Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Who Needs Flexible Flyers When You Have Cardboard?

Everyone these days talks about the fact that it just doesn't snow anymore the way it used to when we were kids. My mother, when I was a child, used to say the same thing. I know some people who despise snow, and I happen to think they're crabby, crotchety young men who need Gro-Lites in their homes and to take more Vitamin D.

I know some people who find amusement in the Southern reaction to snow. Snow is to the Upper Midwest as rain is to the Pacific Northwest. I know that they are sick of it by spring. Their Parking Lot Monsters can grasp on with their talons until May at times. Granted, I am not Southern, although I have been here for almost 15 years. I can tell you, though, that the South does not have the market cornered on bread and milk runs when snow is in the forecast. It happened all of my life in the Northeast too. In the South we have no fleets of snow removal equipment, and because the events happen so rarely many people don't know how to drive in it (which is ironic given that the area is swarming with Northerners). Every time we get a dusting I giggle over the folks who think that having a Canyonaro will render them immune from driving difficulty. I see most of them flipped or in ditches. Everything closes. EVERYTHING. Except convenience stores. They know that folks like my husband will be willing to trudge over a mile through 22 inches of snow in order to get beer and cigarettes. Deep in my heart I suspect that everything closes down here because people want to revel in the day. Even when we get several inches, chances are that the next day the temp will shoot up into the 50s and the snow will disappear.

As a child growing up in the Delaware Valley each school district was assigned a School Closing Number, and parents would tune into KYW early in the morning to see if their child's number was read off and they would have to make other arrangements for the day. Our number in Oaklyn is 592. Every time we got measurable snow my mother would lie awake in the dark and listen to the numbers droned out. She would hear, "590. 591. 593. 594..." and she would call up the stairs, "Get up. You're going in."

Bill Thompson wouldn't shut down school unless it was The Day After Tomorrow. And even then he'd be more inclined to cancel bus service and tell the rest of us to snowshoe it in.

The night of the Super Bowl in 1996, my first winter down here, I received hourly phone updates from my mother as to how many inches were on the ground at home. If I recall correctly, their final tally was 26. I was seething with envy. I was thisclose to telling her to put a sock in it and slamming the phone down. I heard glee in her voice. I heard the silent reprimand about moving over 400 miles away.

I still get snow envy, although it's balanced by the fact that we can put tomatoes in the ground in late April and have fruit ripe in June.

In the winter of 2000 we had 22 inches of snow dumped on us, and that was absolutely delightful. For awhile. I was living in a small town that was neglected by the plows, and I was stuck at home for almost a week because I couldn't get out of the driveway, and my tires sucked. At one point I tried to back out of the driveway and slid into the lawn. My rear tire got stuck. If they had forecast that correctly and not called for a "dusting" I would have backed into the driveway beforehand.

It snowed one time while I was working for Very Large Bookstore with Very Small Inventory, and several of us took some gigantic merchandising banner signs, attached cords to them, and used them to sled in the parking lot. There weren't many customers anyway.

Livvie has no memory of this day, Inauguration Day, 2009. I'd say that's sad and a blessing in some ways. On the one hand, it was a spectacular day. We all had an absolute blast. I really wish she could think back to that day and relive her joy over it all. On the other hand, the kid is obsessed with snow, and she asks me to make it snow nearly every single day. If she had a memory of this it would be hourly I'm sure. I think we got about 4 or 5 inches around our neighborhood. By the next morning it had melted to about an inch and a half, and the next day it was gone.

In the South, at least, snow forces everything that isn't life or death to come to a halt. Neighbors wake up in the morning and walk outside and grin at each other. People who normally run themselves ragged are required to stop for a day and relax (at least once the shoveling is done). Folks go outside all freaking night overnight and snap photos to send to the local news station. I did it. I got all artsy with our floodlight and the falling flakes. If you aren't in emergency services or medicine or driving a plow or salt truck you stay home and watch bad TV between trips outside. There's usually a run on sleds and shovels at Ace Hardware the day before, and these purchases might be used once in 5 years. No one cares.

In our house these events will be treated with all of the kidtastic joy we can muster. Several inches? Snow forts. Snow men. Snowballs saved in the freezer in a Ziploc bag. A dusting? Catching flakes on our tongues. Dancing in it. Many, many photos.

It's not often one gets the chance to just stop everything and chill out. Although snow more often would be nice, at least it stays special and never becomes de rigueur.

I really, really hope we get a good snow this year.

Crap. I don't have boots.


squirrelgirl said...

KYW...News Radio...1060! I can still hear the jingle even though I've been here since '94.

Julie said...

"You give us 22 minutes, we'll give you the world..."

Chuck said...

Lies and slander and slander and lies. I hate winter, but I like snow. Snow is the only redeeming quality of winter.

Usually, we just get ice.

-- c.

Julie said...

Libel, Chuck. Libel.


Dude, I'm pimping you anyway I can. Shut up.