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I’m going to start this post off with a reminder. I was born, raised, and lived my entire life in the south (well, except for 6 months of college in England). My entire childhood was spent in St. Petersburg, Florida. I went to one elementary school (Harris Elementary grades 1-6), one junior high school (Meadowlawn grades 7-9), and one high school (Northeast grades 10-12).
I’m not saying my early life was deprived – far from it – it’s just that palm trees and live oaks look the same in January as they do in June. Seasons just don’t happen the same as they do in more northerly climes. Our “spring” flowers were photos. Autumn leaves were cut from construction paper. Snowflakes? Well, they were made from paper doilies.
I remember that it actually SNOWED one day when I was in elementary school. All the teachers released all the kids to run around in the recess yard. We were trying to catch the little flakes on our tongues. That was the first and only time I saw snow until I was much older, while on a trip to North Carolina.
Fast forward to 1981 – Atlanta. I lived in the Atlanta area until 2003. I adore Atlanta! There’s are so many reasons why (proximity to family, the ability to start to be in my mountains in a matter of only a little over an hour, etc.) One of the most exciting things about living in the Atlanta area is that there are four distinct seasons there. Yes, there was even the occasional snow. Of course, snow there usually falls, looks pretty for a couple of hours and then is gone. It was very rare to get enough snow to build a snowman or to make snow angels.
Since August of 2003, I’ve lived in Michigan. Michigan still leads the country in lack of employment; but, if there’s one thing there is NO shortage of, it’s snow! I remember when we used to come up for visits – almost always at Thanksgiving. I’d ask my dear mother-in-law if there was going to be snow. She’d laugh at me and say, “hopefully not!” I’d be disappointed. I couldn’t understand why she would not want snow. As I said, I live here now. I understand.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Snow can be a very beautiful thing! The silence of the air after a heavy snow is amazing. If you get lucky enough to get a bright, blue, sunny day while the snow is on the ground, it’s gorgeous. I especially like the very, very cold snows. The flakes are smaller, lighter and they sparkle like millions of tiny diamonds in the trees, shrubs, and on the ground. Every turn of your head brings thousands of prisms into sight.
There are lots of things to do in the snow. One can actually make a for-real snowman! Snow angels stay there until more snow covers them up. The dogs love to play in it. There’s snowmobiling. Each year, I say we just have to give that a try – maybe we will this year. People cross-country ski. There are even a few hills where downhill skiing is also possible. I even own a pair of snowshoes! (More about snowshoeing in a later post.) There are even a few people who mush (dog sled) on the paths behind our house! I know lots of people who await the snow with the same excited anticipation every year.
So, why do I now understand why my late mother-in-law hoped there wouldn’t be snow at Thanksgiving? Because I know the “flip side” of snow. Lets go one-by-one.
Driving – For some unknown reason, people who have driven in snow for years and years all of the sudden become terrified rookies. Every year! I just don’t understand. Usually, the salt trucks are out well ahead of the main traffic periods. The road can be almost completely clear, yet folks will crawl along as though the entire route is covered with black ice. Now, THAT is a real menace. You do have to be careful around black ice. For those of you who are uninitiated, black ice is when the pavement gets a light covering of ice that you can’t see until you’re right on it. Traction goes out the window, so don’t try to brake while on it. I foresee another whole blog on the joys of transportation…
Walking – There’s just something about gamboling around in snow up to your knees. It can be lots of fun – until you get tired – and tired you will get. The energy expenditure to move around with the extra resistance is not to be taken lightly. Then you’re wet and cold up to your knees. You can barely feel your feet. Your goose-bumps have goose-bumps. Then there are the icy patches on walks, drives and stairs. Vigilance!
Shoveling Snow – Every year, there are reports of people having heart attacks while shoveling snow. There really is a “right” way to do it. I have learned this, but it still can be taxing. I know how to clear the snow without twisting my back. I know to push the snow – which is better than trying to pick it up. Shoveling snow can also be lots of fun! Yes, it can. It’s a riot when one of your dogs (in this case, Sydney) likes to bite at the snow and the shovel. She has managed to turn snow shoveling into a game. As you can see from the photo, Sydney really loves this game.
Clearing the Drive – This is Jim’s job. We do have a very good snow-blower, but it’s still quite a chore. As you can see, our drive is pretty long. It’s also somewhat steep. Jim does a great job, though. He’s understandably exhausted when it’s done. These photos show it’s not a chore to be taken lightly.
Is Spring Ever Coming? – Sometime every year (usually around March), one begins to wonder if Spring will ever come. Sad thing is that you pretty much have to wait until Mothers’ Day. Yes, opening day of baseball season has frequently been snowed out. That’s the absolute worst part about snow. It gets really OLD! Old snow is black, oily and totally yucky. That’s the only word I can think of that truly expresses how old snow looks. I always thought that surely it would still be white and soft as we live pretty much in the woods. Nope. It still gets covered with dirt and soot. It’s nothing as nasty as the snow on the streets, but it does get dirty. Bird seed (and other birdy things), tree soot, smoke from chimneys, all cover the snow.
Rereading this makes me sound like a chronic complainer. I really am not. I love seasons and have always wanted to live someplace that has four distinct seasons. We do have four distinct seasons. Spring is beautiful, summer doesn’t get too hot, and autumn is ablaze with amazing color. All three of these usually have hummingbirds in them, too! It’s just that winter – here – lasts almost six months. The other three seasons have to get squeezed into the remaining six.
Ah heck, maybe I’ll just go snowmobiling…
Up Next: Christmas!