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Gary Borders: An adult-style snow day is still pretty perfect

Marcia Davis
The Daily Tribune

I finally got a snow day. As spring explodes and summer beckons, I recall that February day fondly.

When the first round of ice and snow hit Mount Pleasant on a Monday, I had brought a suitcase and change of clothes with me, figuring the roads might be too treacherous to make the 55-mile drive home in the dark. They were, so I spent the night in a motel and was at work early the next morning. But I went home Tuesday night and awoke at 5:30 to the sound of rain. OK, maybe the predicted snow is not coming. I checked the weather forecasts and saw it was snowing heavily in Mount Pleasant. Within minutes the rain here changed to heavy snow. It quickly became clear before sunrise that driving to work was not a good idea.

So, snow day it was!

I really don’t remember the last time I had a snow day. Best I can recall it was in college at Stephen F. Austin State in Nacogdoches, because I have a photo somewhere I shot with my old Speed Graphic of a snow-covered creek bisected by a small waterfall. All those decades spent working at newspapers meant I ended up working even longer than usual during snowy or icy weather. We still had to get out a newspaper, and I was usually the fellow in charge, so I had to be there.

Snow days in New Hampshire were rare, where I lived until nearly 13, since those Yankees are used to snow. It takes a genuine wind-whipping snowdrift-building blizzard to shut down schools — of which several have hit my old haunts this winter. But I am someone who can truthfully say that “I walked to school in the snow, and it was uphill both ways.” I trudged up Valley Street and then down Granite Street to the Allenstown Elementary school, which was a half-mile away. After school, I walked up Granite and down Valley to home.

Our gang of friends — Bruce and James Courtemanche, Peter Engel and names that have long left my memory — spent snow days doing what we did after school and weekends — building elaborate forts out of snowbanks, sledding down hills, ice skating at the outdoor rink the St. John the Baptist Catholic Church set up each year. Seems like we lived outdoors at that age, no matter the weather. I have definitely lost the desire to shovel snow on a regular basis, though last month’s storm was a lovely break from our typical dreary, wet winters.

By mid-morning Wednesday, my wife dragged out an inner tube from the cache of swimming pool toys, and we walked up the hill from our house. The snow was wet and heavy — perfect snowball material. She got on her stomach across the tube, arms and legs outstretched. I pushed from the bottom of her boots and we plowed a wake down the hill. Then we changed places, and it was my turn to go “sledding,” albeit briefly. I tossed a few snowballs and then headed inside.

In previous years, I would have been fretting about the paper, but I have competent help — and modern technology. I have prepared for the day I might not be able to get to Mount Pleasant to help get out the paper. I installed the page layout software on my Mac, set up a cloud drive on which my co-workers could put the photos and stories I needed. So, wearing my slippers, sweatpants and tattered sweatshirt, my legs covered in a throw and Red River Radio playing in the background, I designed the front page, occasionally looking out the study window at the snow-covered tree limbs.

All in all, it was a pretty perfect snow day.

Gary Borders has been an East Texas journalist and editor for more than 40 years. He works now as a freelance writer, editor and photographer. You can see his work at garyborders.com. He has written for World Wildlife magazine, Texas Monthly, Texas Observer and Airstream Life.