Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Working in an elementary school, I hear a lot of people longing for some snow days. And when I say people, I don't just mean the kids who want a day off from school. Teachers seem to want the days off as much as, if not more than, the students they teach. I know we've only been back in school for three days since the Christmas vacation, but I'm sure each faculty and staff member would enjoy a day to sleep in again.
But those snow days are not coming any time soon. After last winter's mild climate, I'm not optimistic about receiving any significant snowfall. There are a lot of people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder in the winter due to a lack of sunlight. I think I'm suffering from the disorder due to a lack of snow. So I'm allowing my mind to carry me back to colder days; days when the snow fell freely from the skies over Bluefield College.
Before I began my education at Bluefield College, I was told that the town of Bluefield, Virginia experienced a total of two seasons: winter and August. This report came from people who lived in the area that has also been described as Four Seasons Country. So is it four or two?
Okay, after living there for five years myself, I can say that Bluefield does experience four seasons. But winter tends to last a little bit longer and summer doesn't seem to start as soon as it does in a lot of other places. I've seen snow arrive as early as September and fall again as late as May. That latter snow made for an interesting graduation ceremony in the spring of 2002.
When the snow fell heavily, it meant good times at Bluefield College. It meant snowball fights. It meant sledding at one's own risk down the treacherous Rish Hall hill. It meant a gorgeous blanket of white that laid out neatly across an already beautiful campus.
I remember being playfully attacked by a group of girls during a heavy snowfall my freshman year. At least, I hope it was a playful attack. My face was buried in the snow more than once that night. It may have been more brutal than I choose to remember. I've been told my sarcasm would get me punched in the face before. May have been my sarcasm got me shoved into the snow and ice on that fateful night.
Each year I took advantage of that treacherous hill behind Rish Hall. How could I not? It was steep and slick. Now, I did try to avoid any ramps that had been built in the snow. I'm no daredevil. And after seeing a kid on a snowboard attempt a back flip and land on his head, I avoided ramps at all costs. I will say this: going down was wicked fun, but the walk back up was a pain. It's not easy walking up that steep hill when it's covered in dry grass. Two feet of snow doesn't help in the slightest.
And then there's the view. I'm sure not everyone feels that Bluefield is as beautiful as I consider it. But that's how I think of it. Throughout most of my years living in the dorm, I was able to look out the window at the sight of East River Mountain rising on the not too distant horizon. Time after time, I could see the clouds literally rolling in over the mountains and seemingly falling into the town. Seeing the trees on that mountain covered with snow is nearly as breathtaking as a sunrise over the Atlantic.
I remember the excitement of walking around campus at night. The excitement came not just because there was already a foot of snow on the ground, but because the snow was still falling. It was incredible seeing those big flakes falling past the lamps throughout the campus. And you know the way the new fallen snow tends to muffle the sounds around you? Even that lack of noise caused me to get excited. That kind of snow usually meant that classes would be cancelled the next day. Snow days at Bluefield College certainly did not come that often. So we didn't take them for granted. We slept in. We got bundled up. We played in the snow like we would if we had been 1st graders enjoying a day off from school.