Snow day

It snowed again last night. Washington treats a little snow like the end of the world. In fact, last December's giant snowfall was affectionately dubbed the "snowpocalypse." The city grinds to a screeching halt. Literally. The above-ground stations on the metro freeze. Everything on your agenda is suddenly cancelled - 7-year-old birthday blow-outs, brunch, a company Christmas party.

But rather than enjoying the unexpected day off, being stuck at home because of snow quickly loses its appeal. The kids don't have the appropriate snowsuits. You don't own any sleds. And the snow isn't packed down enough to make sledding on it any fun anyway. This is what happens when snow is a phenomenon and not a fact of life.

The other unappealing thing about being snowed in here is that because I pay for my own heat, I'm never warm enough at home. Unlike the Moscow experience of finding the correct balance of open windows to offset the stifling, dry warmth, I now obsess over finding the correct balance of sweats and blankets. Sitting in front of the tv, for example, requires different layering than being in the kitchen with the oven on.

I grew up in Alabama, and remember with amazing clarity the year our pool froze and my brother walked on it. As a child, I wished fervently every year that visiting my grandparents in Kentucky would result in a white Christmas. Five years of Russian winters later, I dream of never having to see a snowflake again - at least not in a city that doesn't own a flotilla of snowplows or employ an army of street sweepers yet never cancels school.

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