Since our winter feels like it's coming early this year, we have already had some “cold” related bus happenings. Again, from a kid's perspective, the cold doesn't get them down, it seems to energize them. Of course, even the coldest morning can be forgotten once those doors swing open, and they feel the press of the warm air from the bus.

"THANK YOU! I mean, good morning" a middle school girl remarked last Monday when a freezing day had them out waiting a few minutes extra because of the extremely slippery roads. There were more than a few “oohs and ahhs” as one by one they mounted the stairs to come in from the cold.

That afternoon at the high school, when the wind had picked up and was now blowing the icy air through the parking lot like it was a polar ice cap, I had the bus running and the heat on when the first students boarded. One young man stopped on the stairs, pulled his hands out of his pockets, and rubbed them in front of the heat blowing from the stairwell heater.

"Holy s_ _ _ it's cold out there!" he exclaimed.

"C'mon in and I'll close the door behind you so it stays warm in here," I replied.

All the while I'm thinking, “a pair of gloves and a hat might not be a bad idea.”

As we were heading down the road, I heard this phrase, and then silence.

"I suppose you're heading out soon?"

Not that I had been eavesdropping, but I suddenly realized the conversation had stopped in the four front seats. I looked up in the mirror, and the speaker was looking right at me.

"Oh, me? Yeah, no, we don't leave till after Christmas," I replied.

"He goes to Arizona for his winter break." This was followed by about five seconds of silence, as the students contemplated this idea.

"I know, right?" The girl finished the unspoken thoughts of her conversationalists.

On Friday, we had another bout of bad driving, as the snow was coming down hard during the morning routes and the daily commute in the Twin Cities metro. My middle school kids were completely covered in the rapidly descending snow as they boarded the bus. After the first three stops I got on the intercom.

"Thumbs up if you are warm enough?" A forest of extended arms and thumbs jerked toward the ceiling.

"It's BEAUTIFUL!" came a voice rising above a chorus of “yeahs.”

The start of the official holiday season began this morning on my elementary run. After the kids had all loaded and we were on our way to the school, I caught this coming from one very excited kindergarten girl in the front seat.

"I might fill this whole bus with paper, that's how much things I'm asking for Christmas!"

Blest be the cold, that binds.