Sunday, February 7, 2010

Another Snow Day

The storm yesterday reminded me of another snowstorm a couple of years ago. In January of 2008, I traveled with a friend and colleague to Maine to spend a week observing at Nancie Atwell's school, The Center for Teaching and Learning. We arrived in Edgecomb on Sunday night, just ahead of a major Nor'easter, but we weren't concerned. My friend had had the foresight to rent a four wheel drive vehicle, and plus, this was Maine, we shrugged, surely they knew how to handle whatever snow there would be.

The next morning my cell phone rang. "This is Nancie Atwell," the voice on the line said. "Is this Tracey?" After getting over the initial shock of actually having Nancie Atwell herself call me, I realized that she was telling me that school was canceled that day because of the weather. She arranged to meet us for a couple of hours that morning anyway to go over the rest of the week. I couldn't decide if I was disappointed, relieved, or exultant... the joy of a Snow Day is a powerful thing.

At 10 AM when we left CTL, after having met Nancie and seen her school, the snow was falling fast. Faced with an unexpected free day, we set off in the storm in search of a late breakfast. The roads were terrible, but my friend navigated them admirably, and before too long we found ourselves on a nearly deserted Main Street in Damariscotta. A restaurant called The Breakfast Place seemed just right, and we parked in front and made our way inside. A cheerful group of rather grizzly Mainers was leaving as we came in, and those gentleman gave us a thumbs up as they passed.

Inside, we were the only customers, and the waitress led us to a table in the back that looked out over the water. Lobster boats bobbed on anchor buoys in the snow. I ordered a poached egg and crab cake on a homemade English muffin with coffee. There were Trivial Pursuit cards on the table, and we took turns quizzing each other until our breakfast arrived. The food was good, and our conversation wandered to books; my friend recounted the entire plot of Walk Two Moons right up until the end. There she paused. "Do you want to know what happens?" she asked, and I nodded, completely charmed by the story, by the setting, by the food, and by the company.

Back at our hotel, we spent the rest of our day talking about Atwell and her school and about teaching and teaching writing as the snow piled up and up. I didn't feel trapped at all-- the promise of the week ahead seemed as boundless as the expanse of drifts outside the sliding glass door and as long as the icicles that formed drip by drip on the overhang that sheltered it. And it was a good week, a great week, really, but in the end, my favorite part of it was the snow day.