call to make, so I won’t pretend I could do a better job. But that said, it sure seems like we’ve had way more snow days than we used to – and for less snow.

I can clearly remember heading to school in a snow squall when Old Man Winter himself appeared in an explosion of snowballs – right there in the middle of the street. Tall and slender, he raised up his horrible, icy hand. His voice, as frozen and lonely as the arctic wind, warned us, “Tuuurrrnn baaaack! Or perish.”

I remember going to school through blizzards. I remember having to gather with other kids over the wheel wells of our school bus so we could make it up a hill. I can clearly remember heading to school in a snow squall when Old Man Winter himself appeared in an explosion of snowballs – right there in the middle of the street. Tall and slender, he raised up his horrible, icy hand. His voice, as frozen and lonely as the arctic wind, warned us, “Tuuurrrnn baaaack! Or perish.”

Our bus driver simply shifted into park, got out, and kicked Old Man Winter’s skinny ass six ways to Sunday.

Because you do not mess with the bus driver.

I haven’t done any research on this, but from what I can recall, throughout my entire childhood, I had about three snow days. Yep, three. That’s it. I’m almost pretty positive about this.

And they were glorious.

We went sledding. We had snowball fights. We built towering, multistory snow forts complete with snow furniture, snow appliances, a two-snowmobile snow garage, and a 30-year fixed snow mortgage. We went absolutely nuts.

Kids these days? Eh. Snow days are cool. Whatever.

I know some kids are out there living it up, but I assume the novelty has largely worn off, and most kids just don’t know how good they’ve got it. This cannot stand.

So I want you to find the nearest child and read this next paragraph to him or her in an impressive, booming voice:

Listen now to me now, child! The days in which snow actually looks fun to you may be numbered! For one day you may look upon these soft, flowing drifts and instead of hooting and hollering for joy – as you should – you may simply utter swear words under your breath. Instead of making delightful snow angels, you may find yourself scraping a windshield or spreading salt across your front step. How boring is that? EXTREMELY BORING. Don’t let your Snow Time melt away and drip through those tiny pudgy fingers. Mark my words. The snow day is a gift. Grab it ... hold it tight ... and scream, “Thank you!”

I’m pretty sure yelling this at a kid isn’t illegal, but maybe you should check on that. Either way, it’ll learn ’em, and one day, they’ll thank you for it.

*Four. There have actually been four snow days in the Eau Claire school district so far in the 2012-13 school year. And some late starts.

Lasker Jewelers
Lasker Jewelers

Pulling Together Partners

The following organizations are currently supporting Volume One’s work in the community during the pandemic:

Lasker Jewelers

L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, Eau Claire

Downtown Eau Claire Inc DECI

University of Wisconsin Eau Claire

Pablo Group

Wisconsin Independent Network

Middle West Management

Bon Iver

Royal Credit Union

Silver Spring

Evergreen Surgical

Charter Bank

Chippewa Valley Technical College

The Murty Henriksen Family

The Larry and Marie Past Family

The Dan and Kerry Kincaid Family

Anton and Rae Schilling-Smets

Brady and Jeanne Foust

If your organization is interested in supporting Volume One during this difficult time, nick@volumeone.orgcontact us.