Thursday, January 25, 2007

Neige in Lege!

The kids are still sick. They haven't been to school all week, and will likely not make it back there until next Monday. One of the consequences of this is that I'm sleeping in the guest room while the our room has become sick bay for the rest of the family.
Last night, Beth was reading in bed to the kids. Outside it was raining cats and dogs. Then at a certain point Tess lifted her head and said, "It stopped." Sure enough the rain had stopped. We thought nothing more of it until this morning. I was in the shower when I was hailed by excited voices. I was surprised because everyone is usually still in bed by the time I leave for work, but I hustled out of the shower...Here's the reason for all the excitement.
As you can see it's still dark out ... the kids, germs and all, were energized by the sight of snow, perhaps it reminded them of home? They were dresse and outside quicker than you could say bonhomme de neige and they set right to work on making one, a snowman that is.

My heart skipped a beat as I thought to myself, snow day? (translation: no school?). My second thought was, silly man, you're not in Kansas anymore. I thought about calling one of my colleagues but then I decided to show my true grit, get in the car and brave the road conditions. My biggest fear was sharing the snowy roads with the French equivalent of Portland drivers. The radio was full of reports about how Bordeaux was paralyzed, no trains, no buses, no tram, no school buses (not the same thing as no school as I would soon find out). Indeed the highway had rutted snow on it and while it wasn't anything I hadn't seen a thousand times before, there wasn't a whole lot of margin for foolishness.

When I got to the lycee at a quarter to eight I saw the head custodian, Patrique, sweeping snow from in front of the entrance to the administration office (priorities) with a broom. I went over to him and gave him a hard time about the broom, telling we had shovels and even snowblowers in America. He laughed good naturedly.
There were only four teachers in the salle des profs. I asked them if school would be closed. They all shrugged. One of them said something to the effect, today we're just functionaries drawing our pay. They told me that the buses might not run but for school to close it had to be a real emergency. C'est la garderie alors... keeping kids warm and safe and probably little more than that. The tests I had scheduled for today would have to wait. I had two kids first period (Terminale). We talked about life, what their plans for next year were...tranquil. Next class (Seconde) I had eight. We played pendu (hangman) in English. Ditto the next period (also Secondes) where we had six. My next class (Premiere) nobody showed up. I sat in the room and corrected papers...tranquil.
In between classes I caught a glimpse of the same kind of energy I had left at home - kids making and throwing snowballs... it was funny, the proviseur and the surveillants were frowning full time but you could tell that their efforts to put down the snowball fights were massively undermined by one simple fact known to one and all ... this may never happen again. And so the snowballs flew... you had to keep your head about you. One group of secondes invited me to participate in a giant snowball building effort but I opted to go home for lunch instead.
According to everyone I talked to it has been many many years since snow fell here, and even longer since it stuck around for the whole day. I came home at 1:30 for lunch. The drive was beautiful, I could have been in Oregon or New England. Brilliant sunlight, blue skies, snow lined branches glinting, the world stylized in white and black.

The big worry here is that the temperature is falling and we'll be stuck with icy roads right around rush hour when the whole world comes home from Bordeaux.

This is fun...we'll no doubt remember this snowfall for a long time even though it'll probably be gone before the weekend.


Anonymous erin said...

Thanks for reminding me that I like snow! Right now, our snowbanks are taller than I am. The city is running out of places to put it. Your photos are wonderful, and I hope everyone is well soon!

2:28 AM  

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