February 16, 2007

Snow Days Allow Sledding

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As of yesterday, there were exactly 100 days left until my Cornell graduation day. That’s not a lot of time to squeeze in all the things I have yet to experience as an undergraduate in Ithaca, ranging from a visit to Fuertes Observatory, to playing a game of beer pong with Fleishmann’s.

But on Wednesday, something happened that I had left off my list. An event so fantastic that I never thought it could happen — something unheard of in my time on the East Hill, a day that rolls around only once in eight years, apparently, since the last time it happened was on March 4, 1999.

Cornell declared a snow day.

No class! No trips to the gym! No obligations or responsibilities whatsoever, except to sit around and relax. Which Cornell students did full throttle, since I heard the liquor store was packed shortly after the announcement that classes would end at 12:05 p.m.

It sent us all spiraling back in time to our glory days — not of high school athletic achievements, but earlier, to the days in elementary school when a snow day meant hours of games and fun outdoors. Just ask nine-year-old Reagan Manz.

“We’re hoping for 365 days off from school,” he told The Associated Press earlier this week. “We could go sledding the whole time and not get bored.”

Which is exactly how I felt. And I wasn’t alone, judging from what I saw on the streets of Collegetown and heard about all over campus. Whether on traditional plastic sleds, saucers, lunch trays, improvised cardboard sheets or even laundry baskets, Cornellians took to the Slope and the streets of Collegetown.

Before Wednesday night, I just regarded Cook street as a steep, one-way inconvenience, a pavement peak I would go to great lengths to find my way around. But under a foot-plus of white fluffy winter wonderfulness, Cook street was a sledder’s dream. Over and over again, my friends and I would take a running start across College Avenue, throw ourselves face-first onto a plastic sled, and go hurtling belly-first down the slippery slope, screaming into the winter night as we rocketed over bumps and lumps in the street and bailing out before we hit the cars parked at the bottom of the hill.

Maybe it’s not exactly a traditional pastime for a 22-year-old, soon-to-be college graduate who should be more concerned with finding a job than building the perfect jump for her sled. But that was the beauty of it; for this one day and night, we got to leave all the regular Cornell concerns behind and just enjoy the winter wonderland that was dumped in our laps.

The Valentine’s Day blizzard caused power outages and stranded people all over the Northeast, even causing a few tragic deaths. But for me and every other student that took to a sled on Wednesday, it was an interruption of another kind. A chance for all of us to relax and revel in something that many of us thought we had left behind for good when we entered the relentless college cycle. It was the sweetest Valentine that Mother Nature could give us; a snow day, pure and simple, an unexpected gift to bring out the kid in all of us.