Snow days are a state of mind.
During the run of Critics Critiqued in 2003, I began gathering subjects for my next series, Snow Days, portraits of local television meteorologists and news anchors, including Shauna Parsons of channel 12.
Though there were many motives for this show, the original impetus for this work was my father. For years, I’d watched him watching the news. Like most of the older men in my life, my papa spent (and still spends) a lot of time informing himself, plugged into local, national, and international happenings. It was almost as though he wasn’t just watching the news, but controlling it—as if it wouldn’t occur unless he was keeping track of it.
My approach to the news was much less rigorous than my father’s. I would let reports come to me via friends and family, and I would skim through the newspaper (instead of just the comics) once every few days. The only way I could begin to understand my father’s behavior was through my own imitation of it whenever snow threatened. Glued to the television on those cold evenings, I must have been praying to some meteorological god, and I know I couldn’t have been the only kid doing it.
The snow day was the ultimate day off. It wasn’t the planned calendar holiday, already used up in anticipation by the time it actually rolled around. It was a real free day, a surprise! It was something to break the monotony—the schedule—of everyday life. And by altering the appearance of my surroundings, the snow highlighted the forgotten details of the everyday. It made the world more real. Maybe that’s what the news does for my father.