[Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now]
Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.
Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.
And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.
~ A.E. Housman
I woke up on Friday morning to my roommate leaning over her bed (we have bunk beds) and saying, “Look outside!”
I didn’t have my contacts in, and upon seeing just pure white outside the window, I rolled over, crammed a pillow over my head, and replied with, “Ugh. I don’t want to go anywhere.” Trudging around all day long in “freezing winter mix” as per the usual Nashville winter weather special was the last thing I wanted to do, and I pondered whether it would be acceptable for me to go to class wrapped in my blanket.
“We don’t have to go anywhere. We don’t have class. Did you not read your email?”
“What?” Pillow came off the head.
“Classes are canceled. It’s a snow day.”
I am convinced that, for a student on a Friday at 7am, there are few things more beautiful or lyrical or joyful in the English language than that sentence. Well, there’s “I love you” and anything by Pablo Neruda (and most of e.e. cummings’ poems also), but there’s dreaming and then there’s reality. And snow days? Well, they are that pretty magical cross between dreaming and reality – a whole blissful day with no obligations and hot chocolate, time to play in the snow, spending the whole day with friends, Bananagrams, starting Parenthood (and weeping already, first episode in), and just a whole lot of extra time in bed watching the snow fall outside. But nothing can beat that feeling in the morning and the excitement for all the spontaneous events about to unfold.
We made the most of our snow-day, with pancakes in the morning, snowman building and a snowball fight, then sledding and a couple card games in the afternoon, topped off with a good long nap and brownies. It was a constant putting-on-and-taking-off-every-layer-of-winter-gear-owned situation, coats and hats and scarves making their appearance and disappearance from outside our door on a fairly random basis, and we probably wouldn’t have had it any other way.
We book-ended each of our escapades out in the snow with hot chocolate, books, talking, and Bananagrams, and in the afternoon, I went for the most blissful wintery run that ended only when I couldn’t feel my fingers, nose, or toes anymore. How I love running in the snow. Not the ice. Never the ice. (Like today. The thing that bugs me, and I know I complain about this far too much, but Nashville really could avoid turning the entire city into a walking ice-rink. If they just plowed the streets in an efficient manner when the snow had just fallen and was still powdery and perfect for easily removing from the streets, then we wouldn’t have this problem that will now persist and haunt every pedestrian and car and pretty much everybody who lives in Nashville until the ice finally melts mid-March.) But the snow – when it’s packed down just slightly, and it’s still coming down a little bit; and when the wind isn’t blowing packs of snow, whirling and whooshing about, but when flakes are gracefully making their way onto drifts; and everything is silent and peaceful, blanketed in a perfect white – it doesn’t get much better than that for wintertime running.
I read this poem the other day for my Intro to Poetry class, and thought that it was so perfect for this weekend in a number of ways. The mention of snow in the last stanza and the imagery of tree limbs “hung with snow” rang true for Nashville blanketed in fresh snow. But more than that, it seemed to me a reminder to appreciate life as it happens and to make the most of the time that you have. Each season of life brings change and remembrance, growth and perhaps renewal – but it is, I believe, important not to take these “snow days,” and the beautiful memories that we made, for granted. I know I’ll remember this one for a long time. Happy Monday!