Like my students, I appreciate an occasional snow day. Waking up to hear the DJ listing my school on the snow day list reminds me of finding an unexpected twenty dollar bill in an old pair of jeans. It makes my heart smile.
Immediately I do a mental inventory of the baking supplies. Good news! Cupboards and canisters contain flour, sugar, shortening, and other goodies for cinnamon rolls, cookies, and bierocks.
On past snow days, we have worked out the division of labor so I baked and made cocoa while my husband did chores and shoveled. A good deal for me, especially after my experience this last snow.
Just before this snow began, my husband came down with a virus. I usually do not know when he feels ill, but this virus had more punch and left him aching and sniffling miserably in his chair.
Because the superintendent canceled school the previous night, we slept in Friday morning. Once up, I realized we had more snow and wind than anticipated. Since the chore master was side-lined, I bundled up to feed the livestock. I had to shove the door open against a three-foot drift. Outside the door, the real work began.
Our thermometer read somewhere between zero and ten degrees, and the weather channel said we had a windchill of –15 to –25 degrees. Walking to the corral through more knee high drifts woke me up ten times better than the coffee I had gulped earlier.
A north wind snatched half the hay from the pitchfork before I could get it in the feed bunk. What normally takes a few minutes took four times more because I had to plow through another drift to move from bale to feed bunk.
After hauling buckets of fresh water through the drifts, I had an inkling of what my pioneer ancestors thought about winter storms. I suspect they did not look forward to them nearly as much as I have in the past.
All these years my husband has done the outdoor work while I enjoyed the cooking and baking indoors. By the time I went outside, it was easy to get to the pens to water and feed.
This snow day opened my eyes. Snow quadruples work for ranchers, farmers, road crews, and oil field workers. Snow is only fun for people who do not have to work in it.
Kansas pioneers were tough. They did not have modern conveniences to welcome them when they returned to the house. If they had water, it was because they hauled it. If they were warm, it was because they brought in wood, coal, or buffalo chips to burn. I suspect those who lived above ground had drafty houses, and those who lived below ground knew their next problem had to do with the melt.
In my case, the electricity stayed on, the walls sheltered us from chilling winds, and water ran every time I turned on the faucet. Settlers must have hated snow days.