CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

January 21, 2013

SOUTHERN STYLE: Snow Day

By Loretta Gillespie
The Cullman Times

— Most people in the South love snow; people in the northern parts of the country don’t understand this. They can’t comprehend why we run to the grocery store at the first hint of snow, buying all the bread and milk that we can carry, along with batteries, canned tuna, peanut butter and rock salt.

They can’t fathom why schools close, businesses delay opening, and church services are postponed.

Well, for the record, so that the other two-thirds of the country will finally understand why the South freaks out about snow, here are some of the reasons why snow in the South is an “event.”

First, there are 30-year-old drivers out there, mostly with small children, who have only driven on snow and ice once or twice in their lives. You’d hardly call them experienced hazardous weather motorists. Some have barely mastered heavy dew.

Second, the power often goes out here when the weather gets bad, leaving a lot of people without heat. We don’t want our children in a cold classroom without heat.

Running out of bread is scary when you have children at home. People make sandwiches because the power is out, so bread flies off the shelf as fast as it comes in.

Same thing with milk, when kids are home and there is no power, what do you feed them? Cereal, and peanut butter sandwiches, so, you gotta have milk.

But the biggest problem with snow in the Southland is that municipalities in this area, already strapped for money, just don’t budget for snowplows.

Why would they?

Most of them would rust and ruin before they were ever cranked, adding another financial burden to small towns and little cities that hardly ever see the white stuff.

 Lots of people who move south from such places as Michigan and New York have never seen an official “road closed” sign. In traveling the interstate, you will often notice cars stuck in the median, mostly with tags from Michigan, Ohio and Indiana  pointed south.

These folks are experienced in driving in blizzard conditions — mostly with chains on their snow tires.

The problem for these experienced drivers is that our snow is more often than not, preceeded by ice. In our part of the country, this means “black ice,” which is treacherous for any driver, especially ones caught unaware. No driver should be out in that, it’s extremely dangerous, and the black ice is invisible.

Because of all these things, do we really want our children or grandchildren on a bus, or being driven to school by a perfectly competent driver who has never driven in conditions like these?

Perhaps the best reason for stopping the normal day-to-day hustle and bustle is that even grownup folks still love to see brilliant scarlet cardinals on a blanket of white, children sledding down hills, boys building snow forts and girls bombarding them with snowballs.  

And we can’t get enough of snowmen, or making a big bowl of snow cream to eat in front of a roaring fire in our pajamas while watching old movies on television. That is a rare treat.

Maybe that’s really the reason we put up with the closings, delays and postponements. It gives us time to savor the day, to make memories as we watch little ones who have never seen snow as they try to catch the fluffy flakes on their little tongues.

Maybe we need more days like this — at least once a year — when progress slows to a halt and the silence of an early morning snow day is a most extraordinary and a magically beautiful thing here in the South.