Children of my acquaintance were beside themselves with joy on Friday when school was cancelled due to snow. They were thinking: snowmen, snowballs, hot chocolate, more time on the Xbox – joy! Their parents were thinking: impassable roads, freezing temperatures, child-care crisis – despair!
Once I got past the cold, the multiple layers, the missing gloves, I stopped for a second to actually look at the familiar landscape, now strangely white and silent. Something childlike stirred inside me. I wanted to make the first footprints in the virgin snow. I wanted to take photos of the intricate ice patterns on the car windscreen. I wanted to watch my breath steaming out on the freezing air. For just a day, nature, briefly but decisively, took over. We couldn’t just pop out in the car. We couldn’t get to school. We couldn’t make it to work. We had to stop.
Was this a massive pain in the neck? I guess it depends what you had to do that day. If the snow prevented you getting to an interview, a date or a hospital appointment, then yes, it was a curse. But maybe it slowed you down. Maybe it gave you unanticipated time with family or friends. Maybe it confronted you with the ridiculous beauty of nature which keeps on being beautiful even when our lives are anything but.
I’m not wishing for a snow day every day. But I’m wondering if the snow’s stillness, the way it blankets and enfolds us, is a kind of blessing.