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Snow day magic

Megan Doyle | Friday, February 4, 2011

I grew up dreaming for snow days. I cannot count the number of nights I slept with a spoon under my pillow and my pajamas inside-out. If my prayers were ever answered by some miracle, I scraped together all the snow in my Atlanta lawn to build a snowman.

My family moved north, and I only learned more snow meant a bigger snowman. But nothing changed the magic of waking up to a fresh dusting of snow and a listing of school closings.

Now I am in college, and the snow, once miraculous, suddenly became a hassle. Another inch on the ground became another inch to scrape off my car in the freezing cold. Another coating on the ground meant more snow in my boots, more cold wind and more slippery ice on the sidewalk. Another foot on the ground meant more layers to pile, bundle, wrap, zip and fasten before I venture outside.

South Quad no longer becomes a friendly stretch of grass. Instead it is a harsh wind tunnel, an Arctic expanse of wasteland and wind. I wish for a team of Alaskan sled dogs and a parka.

Where did the magic go? I thought I lost it. I used to live for snow days. My sisters and I would wake up to chocolate chip pancakes, hot chocolate and bacon, and we would spend our day sledding on the giant hill behind our house. The rush of adrenaline as the sled rocketed down the hill was life — childhood exploded in that one, beautiful, miraculous moment. Now, the only rushing I do in the middle of the winter is on the sidewalks between classes as I huddle in my jacket and make a beeline for DeBart.

The last snow day at Notre Dame was in 2000. So when I woke up on Wednesday morning to the Notre Dame Alert text informing me that the University closed due to inclement weather, I almost thought I was in a dream. Yet I woke up again — at noon — to the reality of an actual, real-life, college snow day. I almost died of joy.

My afternoon was spent curled on a comfortable couch with my favorite people, watching movies, pretending to do work, waiting for brownies to be ready, eating too many brownies, watching more movies and then remembering I really did have an insane amount of work to finish because real life was still in session.

After the perfect afternoon free from classes, I spent the night staying up too late and doing homework. But on the way back to my dorm in the cold, the dome shone against the dark night. The snow fell softly, silently and sweetly. I suddenly was hit with a sense of reverence and smacked by a sense of peace in the middle of the craziest week. Because here we are in a world that does not stop turning, even for a blizzard, and I had a moment of peace. I had my own miracle: a day to remember miracles. A snow day.

I did not sleep with a spoon under my pillow. I did not wear my pajamas inside-out. I did not build a snowman.

I just turned by face up to the sky and tasted the cold snowflakes as they melted on my tongue. And life was magical.

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Megan Doyle at mdoyle11@nd.edu