The sun is going to come out tomorrow. No, I’m not quoting from Annie, but persistently believing that the weather report will be true. After a whole week of rain and grey weather, I could really use some sunshine. Some of those rays will allow me to play some frisbee this weekend, which is very important (I know you understand). We will get gloriously muddy, in the process.
But after two days of steady or even heavy rain, whenever I tell a college student that the sun’s going to show its face tomorrow, they don’t believe me! The weather has affected them so much that they pessimistically think that they’ll never get to see it again. However, as soon as they shoot down my comments about seeing daylight, they inform me that it’s supposed to snow tonight. Their expressions are delightedly hopeful. Being the cheerfully optimistic person I am, I tell them it “ain’t gonna happen”, or something to that effect. Aren’t I nice?
Snow is a strange and wonderful thing. Or at least, its effect on Southerners is. The mere prediction can cause a run on bread, eggs, and milk at the grocery stores, which comes friends of mine to wonder if they’re longing for French toast. A few flurries in the air will cause schools to close, or at least be delayed for several hours. Admittedly, it takes either several inches of snow on the ground, or ice, to close Clemson University.
Despite the cravings for bread and milk that accompany every weather forecaster’s dream of snow, most Southerners don’t believe it will actually happen. Until it does. Because it usually doesn’t. Freezing rain and extremely dangerous ice will cover the roads and cause pine trees to explode, but snow rarely falls here. And even more rarely does it stick to the ground.
So, my funny bone was tickled at how many college students wanted to believe there would be snow, but still remained pessimistic about sunshine. The sun has gone forever, they all think, as their rain coats leave huge puddles on the floor, and water drips from the leak in the ceiling.
Those of us that live here year round, talk of snow brings up memories. I know Northerners that have been here when it does snow enough to stick, and they’ve discovered that snowy weather is more fun in the south, if no car accidents occur (but they always do). There’s never enough snow to shovel, so we just play in it. Build snowmen, make snow angels, and go looking for any hill (even neighborhood streets) that’s steep enough to slide down. We’ll use almost anything to slide on, too.
But if you’re up north, the snow plows start immediately, and no one, except some of the kids, are ever interested in playing in it. I lived in PA for five years, and discovered quickly that playing by yourself in the snow isn’t any fun, and I couldn’t sled on the street that went by my house. But I did have to help shovel the sidewalks for work. I never actually owned a shovel of my own, I usually used a broom to clear my driveway and front stoop.
Down here, we tend to remember the ice storm at Christmas, two years ago, that knocked out most of the power in Pickens County, some areas being without power for up to a week. That was between Christmas and New Year’s. Think some people found that memorable? There was some snow that came down with it, but it was the ice that did the real damage. Power lines down everywhere, people trapped in their homes with trees in their driveways, and grocery stores having to throw away all their perishables for lack of generators. My family was blessed to be in a pocket of town that did have power, thankfully.
My close friends and I still fondly remember about 8 or 9 years ago, when we had the best mix of ice and snow EVER. Two or three inches of snow, with just a little freezing rain on top. Not enough to make the roads completely unsafe, but enough to keep the snow from melting off right away. And it stayed cloudy, so the sun didn’t melt it away. We took my family’s truck to rescue friends from their apartment complex (at the bottom of any icy gully), and headed straight for Kite Hill.
That morning, we had finally broken both of our old sleds on a local street (I took out a big green garbage can, as I recall), and we were using cookie sheets and breakfast trays to slide on. None of our friends had enough winter gear, so we dug out every winter hat and pair of gloves (including motorcycle glove liners) that we owned, to keep them all warm. We made multiple attempts to sled on our assorted equipment, but ended up borrowing a large piece of plastic from another group of sledders, when they were down. Since you couldn’t see where you were going, if you went down headfirst (holding the plastic up and over your head), a few of us experimented by going down headfirst, face-up. Our church elder’s wife was with us, and I remember her refusing to go down headfirst, but she DID go down that hill with us, more than once.
Snow in the South, just the idea of it, makes us pessimistic, crazy (bread, milk, & eggs), bewilderingly hopeful (that it WILL snow), and then if it even happens, it causes some of the greatest and worst memories imaginable. Every schoolchild remembers the years they got to miss extra school for a snow prediction, but didn’t get any to play in. We all remember when we lost power or when our relatives drive off the road (Southerners don’t really know how to drive in the snow). Snow is the reason Northerners move south when they retire, but it’s one thing that makes Southern winters interesting. We can have 90 degree weather in January and snow in April. I’ve seen it happen.
You’ve probably heard that things are slower in the South, but life is certainly never dull. I love it when life is interesting, don’t you?