Greetings from the rural lands of northern Illinois! We’re getting that big snow that the weather people and everyone else have been talking about for the past few days, and—for once—they weren’t wrong. Safe and dry here in my work room, warmed by the glow of my MacBook screen and keyboard and a tall hot mug of strong coffee nearby, I look out on a world of white. As I tend to do at times such as these, I harken back to Jack London’s classic phrase, The white silence, and watch it come down fast and furious and beautiful.
Funny thing, though, earlier, as the wife was hurriedly getting ready to head off to her job an hour’s drive away—not long after this whole storm was getting cranked up—I was making the bed (one of my grueling daily chores!) and had the radio tuned in to the news and listening to the announcer read off a list of school closings. It quickly jolted me back to all those winter mornings as a kid, and later as a teacher, when there was a storm impending or already raging, and I’d snap wide awake, hoping that my school would be included on the list. Sometimes, when the weather gods were smiling on me, my school would, indeed, be included. More often than not, though, the “storm of the century” that was supposed to hit us somehow moved off in another direction, missing us altogether, or just amounting to something less than original forecasts predicted.
For whatever reasons, I’ve always loved snowstorms, especially when I have nowhere to go or nothing that I absolutely have to get done. And even though it’s ridiculous, when the predicted storm fails to materialize, for whatever reason, I find myself actually getting ticked-off at the professional weather “experts” who always get us excited and expectant for the thing!
I’ve always considered snow days to be those perfect occasions to get caught up on overdue tasks (besides the common routines around the house) such as getting lost in a book or pounding out those thousand words to move the limping novel along just a bit more. These are perfect days for doing all of those little things that we’re always putting aside “until later” and never really having much eagerness to actually get to them. However, cleaning out that desk drawer now doesn’t seem like such a waste of time. Getting the books straightened on the bookshelves also seems to get accomplished. Somehow, the little things that get done feel like major things at the end of the day.
And when the storm eventually peters out and stops altogether, there’s a good feeling that some important “stuff” got done inside, out of the snow and the beauty of the “white silence.” These days don’t come along too often anymore, but when they do, those old habits seem to die hard. What better time to get back to reading that book, or working on the novel, or—most definitely—enjoying another cup of that strong, hot coffee?…MLA