Being on the road less travelled

 It’s a snow day. Are there more glorious words for a child? 

When I was very young my family lived in an Alberta hamlet; a place small in population but big in community spirit. One winter evening while we were visiting in the home of the school principal, a storm started to blow in. We were upstairs playing, blissfully unaware of what was happening outside, until we heard the older kids come running up the stairs shouting that Principal Green was cancelling school for the following day.  

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Since most students came in on buses, he made the decision to keep everyone home and safe. 

A few years later, a move to a Saskatchewan city meant a snow day would be unlikely since students lived within blocks of their schools and everyone would walk. But one severe winter storm ground the city to such a halt the schools were closed for four full days. It was an unexpected surprise to be sure. 

From Grades 1-12 we spent approximately 2,280 days in school. I liked school, I really did. But wow, those four days stand out for me. I can’t tell you what we did with the time exactly, but I remember jumping out of bed each day, running to the living room window and finding out we would be at home again. Seeing those stormy conditions continue was a sheer delight. Because I was a child. 

As a youngster I wasn’t thinking about blocked roads, heavy shovelling or the risk it would be getting stuck. I didn’t think about that at all until the day my mother needed to go to the hospital. Up to that point I’d given no consideration to the people whose job it was to clear the roads so people could get where they needed to be. Thanks to them my dad got my mom to the hospital and things turned out just fine. But before the doctor could help, a snow crew had to do their part. 

When the conditions outside are awful or downright dangerous, we can choose to stay sheltered while others are out doing what needs to be done: clearing roads so we have access to emergency services; ensuring that people who need to venture out can do so as safely as possible, like those who care for the sick and elderly, those who protect us, and those keeping our utilities running. 

I was listening to a man admit he took full advantage of a blizzard day to "be a kid." He said he’d never had a snow day as a child, so decided he was going to spend the day playing video games. He didn’t risk going out, nor did he put others in jeopardy. Is there a better way to spend the day? 

Well, maybe. Very early in the morning, when 35 centimetres of snow meant most of us couldn’t move, a dad and his boys were out on our street. They were on foot, carrying shovels and jumping in to help out where they could. I wasn’t surprised. That is exactly the kind of thing these guys have done before. I know, because I have seen it and I’ve been the beneficiary. And I know the same kind of thing was happening on many streets not only in our town but in every location where the storm had its way. 

We are just at the start of another season of all of this. Let’s not forget that before most of us even have a chance to see how bad it really is, crews are already out there taking on the enormous process of getting roadways cleared. Maybe not your street first, maybe not even within the first few hours, but they are out there doing all they can, as fast as they are able. In the meantime, take a moment to be grateful you can wait it out in a place where you are warm, safe and have plenty to do. 

Instead of complaining that it isn't being done fast enough, how about staying put and letting them do their job so that in time you can get out and do yours. It may very well be you, your child or grandparent who will be the one expressing thankfulness that the road to the hospital was cleared first. That's my outlook. 

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