Blizzard cometh {Day 6}

The streets are beginning to look like they’re paved again. Slushy pockets of stubborn snow are filthy brown reminders of the weekend weather system that shut us down. The sidewalks, poorly shoveled two days ago, are finally open passages wide enough to walk through. It’s amazing what a little sunshine can do. 

Nevertheless, the county texted that we’d not be returning to work or school this week. I’m counting it a blessing because, though I’m feeling a little confined in my home, I didn’t have the needed money to cover day care. Payday is days away and the school won’t take an “I owe you,” no matter how trustworthy or social I am.

The kids and I found our escape outside. We discovered the owner of the discarded sled had not returned to claim it. And though not as slick and compacted as it was a day or so ago, the snow track beckoned. We simply could not resist responding.

Ya – dubbed TACO by his big sister – preferred to speed his slide by folding up the sled and reclining.  He definitely traveled further and faster than the girls.

Ri tried her hand at riding,  feeling confident as she was cheered along the track. Ya and Chi spotted her all the way down, quickly clutching her when the sled gained too much momentum,  or she leaned over zealously to one side. She bumped off the disc a few times, whimpering to quell sibling simpathy (and then dramatically cutting short her cries with a flippant hand and a giggle). She scrunched her nose, pursed her lips, pointed, commanded, and pretended to stifle laughs with her tiny hands covering her mouth.

And my lovely Chi, in her carefully coordinated outfit, dangling earrings, and burgundy glossed lips, was ready for… the public. She spent much of her slide without the sled, quickly dampening her jeans and chilling her behind into numbness. But I saw her let loose. She dropped the teen pretentiousness and enjoyed the fleeting snow. She laughed. She cheered. She protected. She challenged. She determined – with a clenching of bared teeth and piercing gaze – to sled the furthest. She landed in the plant stalks and puddles with gusto.

Then, as I squatted to find the perfect angle for my shots, I pulled a muscle when my leg slid away from me on slick snow. I fought to jump away from careening kids as the drew quicker to me than I anticipated. And I remembered the sneakers I’d chosen had air holes that welcomed wet and cold.

These unscheduled days together are the ones I’ll cherish.

Blizzard cometh {Day 2}

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Blizzard cometh {Day 1}

IMG7234 copyThe flakes began Wednesday night, not Friday as they’d said.  I should’ve known when they started canceling evening events, but I’d been periodically checking the weather forecast through out the day.
My colleague said she’d never heard of a “blizzard watch,” though I’m certain there’d been others before now.  And when the fire alarm sent us outside on drill in the 30 degree temperature,  it smelled like snow.  The ominous clear grey skies were increasing the student buzz about days off. We weren’t expecting to be off on Thursday,  but I’d prayed they wouldn’t force us into school with predicted snowfall on Friday.
The well stocked shelves of the grocery store belied the fervor of scared shoppers stocking up for the unknown. On Wednesday afternoon, their fears weren’t yet real.  Friday morning, though, after hundreds of accidents and disabled vehicles,  lengthened commutes and closed public transit, the store’s meager remnants were hardly beckoning.  The bread, milk, and meat isles were sparse.
IMG7236 copy IMG7237 copy IMG7274 copy IMG7286 copy  Then the real snow began. It started with non-threatening flurries and maintained the slow decent for hours. The white collected, stuck to the chilled pavement, built in increments. By 1:30, it increased and the winds created swirling tornadoes of snow as our neighborhood began to disappear.
At 5, I realized we’d not ventured out. Piling on layers of clothes, the kids and I trekked into the blinding elements. Ri didn’t remember a snow like this. Ya was surprised by the icy collection of flakes mingling with the fluffy, good for nothing build up. This was not snowball worthy.

