The two major news items on everyone's mind here today are: 1) the protests in Egypt, and 2) the impending blizzard carpeting the Midwest. About the former, I don't have much to say except that I hope that there is a peaceful resolution. I co-teach a preschool playgroup/class on Tuesday mornings, and a couple of the kids in there are from Egypt. They didn't show up today, which could have been for any number of reasons, but I suspect they were home with their mother, waiting for news of family members in their home country (I heard later that they were able to make contact and have confirmed their relatives are okay.)
Then there's the blizzard. We are currently under a Blizzard Warning. The whole southern part of the state has been declared a "snow emergency," which is actually rather exciting. I know the Northeastern part of the country is more than ready for winter to be over, but here where I live, though we've had plenty of snow and frigid temps, this is our first major Winter Storm Event of the season. It's very cold and windy, snow is swirling and drifting outside, and the Big Dump (don't think I didn't snicker writing that) will happen tonight while we're warm in our beds. There will be several inches, maybe even a foot, of fresh snow on the ground in the morning, waiting for plows, shovels and snowblowers to clear the roads and sidewalks.
Madison schools are already called off for tomorrow, which is no trivial matter. It takes a LOT for the city to cancel school. One day last week, it was -17 when Stuart left for work, with a wind chill of -25, and the schools were functioning as normal with no delays or cancellations. I actually learned today that because of the staggered opening times and tight bus schedule, it is impossible for Madison schools to be delayed; they can only be canceled. It takes a heckuva blizzard, or a Severe Wind Chill Warning (-35 for more than an hour) to call off schools.
My kids aren't in public schools yet, but Daniel is in a preschool that just goes by the public school schedule, so we're bracing ourselves for a long day at home tomorrow (normally he goes Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons). We'll probably gorge on television and cocoa and cookies, maybe venture out for some shoveling and playing in the snow once the storm is over and the wind dies down. I'm thinking of the snow days of my youth. I grew up in central Kentucky, where the mere prediction of snow was enough for the authorities to cancel school. (To be fair, the county roads there get treacherous awfully fast, and there aren't enough municipal services to clear the roads as quickly as up here.) Our school district in Kentucky built in 10 extra days to allow for weather cancelations, and we often exceeded that. Madison allows for one.
Here, snow and cold temperatures are simply a fact of life. Without them, how would we entertain ourselves in the great outdoors in the winter? We wear our snowpants until they are threadbare and fraying at the bottom, the kids each have several pairs of backup mittens for when the first pair wets through, we have our favorite sledding hills, we tried ice skating for the first time this winter (Daniel loves it, Anya's still not so sure), and though I have yet to try cross-country skiing, I will eventually. The neighbor kid who's in Kindergarten this year goes snowshoeing during recess. I could knit nothing but socks and hats and mittens, and we'd never have too many.