Building Your Word Power: Sastruga

Over the years, I’ve posted photos of one of my favorite winter phenomena and a couple of years ago, blogger Sandra, from A Corner of Cornwall, told me there was a fancy name for it!

Sastruga (pl. sastrugi) It means: “ridges of snow formed on a snowfield by the action of the wind.”

When the wind screams off the lake, it sculpts the snow into constantly changing shapes . . . sastrugi.

Some are subtle.

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Some are gorgeous, sinuous, and flashy.IMG_3303

It may look like striations in rock

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Or waves of water, breaking

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Or just plain peculiar . . .

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This was from earlier this week. Those “duck bills” have an overhang of at least a foot!

Sastruga–A new word for you–you’ll need to use it three times, in a sentence, to make it your own . . .

Would you ever have a need for such a word, in your neck of the woods?

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The Perfect Day . . .

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Did you grow up where the winters are frigid, the snow falls sideways, and the local weather forecasters’ voices rise in excitement when they discuss the next storm?

If not, I pity you. Really—you just don’t know about the perfect day.

Ask anyone who was once a 10-year-old in the northern United States—the absolute perfect day is a snow day.

The uninitiated may not even know the concept. A snow day, my friends, is a day when you thought you had to go to school, take the math quiz, hand in your spelling homework, and eat congealed Spanish rice in the cafeteria, but, instead . . . you get to stay home!

Snow days are free days. Days that come out of nowhere, where all the normal rules are suspended.

No school. No backpack full of books, no standing in sub-zero temps, waiting for the school bus to come.

A day full of empty hours to fill with laziness, with daytime TV, a foray outside to make snow angels, hot chocolate waiting when you get back in. Maybe your mom turns on the oven—it helps keep the house warm, after all—and bakes cookies.

The decision about when to declare a snow day was always made by a grownup and grownups, it seems, are hesitant to give in to the weather. Have they forgotten how happy a snow day made them, all those years ago, when they were little?

When I was a kid, the grownup who made the snow day decisions for our rural school district was none other than  . . . my father. He was the head bus driver and business manager of the school, and we lived as far from the school as anyone in the district. We also lived way up on a hill. The feeling was that, if Don Sanger could make it to school, anyone else could.

And Don Sanger always thought he could make it to school. He was not one to let a few feet of snow slow him down!

It was a heavy burden to bear. My sister and I would plead and beg for him to call a snow day. He’d go out to check the conditions and we would wait, hardly breathing, for him to come back, even though we knew what he was going to say.

No big deal. No snow day needed.

Then we’d all manage to get to school and our friends would harass us . . . why couldn’t we have convinced out father to be more reasonable, to give us kids a perfect day?

It seems that schools are much more likely to bow to the weather these days, much more willing to err on the side of safety and tell people to stay home. I wonder if the kids appreciate snow days as much as we did, when they get so many of them?

The funny thing is that, once you’ve known the joy of snow days, that feeling seems never to leave you.

I’ve been retired, lo, these many years and, thinking logically, every day is a snow day now. My days are always my own. I never have to eat cafeteria Spanish rice again. Snow days should have no meaning for me.

But then comes a day like today, where all the local schools have cancelled classes because it snowed and the winds are going to gust 40 miles an hour, and the windchill factor is going to be something like 40-below-zero Fahrenheit.

In my heart, this is still the perfect day. I have an ironclad excuse not to go anywhere, not to the post office, not to the assisted living center where my mom lives, not to the store, or the dump.

And, in staying home, I will feel free, even freer than usual, to do *exactly* as I please. The “shoulds” of vacuuming or listing new items on Etsy will be put aside because it’s a snow day! I’ll read for pleasure, I’ll nap, I’ll turn my hands to whatever I choose at the moment.

Maybe we’ll go out and shovel snow. Maybe we’ll come in to hot chocolate. Maybe I’ll turn on the oven and bake cookies . . . it’ll help keep the house warm, after all.

Don Sanger’s little girl loves a snow day . . .