Snow Days in the Happy Valley

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Note 22,  Snow Days

I am writing this just before the snow is about to do what it does. A few flakes have begun to drift down crookedly, almost as if in a dream state. The promise: a huge, blizzard of ’78-style dump. I LOVED the blizzard of ’78, which I spent traipsing through Center City Philadelphia. Cars were stranded and heaped with mounds of snow. My friend lived downtown (as opposed to my neighborhood in the Northwest section of the city)—and we walked and walked and slid and slipped and I think just laughed and probably yelled. It was so very snowy.

I remember the world being padded by snow. I remember how it wasn’t all that cold. I remember the deep grey-purple sky. I remember freedom.

That was freedom.

❥ This storm, this Nemo, I doubt it can make me feel free. There are four kids in this house and I, like so many other member-owners, dutifully trekked (if one can trek by car) to the River Valley Market yesterday late afternoon to make sure we have milk and butter and eggs and cheese and cauliflower. It’s so much more about everyone being safe and warm and happy as opposed to exploration or total abandon these days (as it should be, as I chose, no tiny violin plays here).

In general, I’m not a big snow day fan. I work from home and snow days reinforce the reality that my work has an asterisk next to it; it comes second. I struggle with whether that means my work is real enough. Something more real might not be upended by snow days. I don’t have an office or even a room for work (or a nanny so I could leave during snow days for my office, which I also don’t have). Putting that upended sensation aside, I am sure to finish the tasks at hand (so long as there’s power). If I let myself enjoy the whomever-and-whatever happens, this snow day is sure to be fun.

A side note: that this storm is named Nemo has me seeing animated fish in my mind’s eye and I’ve never seen the movie! I have one idea, which is to find it on the telly and watch it with my little girl.

❥ Another aspect to snow days and big weather emergencies is that they remind us all we are in this life (community, neighborhood) together. Neighbors help neighbors. We find cozy, makeshift activity. Our freedom is discovered through our rootedness to one another. That’s a pretty fantastic find.


Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah is a writer, who lives in Northampton with her husband and four children. She contributes to Preview Massachusetts Magazine, as well as other publications and writes a parenting blog Standing in the Shadows at the Valley Advocate. She moved to the Valley to attend Hampshire College—and found the Valley such a nice place, she stayed!

[Photo credit: (ccl) Sharon Mollerus]

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