I had a snow day last week. Well, technically I had an ice day. I think that qualifies as a “snow day” in spirit: That is to say, the weather prevented me from leaving the house and going about my normal business.

When I was a kid, snow days were these magical little gifts from the universe. There was always a Christmas Eve-esque sense of anticipation the night before: Maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t. And then Mom would tiptoe into our rooms in the morning and whisper that it was a snow day, so we didn’t have to get up. And when we did get up, we put on our snow pants and made terrible lumpy snowmen and ran around catching snowflakes on our tongues (the trick is to hold your breath).

They were family days, because Dad was a teacher, and the only people who love snow days more than students are teachers. Even in high school, when Dad started making us shovel the driveway (to build character, allegedly) on snow days, they were special. And when we were finally too cold to stay outside, we would come in and line up our boots in front of the fireplace and watch a movie.

Of course, back in those days before the internet came to your bedside table through your cellphone, one of my parents (usually Mom) had to get up at 5 in the morning, turn on the TV and radio and wait for our school’s name to scroll by in the weather closings crawl at the bottom of the screen. And we went to St. Patrick’s School, so it was a long wait.

Now, of course, as an adult with a job, I’ve found the concept of a snow day to be basically non-existent. You still have to get up and shovel out the car and if you’re anything like me, you’ll end up getting snow inside your boots no matter how careful you are. Most workplaces do not close on account of bad road conditions, inclement weather or indeed anything less than a complete loss of power. As an individual employee, you might be able to choose to call out, but unless you have flexible paid time off available, you won’t get paid. I’ve made that choice several times: Risk your neck, or risk your check? If it’s just snow, usually I choose to risk my neck, but not when there’s ice in the forecast. Fortunately, I have understanding supervisors. But deciding whether or not to call a snow day for yourself feels like a big responsibility, one that I’m definitely not licensed or certified for. Turns out there’s no such thing as a “real adult” – just a bunch of large kids trying to make wise decisions about the weather.

The dogs, though – the dogs stay the same. They bring out the best in snow days, and they demonstrate the sheer, unbridled joy of youth that dulls in most of us as we age and take on more responsibilities and learn more about the world. Not dogs.

Dogs have very little concept of “past” and “future”; they know only the here and now. When I was a kid, our dog was Jake; he was a mutt who was clearly half Newfoundland, so the snow was his natural habitat. Unlike us kids, who had to bundle up, he had a thick double coat, which he liked to absolutely cover in snow when he rolled around in it. He would try to catch snowballs we threw at him. He wasn’t very good at that. Nor was he very good at playing “sled dog.” But despite his notable lack of brainpower, he was a pretty good baby sitter.

Janey has settled into the snow surprisingly well for a dog from urban Mexico. She and I like to walk around the back fields, where she can zoom in enormous circles and then settle down to the important business of sniffing out old field mice nests. Snow just adds another fun layer to dig through, and she’s in favor of anything that enhances the digging experience. I felt a little bad for laughing at her when she did a front flip after one paw went through the ice as she was doing her usual acceleration, but she wasn’t injured and it was legitimately hilarious.

She hasn’t figured out why the ground is so much more slippery than usual, but it shouldn’t be long before the ice crust is covered in fluffier snow, which should provide all of us with a little more traction.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:
[email protected]
Twitter: @mainemillennial

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