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April 20 • 07:03 AM
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Snow days and chocolate chips


January 23, 2019
The sky is thick as buttermilk. This is January, after all. Forecasters predict two to four inches of snowfall tomorrow. I hope so. Our dusty dirt roads need a snow day.

Ah…what history and memories those two words signify. The expression meant exactly that when I was a youngster in the 1950s and '60s. "Snow day" wasn't yet connected to school closings. I can't remember one time Van Dyke Public Schools canceled classes due to a blizzard.

I do remember bitter, windy days ill dressed for walking almost a mile in a snowstorm. My sisters and I wished we were home in our pajamas. We passed winters well enough with occasional absences to nurse earaches and colds—a price we paid for our outstanding public education.

Busses came to our rescue when we graduated to Lincoln High. I seldom hiked the 2.8 miles to and from Lincoln. Yet, with two cars in our household of seven, at times my feet were the most reliable transportation available.

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This exercise trained me for brisk walks across Central Michigan's wide-open campus the winters of 1968 and '69. Young women wore short dresses and skirts in those days, decades before skinny jeans, high boots, and down jackets became popular fashion.

Much later, a mother of three girls, I had no experience with snow days when we enrolled them in a private school. Since we carpooled our children, the principal prided himself in never canceling school for inclement weather.

"Only when the snow covers my bedroom window on the second floor," he said.

Well, that never happened.

This school policy changed for our family when we moved north to Addison Township in 1989. We learned Romeo Public Schools didn't risk bussing students on icy roads. What a relief.

So, what did my daughters do when they at last woke to a cancelled school day?

In snow knee deep, our youngest daughter darted next door and asked if our neighbor's little girls could come out and play. For hours they pretended "Survival & Rescue" along our lot line and hills. They built forts, tunnels, and mountains. They escaped avalanches.

"Think positive and stay alive," Ruthie coached.

Meanwhile, her older sister chose to sleep in and study the morning away. Eventually, Kelly pulled on her ski clothes and joined the fun outdoors.

And what did I do on our first snow day?

I opened the door and listened to the laughter of fort builders and champions over the elements—baked chocolate chip cookies and stirred hot cocoa for my courageous make-believers. I invited their joy and imagination inside while I may, warmed them with the scent and flavor of chocolate.

Consequently, Dear Reader, there's a bag of Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips in my kitchen's Lazy Susan, reserved to celebrate bygone times of play, cookies, and hot cocoa.

If the weathermen are incorrect, I'll pretend there's a blizzard outside and bake a batch of cookies regardless. Either way, my retired husband will appreciate my tribute to another "snow day."

Email Iris at

irisleeu@sbcglobal.net.

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