After a conversation about snow flurries with a new client, I was reminded of my early days living in the High Country soon after my family had moved here from Colorado Springs. 


I was at a rehab appointment for a recent injury. (Unfortunately, it was a building I cannot place, but it was not any of the current rehab locations.) During my appointment, activity picked up all around me. People were scurrying, phones were ringing, and staff were whispering about school dismissing at 1:00. I was alarmed as I had four kids in school and didn’t understand what was going on. I hadn’t yet been initiated into the nuances of a Watauga County winter and how weather sometimes dictates school dismissal times. I naively inquired why they were dismissing school and the only reply I received was a curt, “Snow.” I was puzzled as I looked out the window as there was no snow; it was hardly even cold. But understanding the weather was slightly irrelevant; I had children to attend to. Joining the scurrying about, I left my appointment early to go pick up my children. Bemused, I drove to my kids’ schools mystified at the excitement, alarm, and sense of urgency I was encountering.


That was about 20 years ago. I understand now. The Watauga County School System is a county system where if one school’s weather dictates early dismissal, all schools dismiss early. If Blowing Rock dismisses early, Parkway dismisses early. The schools start at the same time and dismiss at the same time. There are eight public elementary schools and one public high school, all sharing the same hours of operation. 


So, back to the snow. Now I understand that part too. Anyone who has been here through a winter – which I had not yet been in this story – knows that the main roads can be clear, the roads up to the ski lodges can be fine (yes, school snow days result in lots of kids at the slopes), while a turn down a secondary road can be like entering Narnia. 


The topography of our area includes winding, climbing, descending roads without guard rails, and steep driveways. As someone who drives the county roads regularly, I can attest that getting about may be totally fine where you are, but 20 miles away, the road conditions may be very different, even treacherous. I travel these roads all winter for my business, and they can be terrifying. I may share a few of my harrowing moments another day, but suffice it to say, I take roads, snow, and temperature into account when I plan showings in the winter. 


Now, back to that rehab appointment, . . . Our weather can be crazy, and it affects everyone. It sure makes me wonder how working parents do it. How do they juggle early school dismissals with their work?