It was a really unusual snow day for me.
Oh, I knew it was coming. I had watched the news incessantly and monitored every minor fluctuation in the forecast. The white stuff didn’t catch me by surprise — not in the least.
I dutifully loaded up my deck with firewood on Monday and made the obligatory trip to the grocery store for milk and bread. I think that’s actually where this snow day began to become a little different from all the snow days of my past. I am on a very restrictive diet these days — an attempt to relieve my muscles and joints from some of the pain that has plagued me since my most recent cancer treatments began.
I am not eating bread at the moment, nor drinking milk. Red meat is a rarity. I stocked up on ground turkey, gluten free pasta and kale.
Yeah. I know. If you think that’s bad, wait ‘til you hear what we’re serving at our Super Bowl party this Sunday.
But we were talking Snow Jam ’14, weren’t we?
Normally, on a snow day, I would have been up at the crack of dawn, watching and waiting for the first flake to fall — and waiting for the news on school closings. School closings no longer affect me — for the first winter since 1957. The first flake wasn’t scheduled until later in the morning, so I slept in and the talking heads in New York City were already on duty by the time I gathered my newspapers and turned on the television.
Instead of building a big fire and waiting impatiently for the blizzard (I’m a Son of the South, an inch-and-a-half of snow qualifies as a blizzard if it sticks) I got dressed and went to a meeting at church — which wasn’t supposed to occur until the next day, but that’s a story for another day. A little later I went back to town for a meeting of retired educators, of which I am now one.
I enjoyed the food and fellowship with my fellow former pedagogues when the first flakes started falling. Any other time I would have been very frustrated and anxious to get home — to start a pot of chili, to make sure the fire was blazing, to get candles and matches ready in case we lost power.
This time I was strangely content to sit and listen to the program and watch the snow begin to accumulate on the grass outside the window.
I finally did get home, around 1 p.m. That’s when I really started feeling forlorn, because I was all alone in a big, empty house. My oldest daughter, Jamie Leigh, is all grown up now with a real job and apparently in the real world they don’t send you home — or to play with your daddy — at the first sign of frozen precipitation. Bummer.
I did get a text from her that read, “It’s snowing!” and I could feel the excitement in her little Southern belle heart through the exclamation point.
My son Jackson and I used to have a great time in the snow. We would help his granddaddy feed the cows and slide down our terraces in sleds and have a grand old time. Jackson is in the real world, too, and though the school at which he teaches did send him home early, he had to go to his home, so he would be available for duty once school resumes. And we no longer have any cows to feed.
Our youngest child, Jenna, who also likes to frolic in the snow with her dad, was enjoying the day at UGA with her friends.
My kids have been out of the house for a while, understand, and my lovely wife, Lisa, and I have learned to cope. In fact, there have been times that we appreciated the fact that there were only two sets of gloves and scarves and stocking caps strewn all over the hearth instead of five or eight or 12, or whatever the number had grown to. Our house, you see, was usually Ground Zero for any snowstorm lasting more than six-and-a-half hours.
We have learned to enjoy one another’s company, as we did before the kids came along. We always dressed up in layers and walked around the farm, taking pictures, and made snow angels and laughed and frolicked and did all the things couples do who are young and in love. Then we would come in and sit by the fire and drink hot tea or hot chocolate, wrap up in a blanket on the couch and read — or take a nap — and enjoy the food that we always keep simmering on the stove.
Alas, Lisa was at work at Rockdale Medical Center, taking care of mothers and babies who need care no matter what the weather decides to do. As the snow fell harder and harder it became more and more likely that she might not be able to drive home once her 12-hour shift ended.
So I sat and watched the woods outside my window fill up with snow. I couldn’t muster enough enthusiasm to get dressed and walk outside. I didn’t even want to build a fire because what’s the point if there is no one with whom to share?
And I finally understood the old Three Dog Night song from my teen years.
“One” really is the loneliest number that you’ll ever know.