Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Snow Day!

I was thinking it might never happen.

All my kids and their friends have ever wanted is a snow day -- a day off from school because there's just too much snow. But snow days don't seem to happen in Durango, snow or not. Oh, we get delayed openings and early releases, and we've had days that we ourselves have kept the kids home from school on our own because of snow -- because sometimes powder days are just more important than another day in the Big Box of School.

But not since my kids have been in school -- and they're now in high school and middle school -- have they heard those blessed and magical childhood words: snow day! While other area schools seem to have the wherewithal to occasionally let kids stay home for inclement weather, the Durango school district seems to be a mission to keep the children indoors as much as humanly -- and sometimes inhumanly -- possible. So it's been more than then years since Durango kids have been given that dispensation from the authorities -- and my kids have never experienced it.

But yesterday it came. Heavy overnight snowfall and a winter storm warning finally broke the resolve of the stalwart ramparts of the most strident District 9R administrators, and kids all over town were at last able to sing together those elusive words: Snow Day!

We made the best of it. My wife works at the high school, and on Mondays I teach at Fort Lewis College -- which also canceled classes, for the first time since 1993 (as near as I can remember) -- so we, too, were set free. So we grabbed our ski gear and headed up to Purgatory to cash in our Get Out of Jail Free cards. We were greeted with nearly two feet of fresh snow -- and most of the rest of Durango, it seemed. And everyone else, it also seemed, was every bit as relieved and joyous as our little clan of snow-dayers.

What a day. We passed the day skiing hard, savoring the deep winter snowfall, and enjoying the company of those others up there with us -- running into many people we know (lots of school and college folks, of course), crossing paths with others whose paths we hadn't crossed in a while, and meeting still more whose paths we'd never encountered. Everybody was grinning, icicles hanging from beards and mustaches and exposed locks of hair. Hoots came from the woods along the steep runs, and were echoed by calls and cheers from chairlifts. Everybody arrived at the bottom of the lifts covered with snow, either freshly fallen or from falling in the freshy.

And the kids had similar days, even though they, of course, were off their own much of the time. They, too, ran into friends -- and teachers -- and met some new ones. They, too, came back with stories to share of the epic day on their home mountain. And they, too, were all grins all day -- on this day that they and their friends already call one of the best ever.

How can it not be? A powder day is always grand, for sure. But a powder day and a snow day -- that is something special! A free day -- like a bonus day just tacked onto life. And for a kid, that snow day goes beyond just fun -- it's mythic. It's one of the days you talk about for the rest of your life. What will they remember more on our death bed: that quiz they took, that chapter they read, that test they studied for? Or that snow day ...

Remember that, please, school administrators: You have a huge impact on our kids lives, and it's a big responsibility. We appreciate your efforts to prepare our kids for their lives to come. But don't neglect their lives now. Please remember that there's more to being a kid than school, than getting in the classroom hours, than the fricken CSAPs, for gawdsakes!

Please don't be afraid to every now and then let it all go, so the kids can remember that they're still kids. Every now and then please be sure to give them a snow day.

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