Two days ago, I stood in the checkout line at the grocery store for twenty minutes. It was unusual, since mine prides itself on stellar customer service. They even take your bags to the car for you with a smile and a “Have a good day.” But like so many people, I was compelled to stock up for the approaching weather, a ritual akin to those busy squirrels gathering nuts in the winter. As I waited my turn to put my food on the conveyor belt, I wondered how many times I had done this. When I lived in South Louisiana, buying bread and milk, along with the appropriate adult beverages, seemed as normal as breathing when tropical storms and possible hurricanes threatened all too often in the fall. And that could be a little unsettling. But the snow forecast is a little different, a rare occurrence in Georgia, and we embrace it with the same kind of excitement as we do Santa’s visit on Christmas morning.
Everything shuts down here before the first flake hits the ground. Our roads are not made for icy travel. We lack the equipment or the manpower to clear things quickly, so a snow day is a license to just be, permission to suspend the work and responsibilities that plague us on a daily basis. We get to watch old movies as we hunker down under the blankets and stoke the fireplace. Families gather near, enjoying the togetherness that our busy life often prevents us from enjoying. The calories in junk food don’t count on such a day, so we open that bag of chips, heat up the cocoa and eat the cookies. It just tastes better as we gaze out the windows at the spectacle, the winter wonderland that Mother Nature has so graciously delivered. It is a gift, all wrapped in white.
At some point, we all don our long underwear, our heaviest coats and gloves and go out to explore. We take pictures to document the occasion, to share years later. Garbage can lids are pressed into service as makeshift sleds. And although we rarely get more than an inch or two, we scoop and sweep, giving life to the three-ball wonder we call a snowman. Indeed, there is nothing like the allure of snow in the South to turn even the oldest member of the group into a kid again, throwing handfuls of the white powder at each other with wild abandon.
Yeah, it is quite spectacular. And so this morning, much to my delight, I woke to a soft white blanket covering everything. The landscape sparkled, glistening in the sun, its brightness reflecting off of the rooftops and trees. It is all so lovely, a calm stillness in the air. And I stood at the window in awe, just taking it all in, trying to make a memory I can later recall.
People who have moved here from the North, often shake their heads in confusion over our fascination with the stuff. They have lived with it, plowed through it and simply regard it as a meteorological nuisance. But for those of us who say “y’all” on a regular basis, it is pretty darned special.
And now, if you will excuse me, I have to go check the brownies I just put in the oven. My New Year’s Resolution to diet is being deferred. After all, it is a snow day.