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A Southern Snowfall

January 17, 2011

During an especially severe ice storm, a friend called to add his unique brand of humor.

“This is the devil,” he announced.  “It’s frozen over down here, too!”

The beginning of January intensifies the prospect of inclement weather.  Meteorologists know that forecasting weather for the Upstate is always a challenge. Accuracy in prognostication is high risk in winter.

With advanced technology at their fingertips, most weather professionals agree the tool that would be most helpful to them is one usually absent in their weather room. Given a window, they could at least look outside to see for themselves what was actually happening.

Southern folks have their time-honored ways of determining the long-range forecast.  The length of hair on a horse’s back or the colors of the fuzz on a wooly worm are indicators of what is to come.  The relative scarcity or plenty of acorns, pecans, hickory nuts, and beechnuts are portents of the severity of winter.

Sleet and freezing rain are the most dreaded forms of precipitation.  While ice-covered trees have a crystalline beauty, the popping of breaking branches and the cracking of splitting trunks are sounds of nature’s agony.   Frozen roads, sidewalks, and ice-laden power lines contribute to the human misery with broken limbs and splitting headaches.

Some people in the South greet the prospect of snow with excitement.  Accumulation creates a delightful playground of snow angels and snowmen, snowball fights and sledding.

Winter weather is not a delight for everybody.  Some are baffled by the enthusiastic reaction to snow.  Enough is enough for them!  They are annoyed when a few inches of snow bring life to a screeching halt.

Others work through the difficult conditions. Medical personnel, paramedics, firefighters, law enforcement officers, utility employees, road crews, and tow truck drivers are but a few examples of those who labor long hours in the cold and damp.

Several years ago, I was visiting the hospital during an ice storm. I came upon a homeless man sleeping in the stairwell.  I was reminded that those of us who have food and warmth must share with organizations that provide services to our most needy citizens.

For some, a snow day is a holiday!

My mother always fixed a big pot of vegetable soup on snow days.  Though the roads were too bad to go to school, Mama’s children and grandchildren found a way to travel “over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house.”

When snow is impending, grocery shelves are quickly depleted of milk and bread.  Do people really sit in their homes eating bread and drinking milk?

I posed the question while standing in the express line at the store.  The woman ahead of me explained, “If my power goes out, I give my children peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a glass of milk.  Peanut butter and milk give them complete protein.”

Glad for a reasonable answer, I stepped forward to purchase my own bread and milk.

Kirk H. Neely
© January 2011
kirkhneely44@gmail.com
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