I’ve been missing Michigan more and more over the last few weeks. I think a lot of it has to do with this being my first Christmas away. No grandparents, no tree, no keeflers, no cousins, and worst of all, no snow. While Northern Michigan is buried under its whitest winter in years, I’ve been strolling to school in balmy 50 degree temperatures under sunny skies. (Stop, please, I can feel your sympathy from here.) Pleasant, sure, but never cursing at the weather just didn’t feel right. That’s why I’m happy to report that on Sunday afternoon it started to snow, and by Monday morning the whole town was snowed in. I woke up to a phone call from our co-teacher informing us that it was a snow day. We still had to come in, but there would be no kids and no classes!
The walk to school was amazing and surreal, the way it always is after a big snow. Everybody was walking in the road, since most of the cars were still buried and the sidewalks were impassable. Koreans carry umbrellas in the snow, which made for some great people watching. Once we got to school we saw little groups of male teachers working to clear the driveway up to school. Mike started getting excited about the prospect of helping, and I crossed my fingers, hoping for the one other woman that would make it socially acceptable for me to help too. And there she was! Thanks, female technology teacher! We dropped off our bags and picked up shovels and spent the next hour working in the sunshine. A few other women even came out to help, though they didn’t last long. Around 10:00am the principal came out to thank everybody and assure me (the last lady standing) that I could go inside now. Mike got to stay out for another half an hour.
After everybody came in, we headed downstairs for tofu, kimchi, dumplings and makalee (sweet rice wine). The principal AND the vice principal each poured me a glass, thanked me (in English, even!), and drank with me. Mike got the same treatment, and then we all took photos together, which turned into taking photos of everyone, which quickly degenerated into the who-can-ruin-the-most-photos-by-snow-balling-the-subject game. The whole day had a playful, fun atmosphere, and I think that it was kind of a bonding experience. I felt a lot closer to the other teachers, especially without the kids around.
The work day was officially over around noon, so Mike and I dropped our stuff off at home and ventured out to see the city and finish some Christmas shopping. This city has the most beautiful light, especially in the morning and evening. We took loads of photos…some are below, and some over on Mike’s blog. Enjoy! And if I don’t speak to you before the big day, have a very Merry Christmas!