It’s a Snowmaggedon here in Georgia. Tuesday, as I made my way to Kroger for essentials (cocoa mix, milk, cheese, wine, toilet paper, apples, marshmallows), I laughed to see that there was only ONE cart left in the giant corral of carts by the entrance. One. But you better believe I hopped on it like a duck on a bug. Winter weather in Georgia is cause for panic. The mood of the day put me in mind of that line from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” where Antony worries that Caesar’s pissed off ghost will “cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war.” In ancient times, “Havoc” was a military command that basically gave the troops permission to pillage, murder and sack. So when the commander cried HAVOC…things ended up looking much like the bread aisle at Kroger.
I have friends from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Colorado, Maine, Illinois–all of whom roll their eyes at us Southerners when we panic at the first sign of snow. Yes, WE GET IT. You have seen more snow in your lifetime. You don’t understand what all the fuss is about. In your book, this is NOTHING. They would NEVER close schools back where you’re from. Good for you.
For those of you who have grown jaded to snow, here’s a little insight into a snow day in Georgia:
- As long as you get to choose when to be out in it, we still think snow is FUN. It makes the dogs all giddy. It even glosses over the piles of dog crap in the backyard. It’s so unusual that it makes our kids all hyped up, like your kids would be if they suddenly got a pleasant day–sunny and 65–in the middle of January. We get sunny and 65 all the time and it doesn’t freak us out. We don’t rush to the store for sunscreen and margarita mix like y’all do.
- Snow means “play” for young and old. I spent $60 on sleds from the Army Surplus store this morning and my boss–who grew up in Indiana then Colorado–said, “YOU CAN’T SLED IN ONE INCH OF SNOW!” Um, yeah–you can. My kids would sled in the ice maker if I would let them give it a try. We have a steep hill in the backyard coated in a bunch of crunchy grass and a thin skin of snow. We. Are. Sledding. I don’t care if it’s on an old shower curtain liner, a trash can lid or a fancy sled that will dry rot in the garage before we have a chance to use it again.
- Yes, lots of snow is better for snowy activities, but we are snow beggers and cannot be snow choosers. I have been snowboarding in Utah on two feet of fresh powder and it was delightful. I have skied down the Stubaier Glacier in Innsbruck, Austria (in a very pokey fashion) and it was ripping fantastic (once I found a pocket of oxygen). But an inch of snow can be a treasured childhood memory if it only happens once or twice in your life. I still remember the week we were out of school in 1982 or 1983 due to snow. Our house was the only one in town with a wood burning stove for heat and a gas stove for cooking. Someone found an old sled at the antique dealer’s house. My mom made real cocoa in a pan on the wood stove. Our Irish Setter played until his coat was matted with icicles. I’ll never forget that week because it not very often that we have an excuse to stop what we’re supposed to be doing and play.
- OK, we do talk about snow incessantly if there is any threat of a flake falling. It is the only topic of conversation, whether the conversation be with a stranger, your coworkers, or the weatherman on the television set as we beg, “Please please please say it’s going to happen!” Again, we talk about snow because it is exceptional for us (the same way transplants to the South talk about gnats and humidity and the fat content of mayonnaise–things we got over long ago).
- Go ahead and make the jokes about how we run to the grocery store for milk and bread. Things can get dicey here pretty quickly when the roads freeze up, the power lines start snapping and the trucks can’t keep up. We lost power for two days when Vivi was a toddler and it scared the crap out of me. My brother got stuck in that epic traffic jam in Atlanta tonight–almost 10 hours to go from Buckhead to Marrietta (10-15 miles). But guess what? He made it OK because he had an 8 piece pack of chicken in his truck. He had the good sense to stop by the grocery store first!
So y’all go on and roll your eyes if you must while we Southerners dash around with our mismatched mittens, insufficient footwear, and complete lack of black ice driving maneuvers. I will be over here on my shiny new sled, just like it’s Christmas morning. Or I will be in the E.R. with a head wound and some fried chicken in my purse.