Anticipating yet another snow day last week (#sooverwinter), this one with significant accumulation and super-low temperatures, I was sure we’d lose electricity. In preparation, I mentally checked the cupboard (plenty of canned beans and rice), then made a luxurious list of all the
things I would do if the internet went out.
Baking. Because we cook with gas, I could while away the hours in the kitchen — plus it would help keep the house warm when the heat went out. I would bake all the things I think about but never have time to make: whole-grain breads with nubbly seeds and nuts studding the crusts; pies with different fillings and crusts and crumbles; little loaves of sweet breads I could freeze (when the power came back on) so I’d always have something delicious to offer with tea, like the Southern ladies I imagine opening their doors in the afternoons, greeting their neighbors before settling down with iced tea and a treat on the front porch. I could bake a casserole for dinner, and one to freeze (when the freezer came back on), or put on a pot of stew or soup. Or how about shape cookies to decorate? We could have that cookie decorating party I never got around to organizing at Christmas. We could make snowmen.
Cleaning. I actually love to clean – as long as I have hours to do it. I get intimate with every nook and cranny of my home, and as I dust and scrub I appreciate the texture of the bathroom wall tiles, the grain of the wood floors. I remember that the floors were reclaimed from the house up the street, and think about all the feet that have tread on them before me. I snap the bedsheets before re-making the bed, and remember the fresh puff of air the top sheet would make on my face when I was lying in bed as a little girl, with my mother tucking me in to clean sheets at night. I feel the smooth glide of linseed oil as I polish the end tables, and remember my mother dusting the piano keys, which played a disjointed sort of tune as she swiped. I dust around the books lined up on the shelf, and consider which I’ll read next; rearrange family photos and remember when the children were small. And when I’m finished, there’s not only a clean house, but the contentment of a life reviewed.
Reading. Most of my reading happens in the few minutes before I fall asleep, and the fragmented result is that I am constantly flipping back to try and remember how we got this far. Imagine sitting down for an hour or two, absorbed in a seamless story. Heavenly.
Sewing. The pile of scraps has gotten out of hand. I could create that quilt, those napkins, the mini-purses I’ve been meaning to sew. By hand. How “Little Women” would that be?
Play the piano. Every time I sit down at the keyboard, I feel like I’ve exercised a part of my brain, and my heart, that refreshes me unlike anything else. More of this, please.
Write letters. It’s like having a little visit with the friends and family I write. And what a treat to shuffle through bills and advertisements to find a real letter in the mailbox! Maybe they would write me back.
Plan the garden. The seed catalogues have begun to arrive. We could plot out the whole yard: Tomatoes! Peppers! Berry bushes! And be totally ready for the first planting day of spring. We could even dig out the starter pots and lamps and start seedlings. Maybe we need two snow days. Or three.
Walk in the woods. On a snowy evening. The pillowy quiet of snow falling and the embrace of tall trees erases the frantic pace of everyday life, and slows me down enough to hear the poetry in each moment.
As it turns out, my snow day never came. Kids were home from school, yes, and I heard them playing outside, liberated from routine. I stayed on the internet and worked.
But I’m creating my own snow day. Shutting off the computer and all the pressure that comes with it, excusing myself from all things internet, and enjoying some of these snow day indulgences myself. For a whole day. Because we all need snow days, even when it’s clear.