Masks

This afternoon I had the delightful task of telling my first-year writing students that Keene State is canceling classes tomorrow as we anticipate our latest snowstorm. I don’t teach on campus on Wednesdays–it’s my usual online grading day, a job I do from home regardless of the weather. But I experienced a vicarious thrill listening to my students’ excited plans to spend the day tomorrow sleeping in and making snowmen and snow-angels. What better way to spend a winter Wednesday?

Mask & mirror

When I finished teaching the last of today’s classes, I rushed home to walk Reggie in the lingering light of late afternoon. I regularly walk the dog when I’m done teaching: a late afternoon walk is a great way to shake off the workday, and I’m convinced both Reggie and I rest better because of it. But today, there was an additional urgency and thrill.

Tomorrow we’ll be snowed in, I thought, so we’d better walk now while the walking is good. While others were rushing out to the grocery store to stock their shelves and refrigerators with storm supplies, I snapped images of downtown shop windows. I have plenty of food in the house to weather our latest winter storm, but what will I blog in the meantime?

Tomorrow morning I was supposed to attend a meeting on campus, and I had another commitment in the afternoon. Now, with a single announcement, both of those obligations are obliterated, as if they themselves were buried in snow. I’d planned to do laundry tomorrow, and I have an afternoon appointment to get my car serviced…but if the sky falls as snowflakes, I can skip this week’s laundry and postpone that service appointment. If need be, I can skip out on everything tomorrow, staying hunkered down at home while grading papers online, my dog and a warm blanket to keep me company. Apart from the requisite doggy bathroom breaks, there’s really no need for me to go out into the storm until it’s over and it’s time to start shoveling and scraping.

Masks with reflection

As I hurried around town this afternoon, I realized how much I love this phenomenon of hunkering down, content in the knowledge that I have a refrigerator full of food, shelves full of books, and enough grading to keep me occupied but not overwhelmed. Even as a child, I enjoyed sick days home from school, for on those days my mom would nestle me on the couch or in bed, a soothing beverage and snack, warm blankets, and my favorite stuffed animals all within easy reach. On those days, I felt like a snug ship facing stern seas: no matter what sort of threat awaited outside, inside my warm cocoon I had everything I needed to stay safe and secure.

As I type these words, I’m tucked in for the night, my warm laptop my only link to the outside world. The sky can fall as snowflakes if it likes, and I myself don’t mind.