Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Great White

Two weeks ago, under a dome of thick cloud-cover, I dropped Jack at his school at 7:45 a.m. There was talk of snow, but it was expected later in the day. If the National Weather Service declares a winter storm system is moving across Alabama at 3 p.m., you figure you have most of the day to do whatever it is you do until that happens—if it happens. I don't know what the forecasters saw on their screens, but I believe they did their best to let us know what was coming.

For days we struggled with this phenomenon. The conditions created terrible hardships for thousands of people. If my child had been stuck at his school, I would have been frantic. I was grateful that he could safely walk two blocks to his dad's house and enjoy the time off—and the white stuff—with his neighborhood friends. Some people were trapped in their offices. Others could not get to work and lost income. Cars and property were damaged. Stress and anxiety levels rose chiefly because this was a situation beyond our control. And many did what we do best when we are threatened: look for someone to blame.

In record time, the blame game began. The National Weather Service and local forecasters took the first wave of criticism. Others ranted against public officials, implying they were trying to downplay the hazard, much like Mayor Vaughn in the movie Jaws when he tries to keep the economy going despite the fact that a Great White is circling the shore. When bad things happen, we want to find someone to blame. But you can't blame the weather for being exactly what it is—unpredictable—anymore than you can blame a Great White shark for eating. You can, however, try to stay out of harm's way.

This week, another winter storm threat circled and the National Weather Service reported as best they could. Officials received the information and made the decision to close schools. Yesterday it rained. The threat remained. Schools were closed for a second day. Today, it rained again.

No snow. No school. No one to blame. In the middle of the week, in the middle of February, we're home together. Jack's not sick and he's not suspended for bad behavior. We've spent the last two days watching movies and building a Minecraft world out of paper blocks. We've slept in, talked and laughed and eaten scrambled eggs and bacon at noon. I might be getting more done if the weather was sunny and the schools were open, but I will never have this day—just as it is—again and I'm going to make the most of it.

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