WINTER’S BACK BROKEN, OR WINTER’S BACK?

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WINTER’S BACK BROKEN, OR WINTER’S BACK?

The old timer’s used to say, on February 15th, that winter’s back was broken. I think it was a mix of fact, and hope, for the fact of the matter is that some of the worst storms in New England’s History hit between February 15th and Spring. For example, the Blizzard of 1888, with over four feet of snow in places, and drifts an amazing thirty to forty feet tall, hit on March twelfth.

The factual aspect of the old saying involves the fact the days are swiftly becoming longer. In Early January you barely notice the lengthening daylight, but now each day is nearly three minutes longer than the day before, and already the days are an hour and a half longer. Parents who pick up their children after getting off work at five no longer pick them up in darkness, at our Childcare.

In the depth of winter I build my big campfires as much for the light as I do for the radiant heat, and the kids cluster around the wavering orange flames even when the low sun is still up. I now notice the children are not so attracted to the blaze. The sun is higher, and when the wind dies you feel a genuine kindness in its rays.

In New Hampshire the kinder sun causes the first sprouting of the spring: Buckets sprout from the side of sugar maple trees. (The kids like sipping the sap from my buckets, behind my back.)

However you can only feel the sun’s kindness when it is out. February can also bring weeks with the sun seen little at all, and deep snows. In the old days this caused a droning noise to echo from the hills, because there used to be a rope tow on every steep hill, as a migration occurred up from Massachusetts during their winter vacation. In New Hampshire there was no vacation during that week, for everyone was working to cater to the influx of skiers. It was the week after Massachusetts’s school’s had their winter vacation that New Hampshire, in a state of semi-exhaustion, had its vacation.

All those tiny ski areas have shut down, due to the dangers of those old rope tows, which were sometimes run on an old Model T Ford’s engine, and also the expense of liability insurance, but New Hampshire’s school vacation still occurs the week after Massachusetts. What this means for Childcare along the border is: Total Confusion.

Ever since the Housing Bubble ended and the economy went in the tank, we have had fewer construction workers as customers, for they no longer work 12-hour days, and often are lucky to have work at all. Instead we have many more taxpayer-funded employees, including many schoolteachers. Half work in Massachusetts and half in New Hampshire, so half have their vacation one week and half the other. In some cases the parents have their vacation one week and the children the other. The resulting logistics tends to leave me cross-eyed.

In my heart of hearts I feel the more time children spend with their parents the better, and I’m never sorry when a parent can be at home and no longer needs us, though I do miss the kids when they leave. Because of this philosophy my wife and I attempt to make it more possible for parents to vacation with their children. Where most Childcares make their customers pay for the week, even if the family is off on vacation, we let them off the hook when we can. In some cases it is the difference between a family being able to afford the vacation and not.

To make up for the lost income we have other children in, just for the vacation week. As a result, our routine, (which children in some ways crave, even though they often seem to do everything possible to disturb it,) is in turmoil. Also the social chemistry of children interacting with children has new ingredients. All is topsy-turvy, and even if there isn’t a snowstorm there can be storms of other sorts, if we aren’t vigilant.

Vacations aren’t vacations for us, and, (after scientifically observing parents and children,) I don’t really think vacations are really restful for parents either. This is not to say we shouldn’t have them, but after most vacations most people need a vacation.

By the first of March winter’s back may not be broken, but just about everyone else’s is.

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