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Snowbird And Bill

Mrs. Phillips recognizes we aren't completing any work today, so she rolls the projector in to keep us engaged. Movie time never occurs in her class, so we all know there is a genuine chance we'll be going home early. The lights go out, and the gentle hum from the machine follows the click of the on/off switch. The film works its way through the maze, gaining steam until our movie appears like magic on the brick wall.

Word on the street is that there is an enormous snowstorm spiraling into Montgomery county. All of the students are delighted in anticipation of Mrs. Gaither saying the welcomed words over the intercom. The Love Bug may be fine entertainment, but almost everyone's attention is on the window. Each kid in the room wants to be the first to shout out snow when the flakes begin to make their way to earth.

No one has made a sighting, but we immediately notice bright yellow school busses stretching through the parking lot. The familiar pop from the loudspeaker signals an urgent message, "Teachers, please dismiss your students at this time." You'd of thought we were experiencing a home team touchdown by the cheers bursting throughout Cumberland Heights. Everyone lines up and heads to the front door, thrilled to leave three hours early.

I'm optimistic we'll get a good dose of the white wet stuff, but others on the bus insist it'll never happen, and we'll be back at it tomorrow. If the forecast is correct, a guaranteed three days off is in our future because today is already Thursday. God tends to get my most sincere prayers under these types of circumstances. Each time the door opens to let an eager child bust through, the polar gust attacks to ensure my prayers do not go unnoticed.

Finally, I'm home and ready for a bit of rest and relaxation. Mom has other plans for my early arrival as she points out the empty wood boxes inside and tells me I'm the perfect candidate to fill them up. Outdoor, we have a mountain of lumber up against the house covered with a tarp. We transfer it inside whenever the crates get empty. It's not how I had planned to spend my mini-vacation, but if we want to stay warm, I'd better get to work.

Once I finish the job, I take a moment to admire my significantly overstacked accomplishment. The containers aren't full unless the wood reaches the ceiling. This particular technique guarantees more free time in between chores. My mother invites me into the cozy kitchen for a hot bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese prepared with love. A string of gooey Velveeta stretches from my toasted bread to the thick red concoction when I tear some off to give it a dunk. Suddenly, my favorite weatherman, Bill Hall, delivers an unwelcome word.

It looks like the naysayers on the bus could have been correct. Bill just told me the storm would barely miss middle Tennessee, but we aren't in the clear. He's a good man because he always gives me hope. A chance is all I need to keep the dream alive until I hear from the Snowbird report in the morning. The sky through the kitchen window doesn't show a sign yet, but it smells like snow. My dad would always tell me he could smell it in the air, and he was always right.

After a solid night's sleep, I awake with a mission. There's no sign of snowfall outside, so my next source of information is the small black and white television in the kitchen. Ralph Emery is on, as usual, the Soap Sisters are singing, and nothing seems to be out of the ordinary. "Momma, have you heard anything yet?" I asked on the way to the bathroom. "Nope, you better get ready for school," she says in the distance as I close the door behind me. Disappointment stares back at me through the medicine cabinet mirror above the sink while I say another earnest prayer.

"Chris, it's Snowbird," Mom screams from the other side of the house. Ripping through rooms like the Dukes running from Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane, I join Mom in the den. My face lights up as Mr. Hall points at the map and presents the news I desperately need to hear. School is closed? School is closed! Yes! I love you, Bill, and I love you, Snowbird! My eyes shift to the window in anticipation, only to realize nothing has fallen. Grabbing up my heavy coat, I head outside.

A rush of arctic air slices through my shirt before I'm able to zip up tight. Beads of ice strike my face like a million tiny angel kisses flung from Heaven. I expose the camouflaged precipitation by looking away from the white sky to concentrate on a nearby Spruce. The deep green backdrop affords the perfect frame for Mother Nature's display. A solitary snowflake as large as my hand sways back and forth, drifting silently to the glaciated ground. Finally, an opaque quilt covers any imperfections and charges me with the thrill of a weekend of adventure.

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