Al Batt: There’s no day like a snow day like no day I know

Published 10:11 pm Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt


The weather outside was frightful, but getting out of school would be delightful.

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I’d done my homework, repeating “Please” incessantly.

According to radio reports, the conditions of the roads had moved from annoying to aggravating to dangerous.

It was colder than a snowman’s underwear. The wind was so strong, it had blown in a couple of days from next week. I can’t prove it, but I believe I saw glimpses of the next winter in its stormy gusts.

The radio became my social hub. My ears weren’t big enough to hear everything I wanted to hear on the airwaves. I was listening for school closings, the silver lining in winter’s dark clouds. I loved snow days. They were glorious occasions of freedom meant to be relished.

I was a charter member of the Snow Day Today Club. The slightest possibility of a snow day tugged at my heartstrings, but I was troubled by doubts as I’d suffered disappointment. No school had turned into school before.

I enjoyed winter. I didn’t need any instructional videos on how to make the best of a snow day. Be still my heart, there were snowmen, snowball fights, snow forts, sledding and ice skating.

As a convicted nostalgist, I don’t see as many snowmen as I used to. I see them, but it appears their population is declining. I hope that’s not true, and I promise to look harder. I definitely see fewer snow forts. Maybe it’s the result of climate change.

There was a fly in the frozen ointment. The announcer gave the long list of school closings in alphabetical order. What a dastardly deed. My school was New Richland-Hartland. N wasn’t that close to the beginning of the alphabet. It wasn’t nearly as close as H was, yet another reason the school should have been named Hartland-New Richland.

I wished I had the handy, albeit minor, superpower of being able to move my school to the top of the list of closings. I wished I attended a school named AARRGGHH. But I didn’t. Aarrgghh!!

A wise man told me that to seek was as important as to find, but I wasn’t listening. I was listening to a radio guy doing advertisements for a grocery store’s wide selection of Jell-O flavors and a hatchery reminding everyone to order baby chicks now, when the announcer should have been rattling off schools.

I admit to having an ulterior motive. In expectation of the upcoming blizzard, I’d decided not to study for a big test. What was the point? There would be no school. If I studied, I’d have forgotten what I’d learned by the time I’d gone back to school.

I’d drawn a line in the snow, which meant I wasn’t going to the end of our drive and wait for that confounded school bus.

I heard the kitchen clock ticking as the radio voice droned on and on about a hardware store having the best oil ever. Waiting for him to say the things I needed to hear was like eating tomato soup with a fork.

After several eternities had passed, the slow-talking announcer said, “New Richland-Hartland Schools will be closed today.”

My smile showed more teeth than three saw blades. If I could have left a “like” on the radio, I would have.

Some places get a little cold. We get the remainder of their fair share. Temperature is just a matter of degrees. We tough it out. We cover our bare skin and our coughs. We try to take our mind off the weather by contemplating NFL playoff scenarios. If we don’t like wearing long pants, we head south.

Warm and sunny attitudes go only so far, so we tinker with winter. We don clothing with central heating and dash through the snow on snowshoes, snow machines and 4WD contraptions. We develop a tolerance for winter that’s thicker than the ice during an ice fishing contest.

It’s not a sour life, but we grow weary of the winter wonderland. It’s not the cold or the wind or the snow or the ice — wait a minute. Yes, it’s all of those things. Someone asked me what I do all winter. I stay busy. My work has its snow days. I should build a snowman to cheer me when that occurs.

I try to squeeze a bit of spring out of winter as a miser squeezes “uncle” out of Tom Jefferson on a nickel.

When winter is up to snow good and you’re having snowflakes for breakfast, it’s snow wonder you love Minnesota.

Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Saturday.