Wednesday, February 05, 2014

The Snow & The South

Snowpocalypse.  Snowtastrophe.  Snow-anu Reeves.  Whatever you want to call it, the latest winter disaster has come and gone.  And while we only got a few flakes here in Boneville, parts south and east of here were left paralyzed beneath two inches of snow and ice.

Personally, I prefer to call it Snownado, if only because I would hope to get Ian Ziering to star in the documentary.  In fact, I would like to copyright "snownado" at this time, as much as it is possible to copyright a thing by writing it in a blog.

Some have even chosen to use the occasion to poke fun at the South.  Oh sure, first we lose the Civil War, allegedly, and now this.  That's piling on a bit, don't you think?

I wonder if any of these union sympathizers are aware that a human being can drown in less than two inches of water.  And we all know where snow comes from, right?  Hang on, let me Wikipedia this....  Ah, just as I thought: frozen water! 

To understand snow in the South, you must first understand that actual snow and the possibility of snow are two very different things.

The possibility of snow is the more common occurrence.  Far more common.

Several times per winter -- I'd guesstimate twelve to fifteen -- our trusty local weathermen will call for a chance of snow.  This despite the fact we only get one or two measurable snows in a good year.  Is trusty the right word?

This forecast of snow sets in motion a semi-chaotic, yet selfsame response akin to kicking an ant hill, wherein thousands of people flock to their local supermarket to purchase two items:


And bread.

For reasons I've yet to fully understand, this seems to be the number one key to surviving a Snowmageddon in the South.  Salt trucks, portable heaters, generators -- those things are nice.  But you first must have your milk and your bread or you will find yourself in an unspeakable state of... something... terrible.  I guess.

And if it's supposed to snow on Friday, don't wait until Thursday night to try and purchase your milk and your bread.  For then, my friend, you will have found yourself a real life character in one of Aesop's fabled... well, fables.

You will be the grasshopper, left with no bread and a pint of half and half, if you're lucky.  While the rest of the ants who prepared for the winter (storm) will be drinking their gallons of 1% and eating Sunbeam for days! 

Now once the possibility of snow is put forth by those prognosticators of nature, as you might guess that becomes the main topic of conversation anywhere you go.  "Do you think it's gonna snow?"  "Are y'all ready for the snow?"  "Man, I hope it snows!"  And of course, "Have you got your milk and bread yet?"

Another occurrence that has become popular in recent years is delaying or canceling schools at the mere mention of snow.  A few weeks ago, several school systems announced on Friday that they would be delaying school by two hours on Monday morning because there was a chance of snow on Sunday.  Which for some reason just makes me want to tell someone I'd gladly pay them Tuesday for a hamburger today.

I think just maybe we're paying a little too much credence to these extended forecasts.  As my friend (as I'm sure he would be if we had ever met) and Super Bowl commercial star Jerry Seinfeld once said, "If the five-day forecast were accurate, we'd only need to watch the weather every five days."

Now let's talk about that rare and wonderful phenomenon known as actual snow, as it pertains to the Deep South.

Actual snow dominates the conversation even more than the possibility of snow.  "It's snowing!!!"  "Is it snowing there yet?"  "Have ya'll been out to play in it?"  And of course, "Thank goodness I got my milk and bread yesterday."

If there is snow on the roads, even as much as a quarter of an inch, businesses close, schools close for days!  No one goes anywhere.  Quite simply, everything shuts down.  And we're fine with that.

We don't have some Joe Road Grader coming by every ten minutes to clear our roads.  You wanna know what we use to clear our roads if it snows?  Only a little ball of burning gases known as the sun.  Perhaps you've heard of it.

So without trivial things such as work, school, or driving to contend with, we are free to enjoy the snow as I believe it was intended:  As the central ingredient of snow cream.  That's basically some parts snow, some parts milk, some parts sugar, and a touch of vanilla.  Good thing we bought that milk.

We make snowmen, and snow angels. We go sledding, even though we have little to no sledding experience.  This sometimes leads to injuries and trips to the ER.  And we're fine with that.

But we don't drive.

That's what made last week's snownado aftermath so perplexing at first.  And yet, once I really thought about it, it made perfect sense.

We were driving.  ("We" meaning Southerners.)  It started snowing.  So we stopped our cars in the middle of the interstate, said "Eff this crap," and waited for somebody on an ATV to come and get us.  Fortunately, based on some raw data I accumulated by driving down a back road the other day and looking in people's yards, like 87% of Southerners own an ATV.

I did see on Twitter one of the Birmingham weathermen was apologizing for badly botching the forecast last week. That might help explain why so many were on the roads as if there were no possibility of snow whatsoever.

Naturally, there is another chance of snow in our forecast for this weekend.  Thereupon, I am reminded of one of Aesop's lesser known tales: 

The weatherman who cried wolf.

"April, all an ocean away / Is this the better way to spend the day / Keeping the winter at bay..."