Sunday, January 20, 2008

Snow Day in Baghdad?!

As someone who grew up in a small town in Iowa about twenty miles west of the Mississippi, the phrase "snow day" has an evocative, magical ring to it. A "snow day" was a day on which the amount of snow that had fallen through the previous night was so great that the road plows wouldn't be able to clear all the streets in time for us to walk or ride to school. Even today I can summon the joy I felt upon waking on one of those snow days from my childhood. We could often predict, in fact, how much snow had fallen the night before by the quality of quiet outside our windows. Snow acts as an absorber and silencer of sounds; the more snow that falls the quieter it becomes. Still in our pajamas in bed, we would sit up, listen for how quiet it was, and then leap out of bed and race to the window to pull aside the curtains. Good glorious snow! On those highly anticipated days, a high blanket of white snow lay over the entire neighborhood.

We didn't waste much time at the window, however. After eating breakfast and waiting for the official announcement of a snow day from our parents, we would then dress for a day of fun and, more importantly, no school. Because it gets really cold in Iowa -- check the temperatures for Iowa today, if you want some idea of how frigid it can get -- we would have to dress accordingly: double pairs of socks, double pairs of blue-jean pants, a T-shirt and a couple sweatshirts, heavy snow-boots, an insulated coat of some kind usually with a hood, a pair of thick gloves (sometimes two), and on our heads the ubiquitous three-hole stocking cap: two holes for your eyes and one hole for your mouth. The area by the mouth and nose, by the way, would usually be covered with icicles at the end of the day from your warm breath meeting the cold air outside. Once dressed, we would head directly to the garage to pull out our sleds and toboggans and run to meet our friends who were also emerging from the nearby houses. And thus our day of liberation would begin.

Last Friday, on January 11, 2008, as most of you know, of course, for the first time in living memory for Iraqis, snow fell on Baghdad. Many of the Iraqi bloggers commented on the strange event. I especially liked "Let it snow!!" by Marshmallow 26, who had been sent a text message from her fiance down in Baghdad to tell her that it was snowing in Baghdad:
It was 6:30 am the next day, dad was fixing to go out for hunting, and I was covered by two thick blankets and a quilt, I heard dad was mumbling but didn't care. I got back to bed hid my head under my pillow and went to sleep again, I woke up at 9 am and got an SMS from my fiancé telling me that he is witnessing snow in Baghdad!! What? I couldn't believe at first, Baghdad?? No way? since when?

Then I got up and went down stairs, dad was having breakfast! what's up dad? why are you still here? Did you miss the ride? No daughter I woke up earlier while it was raining and then snowing!! we?? Not only Baghdad?? Great!! Let me check... I looked through the window,yeah !!!!!!!!!!!! my eyes were captivated by that spellbinding scene, snow, the smell of the Iraqi tea arising from a hot kettle on the stove, , and warmth inside my house...I couldn't dream of any better, could I! that is what I was waiting for...

But hey, it was like a jail all day long at the house. We couldn't go out cuz the street were muddy. Hmm, lets see what else I can do?? YES!! Marsho always comes up with something interesting! I asked dad if he is willing to take us to Sullymania; the northern city on the next day! Dad thought about it for a little bit and then he said OK...

On the next day: the weather was just perfect, the sun was shining brightly and we were ready to roll...almost two hours of driving and we reached Sullymania.
If you'd like to see some of the photos she snapped on the way to Sulaimaniyah, check out her blog entry. Here are a couple other photos I found on the internet from that day:

This photo reminds me of my childhood. Iraqi girls enjoy playing in snow in Sulaimaniyah, 260 kilometers (160 miles) northeast of Baghdad, Iraq on Friday, Jan. 11, 2008.

You've probably seen this photo before, but it's still worth looking at. An Iraqi man and his child enjoy light snow fall in eastern Baghdad, Iraq on Friday, Jan. 11, 2008.

I don't know if the snow in Baghdad was enough to cancel school and create a real "snow day," but the smiles on many of the Iraqi faces in the photographs above reveal some of the same joy we kids in the Midwest felt on those joyous days of reprieve from school and outdoor fun.

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HOUSEKEEPING NOTE: I have finally gotten around to doing some much-needed clean-up on the blogroll. For the "Iraqi Bloggers (Active)" list, I removed any blog that hasn't posted in the last three months and placed them into the "Iraqi Bloggers (Inactive)" group, which you can now find at the bottom of the blogroll. I then moved the "Blogs of Interest" up to just below "Iraqi Bloggers (Active)" because they are usually the ones I go to after a spin through the Iraqi blogosphere. I'm not finished yet, but today I've made a good start. Expect a few more changes to the blogroll over the next day or so.

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