Sunday, 20 January 2013

The Perfect Snow Day


Thursday 17th January

All week I'd read the weather report. It changed on a daily basis from light snow to moderate snow, from be aware to be prepared.

Monday had bought us a flurry of snow that sadly retreated by mid morning. The promise of a hallowed snow day was hastily vanquished by the midday sun which almost seemed to taunt our grey building somehow.

I continued with the day to day ridiculousness of my usual job throughout the week but secretly hoped that the snow that we'd been promised for the end of the week would come back with a vengeance.

I finished the paperwork I'd put aside that afternoon as I wandered down the corridor, I noticed just how dark it had become.

The novelty of walking home in the dark had worn off but the last few days had been a reprise and the pitch black January sky took me aback as I prepared to make my way home.

Still, at least it wasn't raining.

The door opened to the unforgiving outside world and I looked up into the lamppost by the office to see nothing but thick snow falling at a rate of knots.

I steeled myself for the two mile jaunt and arranged my scarf about my head so I looked a little like the Iron Sheik, at least I was dry though.

It took a little longer than usual to get home but the snow didn't relent the whole time and my one saving grace, as I kicked my shoes off and Alison made me a cup of tea, was that the house was so snug that I instantly warmed up.

I lost track of the evening in a haze of trash television, pro wrestling and bagels but before I went to bed I looked quickly out of the window. I was disappointed not to see a snowy serenity akin to Dragonblight and sighed as I resigned myself to another snow day that didn't quite happen.

Friday 18th January

As the familiar tones of the alarm pulled me out of a blissful sleep without a second thought, I immediately remembered about the promise of snow. The Met Office had given a red warning in some areas (expect serious disruption) and I imagined just what that would mean for those stranded as I crawled out of bed.

There was more of a generous dusting of snow than I remembered the night before but nothing like the day after tomorrow that I was expecting. It was over. My dreams of a blissful day under a selection of blankets, playing Super Nintendo and eating crumpets were shattered and I moodily ate my honey hoops with an air of resignation.

I'd got myself ready in record time somehow and I wished my sleeping girlfriend a good day, she wasn't at work through her own good planning, but as I opened the door a sight greeted me that literally took my breath away.

The snow was falling hard and fast all around and I quickly retreated into the warmth temporarily as I grabbed a hat and a scarf. We're not meant to be adventurers anymore, society doesn't need us to be. There's not much left to discover. We live in a bubble in a lot of ways, ensconced by the luxury that the advances in technology afford us. This however, was as close to an adventure as I was going to get for a while.

As I trekked to work with a suitably huge soundtrack of videogame music from the 1990s, I was first aware of how much snow was falling by the main roads which were becoming whiter by the second.

Even the canal had frozen over and I hurried onwards to the sanctity of the office to find shelter from this unlikely storm.

I got to the office and was greeted by a few faithful sorts and we quickly swapped stories about our respective voyages.

The phone never stopped ringing at first as people called in to cancel whatever appointments they had booked.

The first e-mail that I received was one from head office. That was usually serious but this one simply told us about other branches that had been shut because of the severity of the weather.

I had 18 people booked in to see me at 10am but only 4 were able to make the trip; a poor turnout even by the usual standards. We'd originally been told that, if we had to leave to avoid being snowed in but weren't officially told to leave, we'd have to sacrifice annual leave because we'd not been instructed to leave, if that makes sense. It doesn't I know. I may be wrong but that's how it was explained to us.

This seemed like merely details though, because this snow flurry was passing the litmus test which usually weeds out most other would be snow days. It showed no signs of relenting, the roads were becoming covered in snow and the traffic past our office, one of the busiest roads in Stoke, was grinding to a halt.

I walked down the corridor to the office where my brother was located to ask if he needed a hand with anything. I sat writing envelopes to people for about 15 minutes while we all talked about sledging. This felt very real. These letters were taking forever.

This was to contact people who weren't able to be contacted by phone. Then it hit me all at once. This was it. There was going to be an announcement and it came almost instantly as the thought had left my head.

"We've been told if you've made plans for your afternoon clients then you're free to try and get home. You've made it in today so you won't be required to use annual leave for the rest of the day."

It was around 11:20 and my weekend had already started. I wished a safe journey to my friends and colleagues and began on my second snowy adventure of the day.

The door opened into the outside world and the blustery conditions intensified as I prepared to re walk the steps I had trodden only hours before. As I set out into the tundra I glanced back at the grey building that it felt like I'd just escaped from. The snow had given it a curious visage that attracted my glance but, not wanting to waste any time, I strode forward purposefully.

The traffic had stopped, thanks to a lorry that couldn't get up a hill, and I wondered about all the people this snow had disrupted.

I stopped off at the Co-op on my way to pick up some crumpets, crisps, milk and a few other snow day essentials but they soon grew heavy as I tackled the final hill across the canal.

This walk seemed longer than I remembered but my Ipod played a blinder by selecting some truly magical videogame classics. Link wouldn't get stuck up this hill, that was for sure.

Alison opened the front door as I made it up the steps. She immediately dipped into the bag to retrieve some Hula Hoops before ushering me into the warmth. That, as they say, was that.

The perfect start to the most perfect snow day I think I've ever had.

The last few days have been spent eating grilled bread products, making snowmen, shopping, playing videogames and drinking tea; everything a perfect snow day should contain really.

Usually there's a big point to writing whatever I'm writing but today, I just want to put this down so I never forget how much fun I had. I never want to take anything for granted but we live in a culture that promises us the world if we can wait another few days. We bypass the now in exchange for a brighter future but at what price?

Never forget the now.
You'll never relive it.

Take care
Ben



1 comment:

John Laurinaitis said...

I think that's a very important lesson to learn and one that shouldn't melt with the snow. The now isn't some faraway, blissful wonderland that is awarded to us if we complete a task like a Lab rat. Today is happening now and it's full of little bits of joy and fun but people rush around and everything around them is a blur.

Similarly, standing around and smelling the proverbial roses is judged with contempt in modern life as the follies of the dreamers and the unambitious. It isn't, it's just the sacrifice of the big purchase for the small wonder and although it is sometimes frustrating to not go out and buy what you want sometimes, you always have the comfort of being home and having what you need and really a happy homelife and a family who love you really is priceless.

All the hurrying and scurrying couldn't have bought you that day with Alison and it's those little things that matter.

What a lovely place society would be if we cherished what we had, not desire what we can't yet afford. Ambition is admirable but it's just as admirable as contentment.

Your day of stargazing wasn't the "Waste of time, with nowhere to go" that no doubt some of your workmates will inform you that theirs was when you roll into your office. I look out and think "If this snow enveloped our house forever, everything I need is in here with me". And that you'd feel the same about your home means that you've achieved the dream.

The only thing you needed that wasn't your imagination was a camera to keep the moment real x