Fine snow sifts down like dust over the frozen landscape. After a winter of brown, we are finally going to get some white. I fill my coffee cup with another pour of hot, bitter, darkness, and settle in. These are the moments to sit still, and let the memories rise to the surface like curious fish inspecting the hole in the ice. Close my eyes and they flicker like old home movies in my mind.
I can feel the heat from the radiators against my legs as I lean against them to look out the window at the falling snow. The drafty old windows in our classroom seemed like little more than paper when the wind gusted. In those moments before class began for the day, we could look out at the snow and dream of being sent home early. There was never any greater joy in the life of a 4th grader than being released early from school. It was like a last minute pardon from the governor.
In those pre serial killer days they actually let children walk home from school. And being released into a wonderland of white powder was a feeling beyond compare. All up and down the length of Summit Street the walkers would be running, pushing, sliding through the ankle deep snow, the buckles of our overshoes tinkling like bells. It was the middle of the day, but the city seemed deserted.
Wool hats pulled down over our ears, scarves wrapped tight around our neck, we squinted into the wind, and felt the sting of the snow against our cheeks. It may only have been a mile walk, but in my mind I felt like an arctic explorer. When we reached the corner of North Street I said goodbye to Jimmy and Chris, and turned west for home.
Trudging past Platten’s Deli, I climbed the hill to the Blind School, and crossed the open wind swept expanse of Centennial Park. When the storm stopped we would be back pulling our sleds up the hill, but for now the park was empty, except for my dark silhouette, slowly making my way down the unplowed path.
For one day, all responsibilities were put on hold, and we were free to do nothing but play. In my mind I ran through the things I wanted to do when I got home; put on snow pants, and build a fort in the front yard; dig tunnels in the snow banks until my gloves were soaked through and I lost all sense of feeling my fingers. There was so much to accomplish. How long would the storm last? Would they cancel school tomorrow too?
Home was just around the corner. The snow quietly piling deeper in the driveway, the front steps needing to be shoveled. No sign of siblings, or parents. Only Granny inside the house, crocheting in her chair as she watched her soaps. I climbed the back porch steps, and pulled open the creaky storm door, letting it bang shut behind me. Hanging up my coat in the closet, I stepped into the kitchen, and felt the flush of warmth against my face. Calling out at the top of my voice, I let the world know.