Stopping By Woods On a Snowy Evening So I Don’t Lose My Mind

Robert Frost wrote “Stopping By Woods On a Snowy Evening” in the 1920s. The fourth stanza:
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

What you might not know about Frost’s poem is that he wrote this while his children were home on what would otherwise be a school day, but the snowflakes started falling, and, well, we all know what that means: “Everybody, go home.”
So Frost took a little walk to break free from what still happens today during weather events — pandemonium alternating with general malaise, goals of quality family time tainted by exhaustion and boredom. In fact, the last two lines of this stanza were originally “And miles to go before I sleep, Then I’ll pack my bags without a peep.”
“Snowy Woods” was a commentary on fulfilling obligations vs. seeking solitude — two things in utter contrast on a Snow Day. Reconciling the two is, well, a little impossible. Sure, you need to keep your family warm and safe and fed and entertained, but your sanity is sort of worth something, too. Cabin fever can be a terrible, terrible thing. I don’t care how great a mom or dad you think you are.
You could feel the poetry in the air when we settled down Friday night to watch movies before a crackling fire. Among the movies available at the public library in Hour Two of the winter storm were Camp Rock and Yours, Mine & Ours (the Dennis Quaid version). As night fell, the movies began and the flood lights illuminated the white lawn, a kid decided to throw up, sending everyone in the room in different directions until the matter was under control. Within minutes, the coast was clear, and everyone resumed their TV viewing and eating with their mouths open and arguing over the remote and doing all those things that get on nerves a little too easily. If only I had put pen to paper…
The Frost home was no different that night when “Stopping By Woods” was penned. Robert Frost had about enough of the Snow Day nonsense, the spilled popcorn and the whining, and he took a stroll, all the while looking over his shoulder toward the house. He didn’t intend to leave for good; he simply needed a break. And he didn’t want to be found. The bells on the horse (described earlier in the poem) weren’t really bells at all. The jingle he heard was his own mind, mocking him, taunting him, telling him to run for the hills until warmer temperatures and cooler heads prevailed.

Having spent much of his life in New England, Robert Frost was no stranger to snow. "Those blasted Snow Days," he often told packed auditoriums, "were nearly the death of me. A man can take only so much. Bad movies, bad attitudes. It was maddening."

We don’t live in New England. We live in the deep South. So I use the term “winter storm” in the most liberal way.
There was snow. And it fell to the ground.
That’s our winter storm. We survived.
This is our scrapbook.

A Coleman canoe, purchased for $100 from a widow on a country road 20 years ago, has served us well, as such a watercraft has many uses. Negotiating a downhill slope of hardwoods is not one of them. Note the empty seats. This is a failed attempt--an attempt that was aborted following a hard hit and a few choice words. The luge looks so easy on TV.

When school is dismissed due to weather events, we do a stellar job of breaking things, like bird feeders. (See child at right, who is busily repairing a terra cotta bird feeder that crashed to the ground, thanks to an epic snowball the size of a walnut.)

See that tree house? That is reportedly where my husband spent most of the weekend, ignoring our pleas of "Don't you want to come inside? Figure skating is on. Honey? Are you out there?"

I'm not sure what's at play here, but I suspect high jinks. You may recognize this patio from the pages of Southern Living, which featured hanging kayaks and kids' riding toys as the hottest "outdoor living" accessories for 2010. If the kid on the right had moved slightly to the left, you would see two central a/c units, heavily burdened with dryer lint, which blows directly from the outside vent to the a/c coils. You say "architectural design flaw." I say "genius."

And finally, what's a Snow Day without making a few new friends? This Snowbaby came into the world early in the afternoon, when moods were cheery and creativity was at a high...and long before the vomiting began. He stood watch over the snowy woods, lovely, dark and deep. But snowmen enjoy a short life span here in the deep South. As with everything else that goes bad around here, we blame the fried food and warm temperatures.