Snow Days (or Lack Thereof)

Over 14 years of school, we had all of two snow days. This was in Toronto, Ontario, where we walked home in drifts up to our pink knees and it was uphill both ways. So, naturally, we laughed appreciably when, in 2018, we were delayed in the return to Scotland by centimetres of snow. We seem to remember Wales was well and properly snowbound, but London was dusted lightly, and still it ground to a halt. It was eleven before we regained St Andrews, and the first time the British Rail service properly betrayed us. The makings of a great and lasting relationship, that.

We’re thinking about all of this in light of today’s tea, dubbed Snow Day. We’re not sure exactly what those taste like, having, as we say, limited experience, but we didn’t reckon on chocolate and mint. More peppermint than chocolate in this case, too. This is odd only inasmuch as a quick look at the ingredients would suggest this should be the other way round. Still, we’d rather the peppermint, and as an uncaffinated cap to the evening, it does what it says on the tin. We like it fine, you understand, but there have been more interesting teas in this Advent Calendar. To us it tastes like any agreeable mint tea.

But in keeping with the spirit if the thing, here’s a poem by Billy Collins. We knew him first through The Writers’ Almanac, whereon was recited his ‘Reasons I Do Not Keep a Gun in the House.’ It still makes us laugh, but as we now live with the Dachshunds, posting it would probably be disloyal. Instead, here’s a theme and variation on the tea. You can tell us if it’s anything like the reality.

Snow Day

Billy Collins

Today we woke up to a revolution of snow,
its white flag waving over everything,
the landscape vanished,
not a single mouse to punctuate the blankness,
and beyond these windows
the government buildings smothered,
schools and libraries buried, the post office lost
under the noiseless drift,
the paths of trains softly blocked,
the world fallen under this falling.
In a while, I will put on some boots
and step out like someone walking in water,
and the dog will porpoise through the drifts,
and I will shake a laden branch
sending a cold shower down on us both.
But for now I am a willing prisoner in this house,
a sympathizer with the anarchic cause of snow.
I will make a pot of tea
and listen to the plastic radio on the counter,
as glad as anyone to hear the news
that the Kiddie Corner School is closed,
the Ding-Dong School, closed.
the All Aboard Children’s School, closed,
the Hi-Ho Nursery School, closed,
along with—some will be delighted to hear—
the Toadstool School, the Little School,
Little Sparrows Nursery School,
Little Stars Pre-School, Peas-and-Carrots Day School
the Tom Thumb Child Center, all closed,
and—clap your hands—the Peanuts Play School.
So this is where the children hide all day,
These are the nests where they letter and draw,
where they put on their bright miniature jackets,
all darting and climbing and sliding,
all but the few girls whispering by the fence.
And now I am listening hard
in the grandiose silence of the snow,
trying to hear what those three girls are plotting,
what riot is afoot,
which small queen is about to be brought down

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