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And my newly crowned teen found restraint, showing her maturity. I don’t know how much longer she’ll be a kid. That carefree exploring of youth is quickly ending. Now, it’s Ri who picks up boulders of ice to hurl at me. It’s she who laughs at the frenzied clouds disrupted from descent by heavy gusts, at the collection of snow on her lashes. IMG7339 copy

IMG7291 copyBut Chi delights in being Ri’s playmate. She lets go of appearances to give baby sister experience. Ri runs, Chi chases. Ri circles back, running right to her would-be capture. And they laugh as she’s swept up into an embrace and swung around and around.IMG7347 copy
Meanwhile, Ya perfects snow angels on the impassable street. He samples snow. And he sits in shock when Ri tosses loose snow at him, somehow covering half his face. IMG7308 copy

New year, same school

Welcome back hardly seems like the appropriate greeting at 7 am as my bleary eyed students slowly trudge into class. Some have changed drastically since last I saw them – new hair, new body modifications, new clothes. Others are the same high schoolers I said farewell to in December.
Somehow, though, those two weeks seem like a lifetime ago. Much has changed for me. It’s not my outlook, and no, I didn’t make any new resolutions. But something is different.
I’ve hundreds of papers to grade. I don’t feel pressed to get to them, though I need to complete the task this week. We’ve just concluded our first novel and the process of studying literature has drained me. I often feel like I’m the only one vested in the story. Although this year, there was one student who delved deeply into the book and pushed ahead of the class. He’d come in every period with some new critique, discovery, or observation about the characters and their lives. It was refreshing to discuss the book instead of trying to explain it. But he’s the only one.
Tomorrow, I hope, I’ll feel refreshed, recharged. I’ve got to liven up my work. I’ve got to stay on top of the grades.

Failure to concede

I’m racking my mind trying to figure out what could’ve made this morning different.

It was such a simple trip — picking up a few non perishables for our long awaited getaway.  Ya tagged along, pointing at items we should get because they were “just what Dad gives me,” or were favorites we never indulge in.  I’d heard so many “Mo-ommmm,” in that elongated whine of impatience and insistence that I almost considered giving in to the numerous requests for that which we didn’t need.

We packed our few items into the two 5 cent bags and rolled our cart into the lot. The rain was coming down hard. A truck driving way too fast elected not to yield to the pedestrian cross walk. I thought then what’s the rush?

Belted in, we started around the corner towards a crowded Wawa parking lot. I avoided the call of my soft preztel, and navigated toward the red light. A Cadillac jumped out in front of me insisting he be first in line for the green.  I let him have it.

It dawned on me that I forgot the gloves hubs asked me to pick up. I considered returning to the store, but decided against it.

Then, when the light permitted us, we followed the hurried Caddy into the intersection. But a blue car traveling way too fast toward her red light, careened into us. In that ultra slow time between impact and realization of our predicament,  I contemplated damage. Ya was ok. The car, though it squealed in protest, could be driven forward and out of traffic.  The impatient Caddy stopped, came to check on me, offered himself as a witness.

She came reluctantly over. An older woman with bronzed skin and long hair. “I’m sorry. My mind’s going in so many directions. I didn’t mean for anyone to get hurt. It’s my fault.”  In that awkward apology, I fought to contain myself. My perishable groceries (good sale on nearly expired meats) sat spoiling in the trunk. My new car now had a mark on its record. My son, in his trauma, sat questioning everything from the back seat. My left side seared, then numbed.  I wondered how long it’d take for my husband to arrive, for the police and ambulance to reach us. Would I need to take it?

In the lobby of the ER, dad sat waiting. He watched as patients signed in and were taken back. Time ticked by and no one called for me. An oversight, they said. The EMT didn’t notify the desk I was there. The nurse desk had my paperwork, though. Hours later, and after much complaint to the “patient advocate,” we’re in a room. More waiting. My arm is squeezed. My hand, poked. Yes, it hurts. Xrays (too much metal on your person, Mrs. Smith). Pills I cannot swallow. I gag as dad grimaces about my hangup.

Diagnosis?  Muscle trauma. It’ll hurt -worse tomorrow,  and continuing for several days more.

Water

She told.

Without even being cornered, she told him the exact present he so desires is coming in triplicate.  And as he only asked for one major item, it’s obvious any conversation about it would reveal the gift.

She told explicity. She even named the gifters.

All I could say was, “water,” as she tried to fix her devulgement with nonsense items she claimed he’d also get.  But the boy is no simpleton.

“Laura, you can’t hold water. You let it spill all over the floor,” he told her.

And he should know, when I shared the expression with him, he tried to demonstrate that he could hold water, literally. But the cupped hands couldn’t stop the slow and steady drip of liquid through his clenched fingers. He understood the metaphor. Water, like secrets, is hard to hold onto without the proper vessel.

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