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Dan Conradt: Snow day brings a blizzard of things to do

February 10, 2019
Conradt

I pulled the covers up to my chin and crossed my fingers.

The radio was on in the living room, and I strained to hear it over the sound of wind whistling through the window frame.

It SOUNDED like a day when school should be canceled.

“These are the schools that are closed for the day,” the radio guy said: “Adams … Elkton … Grand Meadow … Hayfield … LeRoy … Lyle …”

I crossed my toes.

“ … Rose Creek …”

The sound of three boys cheering drowned out the rest of the list.

I’d fallen asleep thinking of the snow pile near the elevator. For three months it had grown steadily, and it was now the perfect size for sledding or a game of “King Of The Hill.” With school canceled, every kid in town would spend the day at The Hill.

Even better, no school meant NO FRACTIONS!

I threw back the blankets, slipped into the dungarees and sweatshirt I’d left on the bedroom floor and ran down the stairs. I had one boot on when Mom came up from the basement with an overflowing laundry basket. She dumped it on the dining room table.

“Before you go out to play,” she said, “I need you to fold the towels.”

“I don’t know how to fold towels!” I protested.

“I’ll show you,” she said, pulling one out of the pile and deftly doing towel origami. “There … it’s not so hard.”

I reluctantly reached for a towel but stopped in revulsion: “What’s THAT?”

“Your brother’s underwear.”

“I’m NOT touching his underwear!”

“I’ll do the underwear,” she said with a sigh. “Just do the towels.”

Seven towels. 45 minutes. It was harder than she let on.

“Mom!” I yelled. “I finished folding the towels! Can I go outside?”

“Make your bed first!” she hollered back.

“Awwww!”

“Don’t ‘awwww’ me,” she said. “It’ll take two minutes …”

“Nice snow day,” I mumbled as I stomped up the stairs. Mom’s timing was off: it took 20 minutes to make my bed, and even then it still looked like … well, like an unmade bed.

“Mom! I made my bed! Can I go outside!”

“Sure,” she said. “Come in when you get cold.”

I sat on the kitchen floor and tugged my boots on, shrugged into my winter coat, pulled a stocking cap over my ears and put on a pair of mittens. The back door swept snow off the step when I pushed it open, and when I jumped off the stoop the new snow came up to my knees.

Dad must have been waiting for me: “I need you to shovel the sidewalk,” he said from the door of his shop.

“Awwww!”

“Don’t ‘awwww’ me!” he said.

I wanted to ask if parents practice that line, but I knew I couldn’t outrun him. I grabbed a shovel.

The snow was perfect for snowballs but not so much for shoveling, and every scoop weighed a ton. I quickly fell into a rhythm … two scoops and rest, two scoops and rest.

“Whaddya doin’?” a voice asked between scoops.

I turned to find three of my friends watching me.

“What does it look like I’m doing?”

“Shoveling?”

“Uh-huh.”

“When are you gonna be done?”

“The Fourth of July.”

They all laughed like they thought I was joking.

“Come to the hill when you’re done,” they said. “We’re going sledding!”

Scoop scoop rest. Scoop scoop rest. I never realized we owned seven miles of sidewalk.

I had just finished shoveling and had taken three steps in the direction of The Hill when I heard mom’s voice: “Dan! Time for lunch!”

I trudged back to the house, dropped my stuff in a pile just inside the kitchen door and took my usual spot at the table.

“What are we having?” I asked.

“Liver!”

I didn’t risk another “awwww”, but I was thinking it. And shoveling must have made me hungry, because I actually ate some liver. “Can I go outside now?” I asked, gesturing at my plate.

“After you dry the dishes,” mom said.

Did I mention that she’s the world’s slowest dishwasher? An hour later: “Can I go outside NOW?”

“Sure,” she said. “Come in when you get cold.”

I climbed back into my winter gear and paused at the kitchen door to make sure Dad wasn’t waiting for me. When I was convinced the coast was clear I jumped off the step and headed for The Hill. I was nearly there when the guys came walking toward me.

“Let’s go to The Hill!” I called as they got closer.

“We’ve been at The Hill all day!” one of my buddies said.

“We’re freezing!” another said. “We’re going home.”

“See you at school tomorrow,” a third added. “If we HAVE school!”

I hope we do. After a day off like this, I’m kind of looking forward to fractions.

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