When I was a kid, I wanted to live in Pecatonica.
I didn't know where it was.
But I did know they never went to school.
My younger sisters, Louisa, Kiki, and I, would listen to Clyde Coffee in the morning, while snuggled underneath our blankets. It was there that we prayed for Madison Public Schools to be included in his list.
It seldom was.
Just once.
And I got snapped at for riding around all afternoon with my boyfriend.
"If school is closed because of bad roads. Why would think it was a good idea to drive around?!"
Well, how could I have known?
I was sixteen.
And it was my first snow day.
I'm just glad I didn't mention anything else we did.
Now, even though Pecatonica begins with a P, it was always the first school on board to cancel.
"Just in," Clyde would say. "No school today for Pecatonica."
My eyes would pop.
Here we go.

"Please God. Please God. Please God," I would think.
"Pecatonica School is closed today," he would repeat.
The three of us would sit up and look back and forth at each other, hair in all directions, fingers crossed.
And then we would stare at the little white radio while Jim Morrison sang about people being strange and then heard about a friend named Jeremiah, who was a bullfrog.
Louisa would say something like, "They never close Madison Schools."
And then there would be a commercial.
I would say something like, "Yeah but, we got almost a foot!"
And then Kiki would say something like, "They've probably been out plowing all night."
"But almost a foot!" I would say.
After a lion slept in the jungle, Clyde would be back on the air.
This is when we held our breath.
"Okay everybody, more school closings and delays are in. So, listen up. Abbotsford,(closed) Cambridge,(closed) De Forest,(closed) Edgewood,(closed) Lodi,(two hour delay) Mazomanie,(closed) McFarland,(closed) Middleton,(two hour delay) Mount Horeb,(closed) New Glarus,(closed) New Lisbon, (closed)New London,(closed) Let's just say that all schools that begin with New are closed, Oregon,(two hour delay) Paoli,(closed) Pardeeville,(closed) Pecatonica,(closed) Portage,(closed) Poynette,(closed) River Valley,(closed) Sauk Prairie,(two hour delay) Stoughton,(closed) Sugar River,(closed) Sun Prairie,(closed) Wautoma,(closed) Wisconsin Dells (closed) and Wisconsin Heights(closed).
(Closed), (Closed) (Closed)."
And then that bastard would say with no remorse, "All Madison Public Schools are open today. I repeat, all Madison Public Schools are open."
And we were not supposed to swear.
Now, it didn't matter if there was just one school closing.
Or if there were fifty cancellations.
Pecatonica was always on the list.
And if they didn't have a snow day.
They would come up with a burst pipe.
I remember one time they announced a Pecatonica closing the night before.
"A snowflake has been spotted north of the Illinois border. Pecatonica High School will be closed tomorrow."
I have long since forgiven Clyde Coffee, God rest his soul.
And I have since learned that Pecatonica is not even a place to live.
It's a river.
Which makes it surprising that they ever held class at all.
And Pecatonica High School is located in Blanchardville.
I once visited Blanchardville.
It was during the summer, and I was with my friend Giselle, who happened to be in the bleachers on crutches at the time. She was wearing yellow mustard all over the front of her white shirt.
Giselle has a way of making most any old day interesting.
We needed to use a restroom. But Pecatonica High School was closed.
I have come to realize that even if I'd been fortunate enough to have grown up in Blanchardville, I would not have enjoyed any of those snow days.
My mother would have home schooled us.
And I would have done just as poorly at math.
"Well, I had to home school you Millie," she would be saying now. "That school was never open."
It is understandable that some forty years later, my love of a snow day has not dwindled.
There ain't nothing better.
Nothing sweeter.
Time may fly, but this kind of love does not flitter.
Just the other day I said to my Sweet Sven, "Sven, do you know what I want?"
These types of questions always make my husband flinch.
"I just want one more snow day before I retire."
Guess what?
Dreams come true for those who wait.
For those who live outside the Pecatonica Area School District.
And for those who call in.
This morning at five AM, there we were under the blankets in the dim light. I stared at the scrolling list of school cancellations going by on the TV.
Peca-F-N-tonica. strode on past, laughing all the way.
And then the list began again.
I waited.
And waited.
And waited.
And then.
"Sven! Hand me the phone."


When they close Madison Public Schools.
It is a Snow Day.
No matter where you live.

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