Reflections on a Snow Day

Posted on Friday, January 31st, 2014 by admin under Students, Uncategorized. Tags: ,

Student Perspective Post by Matt Barrett
Graduate Assistant for Communications

Photography by Denise Sherron
Graduate School Staff

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Jackson Library on a snowy day.

I have to admit, I’m beginning to feel like a psychic.  At the start of my last blog, I mentioned how I’ve been told to never discuss the weather—but I brought it up anyway, and voila, a southern snow storm sweeps across the region and shuts down our school for nearly forty-eight hours.  I can’t say that I am totally to thank (or to blame) for the snow, but I have to admit, it was a pretty nice coincidence.  On Wednesday, I drove through downtown Chapel Hill and felt like I was in New England.  Since I doubt we will have too many more snow days during the next year-and-a-half that I am here, I thought it would be nice to reflect on some of the most memorable snowstorms in my twenty-four years of existence.

If you don’t already know, I’m pursuing my MFA in Creative Writing here at UNCG.  While I can’t pinpoint an exact time I decided to pursue a writing career, I often think of an essay that I wrote in elementary school.  The essay was about a snowstorm in Bar Harbor, Maine, and it described one of the most exciting experiences of my life at the time.  I was nine, and my family and I drove up to Bar Harbor like we always did, the day after Christmas.  And as we were sitting in our motel room, it started to snow.  There were a couple inches on the ground by the time we wanted dinner—so we decided to walk, and on the way, my dad ran out into the middle of an empty street and made snow angels.  My sister and I screamed, like it was the funniest thing we’d ever seen.  And after dinner, with about six inches on the ground, we made snow balls and forts, and, in the middle of Bar Harbor (a town which hosts 3 million tourists during the summer months), my family and I had a snowball fight.  When I reflected on this night in my essay, I described it as “magical.”  And after getting a positive response from my teacher, I wanted to write about all of the magical moments in my life.  A majority of my fiction ever since has included some kind of snowy landscape.

In high school, there were two years in a row when snowstorms forced CB West (my alma mater) to close on December 5th.  Normally Pennsylvania doesn’t get snow that early, but both years, the storms accumulated over a foot.  There was a dam across the street from my house, and whenever a gust of wind blew through, the snow shifted to one side of the hill, making certain parts feel several feet deep.  After sledding for hours, my neighborhood friends and I built tunnels in the dam and watched the snow continue to fall.  I can still picture it perfectly—the frozen reservoir and my friends all bundled up in their winter gear and, of course, the thoughts of hot chocolate that awaited us at home.  I never went skiing as a kid, but sledding at the reservoir was the next best thing.  From November through March, I checked weather.com every week for potential snowstorms, dreaming of the days when we could pull our sleds across the street.

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Minerva on a wintry day.

I forgot how much I loved snow days until this week.  As a commuter student, I appreciate that UNCG took precautions during the storms—the roads were slick and there was no need to risk driving.  On our day off, I played disc golf in the woods of Chapel Hill while children pulled their sleds to the nearest hill.  I was reminded of my own childhood, and I had to pinch myself, just to know I was still in North Carolina.  I didn’t expect this kind of week, but I’m happy it happened—not only for a day away from school, but for the chance to feel like a kid again.