Tag Archives: Snow day

Snow Day: a gift

Shoveling Snow With Buddha

by Billy Collins

In the usual iconography of the temple or the local Wok
you would never see him doing such a thing,
tossing the dry snow over a mountain
of his bare, round shoulder,
his hair tied in a knot,
a model of concentration.

Sitting is more his speed, if that is the word
for what he does, or does not do.

Even the season is wrong for him.
In all his manifestations, is it not warm or slightly humid?
Is this not implied by his serene expression,
that smile so wide it wraps itself around the waist of the universe?

But here we are, working our way down the driveway,
one shovelful at a time.
We toss the light powder into the clear air.
We feel the cold mist on our faces.
And with every heave we disappear
and become lost to each other
in these sudden clouds of our own making,
these fountain-bursts of snow.

This is so much better than a sermon in church,
I say out loud, but Buddha keeps on shoveling.
This is the true religion, the religion of snow,
and sunlight and winter geese barking in the sky,
I say, but he is too busy to hear me.

He has thrown himself into shoveling snow
as if it were the purpose of existence,
as if the sign of a perfect life were a clear driveway
you could back the car down easily
and drive off into the vanities of the world
with a broken heater fan and a song on the radio.

All morning long we work side by side,
me with my commentary
and he inside his generous pocket of silence,
until the hour is nearly noon
and the snow is piled high all around us;
then, I hear him speak.

After this, he asks,
can we go inside and play cards?

Certainly, I reply, and I will heat some milk
and bring cups of hot chocolate to the table
while you shuffle the deck.
and our boots stand dripping by the door.

Aaah, says the Buddha, lifting his eyes
and leaning for a moment on his shovel
before he drives the thin blade again
deep into the glittering white snow.



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Snow Day 101: A Guide for Work-at-Home Writers & Others

Vintage-Snow-Storm-3Everybody knew today would be a snow day. The weather report was dismal. Half the emails coming into my inbox signed off with, “Enjoy your snow day tomorrow!” Usually, when my kids’ school closes I get a very early morning phone call, 5-something o’clock, always interrupting my REM sleep, and startling me awake with a heart pounding “WTF?! Who died?!” feeling as I grab the phone and listen to the automated message. But not this morning. No phone call. No snow day.

My alarm went off at 6:30, as always, and I peeked out the window. Just a bit of snow. A couple inches maybe. No biggie. So I go ahead and wake my kids. My son was annoyed, as he stayed up binge watching WALKING DEAD with my husband (don’t even go there with me) figuring for sure there’d be no school today. My daughter was annoyed, as I inform her she can’t drive to school today, but must take the bus, giving her 15 minutes less time to get ready. I went down and made the coffee, fed the dogs, started to make sandwiches, and then the phone call comes in. Are you kidding?! So my kids are awake and getting ready for school, I’m already drinking my coffee, and now you tell us Snow Day!?

Now my kids have gone back to sleep but I’m caffeinated. And besides, I work from home so I never have a snow day, really. I was going to go on Twitter and ask someone to please give me permission to have a snow day, when I realized that’s just stupid. I’m 50 years old. There’s very little in my life that I’m willing to ask permission for any more. I’m in the “give permission” phase of my life. So, today I’d like to declare a snow day for all who work at home. Even if you live in Florida.

This is what I’m going to do today: Stay in my pajamas. Read my copy of Lucky Peach, from cover to cover. Instruct my children to make a fire in the fireplace. Start The Goldfinch, which I recently gifted to myself. Pop popcorn on the stove, in my “crank it by hand” popcorn popper thingy, which makes the best popcorn. Finish reading an enjoyable middle grade manuscript by a prospective client. Not feel guilty about not doing all those other things that I could/should be doing for work.

Here’s the guide part: even people who work from home, even people who are stay-at-home parents, even retired people, even highly motivated, cut-throat, success driven shark-like people, need a snow day. A snow day is a day off from whatever you usually do. But you stay home. And it’s relatively unplanned/unscheduled time. It can be expected or unexpected, but what you want to go for is not your usual work. For writers who have a day job, this might look like a day of uninterrupted writing time. For stay-at-home parents, this might look like a day you don’t monitor how much television your kid watches, so you can do something fun for yourself. For someone like me, who reads a ridiculous amount for work, it’s a day of reading for pleasure.

Ok. Go!

What are you going to do with your snow day? 



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