Patient zero was the youngest. Was it the goldfish (cracker) she ate off the ground in the grocery store parking lot? Or was it from her classmate, whose snot she carried away on her brow after a farewell hug? No telling. Part and parcel to parenting are the cool sick months when viruses thrive in the orifices of our kids.
Laundry all night, rough sleep and the morning surprised with a fresh blanket of puffy snow. A snow day is a rarity this far south in the Appalachians and schools don’t hesitate to close. The allure of the snow is irresistible to children, even those who had just been through the wringer of twisted stomachs. When can we go out to the garden?
First, we bake. The oven must be turned on in the first few hours of a snow day - It’s probably a rule. Silent night, Holy night, turned up real loud. Kneading dough in snow hats, eating flour off the floor, pretzels for the Christmas tree to celebrate Hungarian roots, all with the confidence that 425 degrees for 13 minutes will kill our microscopic nemesis.
They rally. The discomfort of the wee hours fades and it’s imperative that we get outside, now. We bundle and the first few crunchy steps, shin deep into the snow, are nothing short of magic. The sounds and smells of a snow day summon deep and permanent memories from childhood. Their joy is understandable as they frolic. I feel it too.
The garden is peaceful. Garlic and chard tops peek through the snow and the remaining flower blossoms wear puffy coats. Pines gently sway, occasionally dropping a sparkling mist of cold crystals on our heads. The rabbits must have visited the lettuce early and their tracks and scat show the way to their den. Gloves are lost, hats come off and boots get filled with snow. Red cheeks and whoops of genuine glee echo through the neighborhood. It’s never easy making the case to go in.
Did you ever get the feeling from your parents that snow days are tons of work? I didn’t, but they are. The laundry, drips on the floor and the aching of little hands that warm too quickly all require attention. At bay for the hours of fun, the bug returns to bellies in the slow afternoon hours. A group nap, more laundry and cuddles finish the off day.
Late at night, everyone is asleep and papa gets a walk up to the lake. The rarity of a snow day means it must be cherished together, and also alone. It’s never easy pulling it all together for them but these memories will be important to them. I just know it.