YESTERDAY AND TODAY WERE SNOW DAYS in what otherwise would be a very mild winter for us in the Vancouver Lower Mainland region. Schools were closed, and many people worked from home to avoid the roads and backed up transit. I just got back in from clearing off my car and re-parking it in front or our house (it had been ‘stuck’ in place down the street for the past few days). As I worked, I heard children’s delighted screams as they played in the snow and slid down the hill at the park. It reminded me of snow days from my own childhood.
I grew up in Powell River, and have glowing memories of donning a snow suit and sliding down the hill at Sunset Park on crazy carpets and toboggans. We made snow angels and threw snowballs, coming home with rosy cheeks. One year when I was about seven, long, clear icicles grew from the eaves of our house. Dad snapped them off and we sucked on them like popsicles. They didn’t taste very good, but it was fun.
For Christmas when I was about 11, my sister and I received matching ten speed bikes for Christmas. We couldn’t wait for Spring, so created our own track in the back yard and rode around and around in the snow for hours.
When I was 16, my dad helped teach me to drive, and a snow day was an opportunity to learn. Dad brought me and my sister to an empty parking lot at the old Brooks School and showed us how to get out of ice skids by turning the steering wheel into the slide, rather than jerking it in the opposite direction and hitting the brakes, a normal reaction and which would cause an accident. Not only did he show us, but he made us do it while he was sitting in the passenger seat. We became comfortable with having the car get out of and then regain control.
This skill has helped me avoid several accidents over the years. When I was at university I worked as a late-night janitor, cleaning the faculty offices and classrooms on campus. One winter night I drove home at 2 a.m., turned left onto my Provo street, and found my car sliding hopelessly towards the deep rain gutters. I remember thinking that there was nothing I could do, but I let up on the brake like my dad taught me, and the car came to a stop and stalled right on the edge of the gully. I carefully backed up and drove the remaining few meters home, shaken but safe.
Another time right after university graduation, I was living and working back in Powell River. I rented a basement suite in a house south of town on Byron Road. I made it up the first hill, but when I was turning right to go up the second hill, the loss of speed caused me to lose momentum. I started sliding backward towards a forested embankment on the opposite side of the street. I had the idea to quickly change gears into reverse, cause the car to slide around so that I was facing back down the first hill, and quickly change into drive to stop the slide and start going down the hill. It worked! I was shaken but managed to park at the bottom of the hill and decided to walk up and down the kilometre or so until the roads were better.
Although there is something fun about being out in the snow, there is also something peaceful about cozying up inside to watch the flakes come down and read a good book.
Writing prompt: How about you? What are your snow day memories?