It got cold, and then it stayed cold. As a result, Burke’s pond back in Warder Park behind Whitaker froze over to a very good depth. Micah and I went up on Sunday to play krokay on it. There was only one wicket on the ice, but that was the greatest wicket I’d yet had the pleasure to go through. It was great: with even the slightest tap, a ball would go sliding for about half a minute. It was hard to get it to stop anywhere near the wicket for a reasonably good next shot. That was probably the first time I wished I’d taken more shots to get through (amazingly, I only needed two). However, with all this cold, the one thing we were missing was snow.
The weatherman told us the story last Monday: a system was moving in, promising to dump three to five inches on us, starting sometime Tuesday. The snow began falling as I was in fourth bell at the Building, but it started coming down really in earnest during about sixth. Whenever an announcement came on, everyone expected it to be an early dismissal announcement. Eventually, in seventh bell, it was. Mr Rasulis said they would be letting out middle building first and then proceeding to high school shortly. People in my class started whipping out cell phones to call to get picked up. So here’s what the building did: They waited five minutes and let out middle school bus riders. Then, they waited ten more minutes and let out middle school in general, prompting Rosie to shout, “They haven’t even let out middle school yet?” About this time she also noted: “It takes my mom five minutes to drive here from my house. That means she’s been sitting out in the parking lot for ten minutes in a cold car. They should’ve let us out an hour and a half ago, because now everyone’s driving really carefully and slowly to keep from sliding on the snow, and they’re also all bocking the buses.” Well, what do you expect? It’s not a real school. They waited another fifteen minutes, during which we speculated when we might get out: I figured we would end up not even getting out early. Aaron took it a step farther and said, “Watch. We’re going to get out late. That would be the ultimate irony.” When we did get out it was ten minutes before normal dismissal, but I decided I wasn’t going to think of it as getting out ten minutes early; rather, as getting out half an hour late. I biked home and got snow all up in my hair and beard, which looked so fetching I had to take a picture of it.
I learned about nine that night that Wednesday (the seventh) was a snow day. I also measured the snow after it had finished falling: seven inches.
Keith had given me an idea. I got up at 0700, borrowed a snow shovel, and started offering to shovel people’s driveways. It was 0815 before I got a customer, but I ended up shoveling five driveways and building up a good amount of warmth in the process. All told, I made $81.25 on the day and stayed warm, and also worked up an appetite. After that I walked up to Warder to check out how everything was looking. Looking out onto Burke’s Pond, I noticed there were footprints halfway out onto it. Now, when Micah and I had played krokay there, we had only gone a little way out. But here, clearly, someone was daring enough to go out all the way to the middle of the pond; indeed, there appeared to have been a group of them. I decided to go out too. The whole time, I kept telling myself: “I must be a dang fool. I’m an idiot.” But the ice held. I became the first person this winter (and probably for several winters, because this is the best cold snap I remember) to walk all the way across. I spotted a promising empty spot near the middle, so I went and made a Vitruvian snow angel. I also dropped off some pictures at Walgreens. I was extremely satisfied for the day; it was the best day I’d had in a really long time, perhaps years.
Yesterday, that weatherman was at it again. Originally we were forecast to get five to ten inches overnight and today, but then it was downgraded to something like four to six, if any. The system could miss us, he said. This morning I had almost forgotten about all that, but my alarm was luckily tuned to 700 WLW, where they were reading school closings. The guy stopped at the end of the E’s and said, “Let’s take a break and we’ll start with the F’s.” So then they took five agonizing minutes to do a weather report, a traffic report, a sports report, and an airport report. Then the guy started reading again. Fayetteville, Felicity, Finneytown, Franklin. All closed. Ha! I went back to sleep. Ha!
Later today, Micah and I walked up to Panera. He wanted to eat somewhere else, but I had the money, thanks to last Wednesday. On the way, we admired the exquisite havoc. Our street wasn’t even plowed yet; it didn’t get plowed until 1430. We saw a pine tree that was severely droopy. Winton was fine, to my dismay. I took my camera along and stocked up on pictures of the ice everywhere. There was an especially interesting layer that had formed on a sign and partially slipped off, leaving a clear replica of the sign.
Panera was good. I have a tradition of using names that are not actually mine at Panera. In the past I’ve used Spock, Vladimir, and Ivanhoe. Today I used Santa Claus. The guy who called it out said, “A little late for that, isn’t it?”
We walked back. I should note that the sidewalks were not even visible. There was of course a thick layer (well, a quarter inch or so) of ice on top of the snow. I was extraordinarily happy. Snow days are the best days ever.
Back in the house, I contemplated how to spend the rest of the day. I was reading Calvin and Hobbes, and I suddenly realized what I needed to do. It was heavy snow, but I was determined. I started by building up a very large pile of snow with a shovel. Then I started shaping it by hand. I got the shovel and carved a big hole in the pile. I added features and sticks. And then I took pictures. It’s a replica of the famous Calvin sculpture “The Torment of Existence Weighed against the Horror of Nonbeing”. It is the greatest thing ever, especially for a Calvin and Hobbes person such as myself.
“Look at that kid’s snowman! What a pathetic cliché!
“Am I supposed to identify with this complacent moron and his shovel?? This snowman says nothing about the human condition! Is this all the kid has to say about contemporary suburban life?!
“The soulless banality of this snowman is a sad comment on today’s art world.
“Now come look at my snowman.
“I call it, ‘The Torment of Existence Weighed against the Horror of Nonbeing.’
“As he melts, the sculpture will become even more poignant.”
“I admire your willingness to put artistic integrity before marketability.”
Copyright Bill Watterson. Reproduced here only for illustrative purposes. (Please do not sue me, Mr Watterson; I have no ill intentions and I love you dearly. And I’ll take it down if you want me to)