155. Portrait of a Snow Day

There’s something about Norman Rockwell’s paintings that fascinates me. Like Garrison Keillor’s “News from Lake Wobegon,” on public radio, they seem to make significant statements about the human condition without coming right out and saying them. The statements are cloaked in art, and they appeal to all kinds of people – even some who are not necessarily interested in hearing the significant statements. In fact, maybe I only hear the statements because that’s what I want to hear.
I’m going to try it. Just in this article. In my next article, I’ll go right back to making my blatant statements. But today, since a few inches of snow are blocking my door and rendering the path to my bus stop less navigable than usual, maybe I’ll take the day off and try some art for art’s sake. I imagine that children all over are wondering whether there will be school today. Most of them hope not. Their parents and teachers may or may not share these hopes. As a teacher, I almost always did, even though I knew we’d have to pay back the calendar in June. When my daughters were children, a snow day meant we could build snow people with them, or sled down nearby hills. Later, it meant that I could spend a day doing other things I wanted to do. Especially if the town I lived in was in better shape than the town where I worked. I remember sitting with Katy and Lara at the table and listening to the radio. The towns that were not going to have school were listed alphabetically, which tested our patience, and the superintendent in Wellesley usually called in later than other superintendents, which added to the drama. Over the years, in our various thin-walled apartments, we’d hear shouts of delight from children who went to schools in other towns. And when, at last, we heard “Wellesley” (if we heard it), we did our own shouts and dances. I usually didn’t do any schoolwork on these days. I did things I’d always been meaning to do, but had never gotten around to. The picture we’d been meaning to put up in the living room finally got put up. Maybe we made a cake, pie, or bread. The children got out their things and made delightful messes. I don’t remember to what degree the messes seemed delightful back then, but that doesn’t matter. Nostalgia always enhances images. I’m going to thoroughly enjoy this snow day. Maybe school will be in session. Maybe the walk will be cleared in time for me to get to school, and if so, maybe I’ll go. But for me, retired, every day is a snow day. I can even take a snow day in June if I want. I hope you get to have that
freedom sometimes. I don’t think this article is on a par with Rockwell’s paintings or Keillor’s monologues, but that’s all right. The snow outside is pretty, and I think I’ll take a few minutes to watch people doing what they have to (or want to) do.

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