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Whoopie! We finally got a real snowstorm! Although we have had some snow on the ground for about a month and we’ve seen plenty of cold temperatures in recent weeks, we hadn’t had a full-blown wind-whipped snowstorm all winter. Non-essential college personnel were sent home yesterday at 1:00 p.m. and the white stuff came down for most of the night. This morning we awoke to pristine whiteness and brilliant sunshine – so much light that sunglasses are a must. The wind packed the snow in drifts and banks with sculptural surface texture, and the birch tress and conifers break up the cloudless blue sky.
As for me, I didn’t venture out in the storm all day yesterday. In anticipation of the wintry weather, I left the office the day before armed with plenty of applications to read. I spent Valentine’s Day at home stoking the woodstove, watching the glorious snow coming down, and reading about the lives of students from Bombay to Bakersfield. We’re in Week 7 of the Reading Season, and while the intensity of reading all those applications is leaving some of us feeling a little ragged, there are always interesting bits that come to the surface as we open each folder. This year, for example, I’ve read two applications that included stories of the prospective students rescuing people from drowning. How does it feel to know that you’ve saved a life before you even hit your 18th birthday? Most applications don’t contain that kind of drama, but are no less interesting to read. I’ve come across a number of beautifully written tributes to family members: mothers, fathers, grandparents, even siblings. Bagpipers, curlers, music producers and beauty pageant winners mingle in the mounting pile at my feet with soccer players, yearbook editors, violinists and Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Looking out the window in front of me, chickadees fill up at the feeder; looking back down at the application on my desk, a tale unfolds of rebuilding efforts on the Gulf Coast. Every day that I read applications, I am reminded that there is a lot of talent spread out among high school students. Between the snow and the stories I encountered, yesterday was a very fine day.
There’s a sign on one of the chair lift towers at Sugarloaf noting that the snowiest months at that ski area are not December and January as one might think. This year, it came as a Valentine’s Day present.