Don’t Laugh. You Just Need to Understand Southerners and Snow…
We travel all over the continent speaking, so we have friends from Manitoba to Miami. Practically all of them that live north of the Mason-Dixon Line love to laugh at how we Southerners react to snow.
We admit, it is a bit humorous. Hal used to work for the power company. If he stopped at the grocery store on the way home and happened to be wearing a company jacket or hat, the cashier would get eyes as big as saucers. “Do..do..do you know something we don’t?” she’d ask in a panicked voice.
“Huh? What are you talking about?” Hal was puzzled.
“All that milk!!! Are we going to have snow????” Better grab your milk and bread now, boys and girls. The power company guys are buying supplies.
“No, ma’am. We have eight kids. Seven gallons of milk is a normal week for us.”
Let’s face it. If the weatherman so much as shows a snowflake on the map, there’s a run on the stores. Milk, bread, and comfort foods take a beating. And there are reasons that aren’t just hysteria.
You see, we Southerners don’t like to drive in the snow. Folks say we don’t know how, but many of us actually do pretty well with it; we’ve driven in a snow squall in the Colorado Rockies and crossed the plains of Canada in the teeth of a February gale, so it’s not a matter of “can’t.” We still don’t get out much when it’s snowing, because you’ve got to look out for the other folks — the ones that do see a few flakes cross their windshield and drive straight into the nearest ditch.
It’s not all our fault, anyway. Our friends up north know that snow which falls this week is likely to land on snow which was there last week – and will be under the snow which falls next week. They know snow is a long-term proposition, and life’s gotta go on – shovel it out and keep moving.
Down here, it’s a temporary condition. Our snow doesn’t last long enough to get muddy and gray. When it only comes once or twice a year and only lasts a couple of days, it just doesn’t make sense for a town to purchase the heavy snowplows and pile up mountains of salt. Leave it alone and it will take care of itself.
Our snow isn’t like your snow, either. We were amazed the first time we experienced a real Midwestern snow – you could just sweep it off the windshield. You could kneel down to look under the car and stay perfectly dry – just brush the powder off. Down here, snow is heavy and wet, if we don’t get freezing rain instead. The real problem is ice – it’s not that cold, so snow tends to melt and refreeze as ice. The roads become treacherous; we’ve had more problems driving in our little town than in Canada with two feet on the ground. (Okay, call it 60 centimeters if you like).
Ice brings down power lines, too. That’s what all the bread and milk is about. At least we can eat cereal and sandwiches if the power goes out. The Frosted Flakes and Cap’n Crunch always takes a hit when snow’s in the forecast. Snow reminds of us childhood fun and we all tend to revisit childhood in our hearts when the flurries start.
Snow is magical in the South. It’s like our Fairy Godmother. That’s a little hard to get if you live with it all the time. The mud. The nasty, dirty snow. The bother. Honestly, it would be awful to have to dress the kids for snow every time we left the house.
It’s not like that for us. It’s kind of like a story I once heard Garrison Keillor tell. One day you get on the bus to work and find out you’ve boarded the Liberty Bus. Surprise! You’re not going to work, you’re going to have an adventure instead!
That’s the way snow works around here. It’s January. It’s gray and cold and rainy. You’re lower than a snake’s belly and the kids all have cabin fever. The weeks to come just look like an endless conveyor belt of drudgery. Day after weary day of work, school, and chores following one after the other.
Suddenly you hear a cry of delight, “SNOW!” Someone peeking out the window has seen a lazy flake drift by. Both of us remember crouching by the window as children and watching hopefully for any sign of solid precipitation. When we hear that call, all of us run for the porch.
Usually it’s nighttime, and we all peer up at the streetlights for confirmation. “Yes, Yes, I see it! Snow!” Everyone dances around with delight! It’s like God waved His hand over the town and declared a holiday – with an extra helping of beauty and fun.
Remember? It’s not really worth the trouble to buy all the stuff we need to get business done. There are a lot of accidents, too. So, most businesses and schools just give up and close. It’s really less trouble. Even if you were open, no one else would be.
That’s what’s so magical about it. Sometime in the worst, most dreary part of the year, white stuff falls from the sky. Gray becomes white. The world turns beautiful. And you don’t have to go to work or school! It’s a random holiday! An unexpected holiday in the midst of the most boring months of the year. You wake up expecting a workday slog and you get Christmas instead! Why wouldn’t we go crazy? Who wouldn’t?
Here’s to the next Snow Day! Laugh at us if you must. We’ll be making snow angels and eating snow cream, drinking hot chocolate, and building a fire in the fireplace. We’ll all be children again for a day or two. It’s going to be fun!
Hal & Melanie