Snow Daze

I may be fresh off the heels of buying a springtime plane ticket to sunny Los Angeles, but in a stroke of irony, the powers that be have decided to turn my Southern state into a snow globe.

In the end, though, this is not a particularly cruel twist of fate. In fact, it only feels like my old Chicago home when the inclement weather starts a-blowin’. After this particular winter, I’m convinced that the gods have tried to ease me into my starter year in Virginia by unleashing the flurries—just in time for Christmas, but not stopping there. Case in point: Snowpocalyse 2009, also known as That Time The Federal Government Shut Down, when my town drowned in 18 inches of snow; this past weekend, when the sky surprised us with half a foot of powder; tonight, as we’re in the midst of a blanketing of three to six inches; and this weekend, which will bring another major winter storm.

There is an upside to living in a place where big snow is a novelty: unprepared cities have no choice but to declare snow days for all. Back in Illinois, I can’t remember ever having one; super-efficient plows cleared the roads before schoolchildren could blink the sleep out of their eyes. But this winter, I’ve had a few opportunities to get used to days off, and here’s how I recommend making the most of them.

1. Take a walk. Put down your car keys and head out on foot. This weekend, I found no simpler pleasure than swaddling myself in layers and strolling through falling flakes to a nearby restaurant. The strange situation elicits smiles from passersby on the sidewalk, and waiters are glad for company in their eerily quiet workplaces. Even walking to the grocery store can feel like playtime when you’re romping through snowdrifts on the way.

2. Get creative. During the gigantic snowstorm in December, shovels and salt were conspicuously absent from store shelves. So we bought a wide metal dustpan with a looped handle, slung it over the long, sturdy handle of a garden hoe, and duct-taped everything together to form a makeshift shovel. It was the only reason I made it out of my snowed-in parking lot in time for the workweek. But more than that, it was a point of MacGyver-ish pride. Walking back from Home Depot, shovel-like implement in hand, people stopped us on the street to congratulate our ingenuity! It made the subsequent relaxation feel deserved, and you can bet I continued congratulating myself over hot cider.

3. Throw open the blinds. Even if you don’t leave the house, remember to look outside once in awhile. The snow is the reason that your midafternoon nap and mug of cocoa are so delicious.

I can assure you that I’ll be taking my own advice this weekend as another storm comes upon us! Happy February, everyone.