Saturday, March 3, 2018

I remember snow forts

Donna-Lane wrote a blog post the other day that I just read, today. It's been snowing in Europe and it's been a very cold week. She's been in Geneva for a short stay. We've been home, in Nogent. Actually, Paris just got a light dusting of snow and it's the south of France, and even further south -- all the way to the pyramids in Egypt -- that have gotten heavy snow.
Back to her post. She remembers the fun of snow days, when schools were closed and going outside, building snow forts. That sparked my own memories. First thing was to go over to Patty's house ready to go to the bus stop, if necessary, and listen to the radio announcements of school buses that were cancelled. We had a clump of bushes out front, by the entrance to the driveway to our house. When it snowed, those bushes would form a single mound of snow, but if you knew where to dig through, inside was like a cave. that was our snow fort. We also made snow angels, of course, and snow men. (I guess the generic, politically correct terms would be a snow person, and snow people, now.) When it was cold for a long time, Patty's dad would test the ice on the river with an ax and, if it was deemed thick enough, we'd clear the snow off a patch of ice and go skating.
When we did have to go back to school, I remember that we girls were not allowed to wear pants, so we had leggings and sometimes snow pants that we'd have to take off and hang up with our coats. And we wore snow boots over our shoes, not instead of shoes. 
Once we moved to Philadelphia, snow was not so much fun. There was less of it. No skating. The subway and buses ran, so no snow days off. No next door friends to play with, even if we could have a day off.
A few weeks ago, here, we had a real snowfall, here, and it stayed cold enough to last until the weekend, when the kids came over and got to play with the sled (bought 2 or 3 years ago and never used). The snow was too dry by then to build an upright snow man, so they built a sleeping snow man. It had been a long time since we've had enough snow to do anything like that, but not really exceptional. I remember making a video a few winters ago, when A. was just about 18 months old and experiencing snow for the first time. When my kids were little, it snowed enough for great play in the yard, but not every year.
Paris, France, in general, has become more chaotic during snow, though. There is such panic, pre-snow, that they close the highways, shut down bus service, tell people not to drive, ... (Shutting down bus service and telling people not to drive is counter-productive.) Our newspaper is not delivered. And then, we get maybe 2 or 3 cm! (That's an INCH!) Snowplows are nowhere to be seen. People do not know, or conveniently ignore, that they are supposed to clear the sidewalks in front of their homes. If you don't have a shovel, a broom will usually do fine. That is all the news. Nothing else happens in the world. It's all about the snow and cold - the warning that it's on the way, the pictures of gridlock on the roads when it's come, the meteorologic analysis of why we are having a cold winter, then the recap following the snow.
As an adult, what I love about snow days is the quiet. And the sunshine that follows. Reflecting off the snow, the light is just so much brighter.

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