Winter in Alaska — it’s supposed to be this relaxing time to curl up in your cabin and take up quilting or write the Great American Novel. Not in my reality. I feel like I work from sunup to sundown, and I don’t get anything done.
Oh yeah, we only get eight hours of daylight these days.
Still, every time I turn around, there’s more snow to shovel. This is the chore that never ends — it’s worse than laundry.
Yesterday it was a three-foot wide berm that I had to break up with a spade before I could budge it. Today it was six inches of slush covering the driveway, with every shovel load weighed down by at least a hundred pounds of water. Each of these mammoth shovel loads had to be catapulted over a wall of snow built up over the past few days of unrelenting snowfall. My whole body aches by the end of the day.
The sad part is, my son is trying to earn money for a summer trip, so he’s happy to do the shoveling. Too bad for me that I’m the first one to get home in the afternoon, after the plow has thoughtfully deposited a mountain of snow on the bottom of the driveway.
I shouldn’t complain. We’ve gotten a mere four feet of snow in January, compared to the 18 feet that buried Cordova early in the month. Still, four feet makes a hefty pile of snow to fling about. All that snow, and not even one snow day.
Every night the kids snuggle into their beds while visions of snow days dance in their heads. They check the weather and speculate: “Four to eight inches forecast overnight — maybe there won’t be any school tomorrow,” or “Do I really need to study for that test?”
Even I have caught the snow day bug. When that alarm rings in the middle of the night masquerading as morning, well before the sun even comes up, I lay in bed thinking, “Maybe it’s finally a snow day today, and I won’t have to get up.” Good way to make the whole family late on a school day that turns out — surprise! — not to be a snow day.
Problem is, we already had a snow day, way back in November, when the snowfall measured a mere eight inches or so.
We got up as usual, rushed outside to clear the driveway, only to learn halfway through the chore that we could have stayed snug in our beds. Too bad they couldn’t let us know ahead of time. The best part about not having to go to school is, of course, sleeping in.
I guess going back to bed is the next best thing.
We sure made the most of that lovely snow day. But it set up unrealistic expectations all across the city. Now, every time we get eight inches of snow at one time, we feel like we deserve a snow day.
Of course, the best snow days are the unexpected ones, like that random day of freedom in November.
I remember the one time school was cancelled for snow when I was growing up. It was my freshman year in high school. It was awesome!
No eight inches of snow there — we had flurries in the air, and the water in my backyard birdbath was frozen over. The power companies couldn’t handle the unprecedented cold, so the city closed all the schools to lighten their load. As I recall, we were out of school for at least two days. It was January of ’77, the last time it snowed in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Think of us deprived Floridians who had never seen snow — we thought we’d died and gone to Alaska. I remember riding my bike to swim practice (in an outdoor pool) through the swirling snowflakes. Thankfully, we didn’t swim that day. I think that was the best snow day ever.
So it’s raining tonight.
Maybe the rain will freeze and make the sidewalks so slick that they’ll have to close the schools tomorrow.
Maybe I’ll finally get the chance to sleep in.
Or maybe I’m fooling myself.