The trouble with TV is that when you're snowed in, you know all about it the night before.
What fun is that? You should try waking up with wild sunrise after an all-night blizzard to a gleaming the white world where even out of the bedroom window you can see Norton road is completely drifted over and long before your mother phones the school you know it's just got to be closed.
We had a radio at the farm, but it never occurred to us to learn about the weather from it. We had the weather right there all around us. My father called Red Wester, the biggest man west of Schenectady, to come over and plow our drive, but he said he couldn't do it until the roads were cleared.
What the heck, we could do it ourselves, I said, and preety soon, afire with purpose, padded with wool on the outside and oatmeal on the inside, I started to work. The drive was 100 yards long, and the snow had drifted a good four feet deep across it. It was a dazzling day, cold enought to make your nostrils crack. I cleared about five feet, then settled for a narrow waldway to the mailbox.
Lunchtime. My sister and I scrambled into the kitchen, faces flaming, palms atingle from our leather mittens. We tore into the waffles and Uncle Nick's maple syrup, milk from the Guernsey cow Millie, our own preserved tomatoes. There is no feeling quite so profoundly comfortable aing snowed in: food in the pantry, as fire crackling in the library, no school, no errands downtown, no outside world at all.
There is also no feeling quite so dis- appointing as that first sight of the big steel-winged state plows forging victoriously up Norton Road, soon to be followed by Red Wester rattling down the driveway on his tractor.
Still, we had the afternoon. Red had left a giant eight-foot-high wall the length of the drive, climaxed by a huge pyramid of snow where it met the road. We started tunneling instinctively, without a word. By sundown we had created a 30-foot crawlway, frighteningly claustrphobic, ending in a chamber we could stand up in, its carefully sculpted ceiling so near the surface that blue light shone through. Our mother refused to go in and see.
Eventually the dog attacked it when he heard us scrabbling inside and caved it all in, but by then we didn't care.
The afternoon faded. The sky turned yellow-gray, and soon the snow was pocked with blue shadows. A wind rose, spuming fine snow off the crests of the drifts. Everyone else had gone in. My wrists were raw from the ittle ice balls that hung from the elastic wrists of my mittens. Inside my galoshes, whose frozen buckles would have to be pried open, my heavy socks were soaked. My cheeks were numb and my ears smarted.
Off in the desolate pasture behind the barn. I found a natural foxhole among some drifts and became a Fiinnish soldier fighting the Russians on the steppes. I charged forward and was shot and fell dying in the purple wilderness, the driven snow quickly crusting my outflung sleeves.
No, I wasn't dying, I was rescuing somebody, but first I had to be dying and than I would rescue myself. Then I was dying again, and my English teacher was there bending over me with her soft brown eyes and disturbing knitted dress. No, she was dying. She had tried to rescue me when I was dying and she had got hit by a Russian sniper (me, on the other side of the drift), and now she was whispering last words to me while I bent over her, but I had to do it all over again because I had a better idea for the last words.
Suddenly I noticed it was night, and the blizzard was whistling across the slopes just as it had the night before. I struggled back to the house, set my mittens on the hall radiator where they would drip onto the floor and curl into crusted claws, peeled off the wet, chafing clothes and slipped into corduroya and a wool shirt.
Pretty soon we would have supper, and after that we would be in the library with the fire while my mother read aloud from Ethel Vance's thriller "Escape."
And maybe it would snow all night again and the roads would fill up and the school buses wouldn't start and Red Wester couldn't come and we wouldd be snowed in . . . .