On Snowcations and the Great Snowmagedon of 2015
I live in the South, where with just the rumor of a flake of snow or frozen precipitation of any kind, the city of Birmingham shuts down faster than you can say ‘pass the barbecue sauce’. While our neighbors to the north have a good laugh at our mania surrounding winter weather, there is good reason for our caution; just last year when they didn’t make the call soon enough to close schools and public facilities, hundreds of people were stranded on highways, in schools, and in workplaces. We don’t have the equipment to deal with snow and ice, and nobody around here knows how to drive in it, so being out in winter weather really is taking your life- and the lives of others- into to your own hands.
I grew up in Florida, and I remember only one rare time when the snow lightly covered our yard when I was in junior high. It was cause for great celebration, with people trying to build snowmen out of the pathetically small amount of snow. From that day on, however, I fell in love with the idea of snow and its magic, its ability to transform not only the landscape, but also people- the world seems to stop. Last year’s ‘Snowmagedon’ was the most snow I’ve ever seen in Birmingham- a good six inches of beautifully white, powdery snow blanketed everything. Our home looked like a winter wonderland, and we had a great time holing up and watching the dogs run and play outside. Winter weather here brings us the rare gift of a snowcation- and being “stuck” at home with Dan and the animals is one of my favorite things in the world. Living on a big hill with our steep driveway, we truly can’t get the cars down safely.
We had plenty of warning for this year’s one winter weather event, and the local newscasters were in seventh heaven working everyone into a frenzy. Grocery stores sold out of bread and milk (what is with that, anyway?), schools closed, and we waited for our long promised two to four inches of winter gold….and we waited…..and waited. Counties to the north of us got snow, and the weather people were on it, showing every flake that fell. Our weather station sent their people out in the pouring rain (our version of the weather “event” that had shut down the city) in search for something frozen- anything. It was laughable- and also sad- at how they were blowing all of this out of proportion. I’m pretty sure that snow has been around for a long time- even in Alabama, so why all of the drama? My sister in northern Maine and my friends in upstate New York know snow. If anyone has reason to go nuts over snow, they do. We Alabamians need to just simmer down.
Finally when darkness set in, our weatherman came on to say he was sorry, but it looked like all we would get would be rain- the snow was north of us. I looked at Dan and our faces fell- we were sad to have missed the chance to see a bit of snow before Spring arrives. At that precise moment, something caught my eye through the sun room windows, something coming down from the sky that was white and fluffy…snow at last! We ran to the sun porch and watched as the snow fell, covering the ground and decorating the trees and bushes in pristine white. It only lasted for about an hour, but it stuck and was beautiful. There is something about a first snow that is truly magical. A hush seems to fall, a quiet like no other. It is peaceful, everything made more picturesque by the equal opportunity white coating. There is a party mood in our neighborhood, with neighbors coming out with homemade sleds to rocket down the hilly street or to walk their dogs. Every single time, it is special- an occasion- with people laughing and speaking with each other in a way that they don’t at other times.
I can sympathize with my northern friends- If I had to deal with the realities of feet of snow for months on end, perhaps I wouldn’t be so excited about winter weather…but then again, maybe I would. While I will rejoice when Spring makes its grand colorful entrance, I will never turn my back on the gifts of winter- or any other season. Each season has its own wonder, its own lessons to teach us. So, before it all melts away, I’m heading out to take it all in….and I might even make a tiny snowman.