I knew there was a snow storm heading our way, but I hadn’t processed the depth of it until I was standing in my kitchen with a mug in one hand and my cell phone in the other. My pulse hastened, my eyes widened and I hadn’t even sipped my coffee yet.
Twenty-two inches is what my screen was reporting. This isn’t a powder day, this is a snow day. What’s the difference between the two?
Powder Days occur when snowfall adds up to an adequate amount to stir joy in the hearts of snow enthusiasts. For most Utah locals this might be around the seven or eight inch mark and Ski Utah recognizes a Utah Powder Day with 12 inches. Snow Days surpass that benchmark a few times over to the point they cause a major slowing or stopping in the overall day-to-day operations of a city. Powder Days bring joy, Snow Days explode euphoria from the heavens.
As a child who grew up in Colorado, I’m all too familiar with snow days. Panic would force my eyelids open as my body registered I’d overslept. Dressed in superhero pajamas, I’d make my way to the top of the stairs where I’d be greeted by the aroma of bacon. My mema would glance up the stairs and with a smile say, “It’s a snow day!”
No school! Instead of the efficient breakfast of cereal and milk, there’d be a quality spread of eggs, bacon and homemade pancakes. Once fully fueled, layers went on, sleds came out, friend groups united and our neighborhood became an epicenter of happiness as we played outside until dinnertime.
Looking at my phone, I felt that same unbridled joy of my childhood even if I was going to have to cook my own breakfast. As I sorted the ingredients for the most important meal of the day, my attention-hungry phone chimes again.
Twenty two inches? I can’t believe Utah is getting this much snow! reads a text from my fiancé, Rashelle. She was texting me from her gate at Seatac airport while waiting to fly home. With all the enthusiasm I could convey through words, emojis and excessive punctuation I filled her in on my plans for this excessive snowfall. She loves me, so she’s okay with my plans not including her. I also love her and realized I’d much rather these plans were more dialogue than monologue. Reassessing as a team, we revamped my plan to include her. We were banking on road closures, powder stashes and free refills to make this a deep day for both of us.
Remember the definition of a Snow Day? It’s around this time “a major slowing or stopping in the overall day-to-day operations of a city” come into play.
10:31 am: I’m so excited. Can you bring me coffee?
10:41 am: Wow they said SLC is not accepting flights right now
12:40 am: Sorry I’m so delayed, taking off finally!
2:23 pm: Landed.
2:37 pm: They are digging the jetway out with shovels.
2:41 pm: Wow you might need to go without me. They just said the jetway is frozen.
At 3:07 pm, Rashelle was finally through her commute once she stepped off of the curb at Salt Lake City International Airport and into our car.
Utah’s mountains are arguably the most accessible in the nation; from airport to lift line in around thirty minutes. Even with this profound advantage, as we left Salt Lake City International Airport, we had to face the rest of our day with a realistic mindset. In normal conditions, the drive would be around thirty minutes, but these weren’t normal conditions. This was a snow day. Best case scenario, the drive would take closer to 40 or 45 minutes with lifts closing before our engine could cool. Rashelle’s body relaxed into a defeated posture, her efforts to change into snow gear in the cramped front seat feeling like they were in vain.
The love of my life, my fiancé and dream girl wasn’t born and raised in Colorado, nor Utah. Rashelle is from California. In fact, she hadn’t seen snow until she met me. Having never experienced a snow day in her life, Rashelle doesn’t know the thrills aren’t exclusive to resorts. I gave her a reassuring smile and aimed our car in the direction of Eastwood Elementary.
We could hear the sounds of a quality snow day as we crested the steep hill south of the school. Laughter and screams harmonized with the tempo of slow falling snow. Kids had gathered with sleds and smiles that the cold colored in a variety rosy hues. Rashelle’s energy perked with curiosity, her optimism in our day revived. With boards under our arms, we joined the mass of people (mostly kids) who were finding large amounts of joy on a little hill.
We laughed and lapped the hill well into the darker hours. We jumped off a small kicker some kids had built and landed into soft, forgiving snow. We even managed to make new friends. For most of my life I’ve heard the phrase, “When life gives you lemons…”. This winter in Utah we rebranded it to be, “When life gives you two feet of fresh snow, make a snow day.”
(This information will not be shared)