Last Friday, the Crossroads braced for a potential winter storm. While some sleet and freezing rain did fall and stick to trees, cars, and gutters, children were disappointed that a fluffy blanket of snow did not cover lawns and streets.
I was kind of disappointed as well not just because my dogs love playing in the snow but because a snow day always brings back such fond memories for me.
My family was the best at snow days. As soon as the faintest light appeared in the east, my sisters and I would have our noses pressed against the window glass – fogging up the panes with excited breath. Then we would run downstairs to watch school closings on television.
When our school was named, we would cheer with excitement and run to change into our coats and mittens. We knew Granddaddy would be there soon to pick us up.
Granddaddy was the most fun on snow days. He would watch for school closings, too, and as soon as he knew we were free, he would drive around Eudora picking up grandchildren to play with him.
Of course, Granddaddy wasn’t a very good driver on a warm, sunny day, so the snow turned him into a maniac. Once he sideswiped what he thought was a “snow bank” and kept on driving like nothing had ever happened. We found out later that the “snow bank” was actually a yellow VW Bug that was wearing a snow coat.
Throughout the year, Granddaddy planned for snow days. He built a sled that could be pulled by a horse. It was just a wood platform, and it took several horses to make it move (it weighed a ton!). Besides, he didn’t put on those metal runners that make sleds, well, sled. The horses just kind of dragged the thing behind them up and down the hills – grandkids flying off with each bump.
We used to have so much fun sledding. There were these plastic disk sleds that would spin as they traveled down the hill. We felt like superheroes until we got to the bottom and threw up. But once our stomachs were settled, we were trudging back up the hill for another turn.
After about an hour, we discovered we were cold and hungry, and made our way to Aunt Gaye Gaye’s house for snacks. She would make us homemade cocoa (the kind you make with brown box Hershey’s Cocoa) and let us warm up. Eventually, we would talk her into making us snow cream – of course, that was always a secret from Momma and Daddy.
For those of you who are unaware of the culinary delight of snow cream, it is just a bowl of undisturbed snow (always from the top of a car or picnic table to avoid critter infestation) covered in Eagle Brand Milk. So in short, we ate slushy Eagle Brand Milk. We were always so wired when we got home; I am surprised my parents never figured out what Gaye Gaye was feeding us.
Daddy wasn’t a big fan of snow days (workaholic), but he did love to go sledding. After many failed attempts to drive to work – well, after he sunk all of our cars in the neighbor’s yard – he would give in to the magic that is snow day. He always found ingenious ideas to make sledding more effective.
His best idea to date was to coat the bottom of the sled with non-stick cooking spray. Very Clark-Griswald-like, the sled would fly at mach speed. We had to abandon the enhanced sled after a neighbor kid went airborne and landed in the lake. Daddy ended up bribing him not to tell his very overprotective mother.
There were always the little accidents on snow days (we were Sextons and it was our destiny.)
My sister Deana got stuck in the middle of a frozen pond once after the sled got off track.
Thankfully she just sat there very nonchalant-like as the ice around her was cracking. Daddy had to throw a rope out to her and drag her in (then he had the breakdown he deserved).
I had my own frozen pond experience. My cousins and I were riding horses in the pasture when we noticed the enchanted pond (that is what I referred to it as, but no one else thought it had any magical powers) had frozen over. My pony, Tiny Boot, got spooked and threw me into that pond. (I told you it was enchanted.)
Scared Momma and Daddy would be angry, my cousins took me to Gaye Gaye’s house to dry my clothes. I spent the rest of that snow day eating homemade fudge wrapped in an afghan. (Gaye Gaye always did like me best.)
As adults, snow days are always a hassle. We have to figure out how to get to work and who will watch the kids when the school closes. It is just one more thing to reaffirm that I am now an adult – like asking Santa Claus for a washing machine.