A lock down piece.
It’s March 13th, a Friday, 2020. Yesterday the provincial government of Ontario announced that they would be closing all schools for an extended March break. The reason? To slow the anticipated growth of the COVID 19 pandemic. This week the whole world has shown its fear.
After a night of troubled sleep, I wake up tired, but ready to get my two eldest children out the door for their last day of school. Our regular one week March Break will now be 3 weeks.
“Emma, Erin! You’re going to have to wear your snow pants today.” I call into the living room.
“What? Really?” Emma’s exasperated reply is muffled as it passes through the wall.
“It’s blowing out there today. Just look out the window. See?”
“Alright, Mom!” Erin sounds unexpectedly chipper this morning. His usual reluctance at getting ready replaced by a child’s happiness at it being the last day of school, for ALMOST a whole MONTH.
After a few minutes of eye-rolling by Emma, finding a sweater for Erin, and bundling myself up against the wind, we head out the door.
“How cold is it this morning Mom?” Erin asks.
“-8, but with the wind, it feels like -17. Are you glad I told you to wear your snow stuff this morning?”
“Yep!” Said Erin happily. His sister mumbles a NO as she passes me on our way towards the sidewalk.
Today the wind is cold but I don’t want to give up our last morning of being able to walk to school. It might be a while that we are stuck at home. The fresh air and exercise are good for all of us.
“Watch out for the ice Erin!” I call as he slides his boots over a patch hidden by a dusting of snow.
The wind whips by and carries that light dusting with it. It skips across the clear cold street, only stopping at the gutters and sidewalks still half-filled with bumpy patches of thick ice.
As we reach the sidewalk Erin exuberantly points at the street ahead of us.
“Look Emma! The snow looks like snakes! Oh my gosh! That is so cool!”
“It’s following us, Erin!” Emma says, her gloom turning into wonder as she points behind us. “Looks its passing us!”
All three of us smile as the wind hits our backs and caries the fallen snow across the pavement.
“Mom! It looks like the snow is running ahead of us and making a painting.” Emma’s finger waves in the air and at the ground around us. “It’s so beautiful. It’s running altogether in front of us. Here it comes! There it goes!”
“I’m glad this wind is at our backs today,” I say.
“Yep! The wind is faster than humans Mom. It’ll help us get to school.”
Halfway through our 15-minute walk, we stop at the white cross in the churchyard. It’s our regular morning ritual to stop here. I pull out my smartphone, turn on our favourite family game, Pokemon Go, and hand it over to Erin. As he ketches his virtual Pokemon, I notice both kids are still eyeing the street next to us. Not even the lure of technology is dampening their appreciation for this morning.
Once all the Pokemon have been caught we continue on our way to school. The Kindergarten school bus passes us, and I wave to the man who safely drove both my kids to and from school, just a few years ago. He hasn’t forgotten any of us. Or their shenanigans.
The wind is still coming in gusts, and Emma states her disappointment as it dies down just as a slithering batch of snow was to reach us. But as a car drives by, it picks up again and follows the vehicle in strange zigzagging patterns.
“I love it when the snow dances Mom.” Says Emma as I grab her and Erin’s hands to make the last crossing before we reach the schoolyard.
“I do too Baby.”
The small parking lot on the other side of the street is a sheet of dark rippling ice. I again remind Erin to be careful as he slightly crouches, holds his arms behind himself, and runs ‘like a ninja’ over the worst section.
“Oh look, the snow is all stuck here!” Says Emma. She is looking down at the edge of the street we just crossed.
“Only for right now Baby. If the wind changes, it will dance down the street again.” I say trying to ease her disappointment a bit.
She smiles back at me. Her gloom and grumps now completely gone.
After seeing them safely to the schoolyard, making sure I get my goodbye hugs and reminding them to be good on there last day, I start for home.
The bumpy ice crunches under my feet. The wind stings my face. I wave to a teacher as she makes one of the last turns before arriving at school herself. I miss my kids and their happy chatter.
Now I watch the snow dance by myself. The wind has turned light snow into chaos. But it’s beautiful to watch. Almost mesmerizing. I take my phone out again and snap a picture. A simple way to try to hold on to this feeling, to remember. Even amid the unknown, even fear, there is still beauty.
©Mary Grace van der Kroef 2020