Back to school! Back to school, to prove to Dad that I’m not a fool! I got my lunch packed up, my boots tied tight, I hope I don’t get in a fight! Ohhhh, back to school! – Billy Madison
I find myself feeling nostalgic this back to school week. It’s not because I miss school (though my continued enrollment in night classes might make you think differently), but I miss being a part of the end of summer transition.
As a child I was never excited for the “learning” part of back to school, (at least not that I would have admitted) but there’s something exciting about putting an official end to summer – in all its silliness, laziness, and un-coveredness – and starting fresh. When else in life do we get a fresh start year after year?
With all that said, I don’t actually remember much from the first day of school. But in typical Canadian style, I remember the weather.
By Labour Day in the Yukon it’s fall. There’s almost always frost at night, and it has snowed on my birthday at least once. Those chilly fall mornings turned to freezing winter mornings. What I remember most is recess on winter days.
The really cold days were organized by colours. “Blue days” meant we could stand inside the doors every 20 minutes and warm up. “Red days” were brutally cold (below -30 I think), and we were mostly allowed to stay inside… as long as we walked a lap around the school first.
If you’ve spent any time in -30/40/50 degree weather you know it’s well beyond just cold. As you breathe in, the air bites your lungs and they ache. It smells different, smells cold. All the other scents in the world have been frozen and all that remains is air.
It’s too cold for clouds on those days too. What’s left is brilliant sun on the sparking, white snow. The only thing I miss about the North is the sun. And on those miserable, biting, cold days, there’s sun.