Posted by: jgurner | January 9, 2011


I a few hours, if the weather voodoo men have read the signs correctly, snow will begin to fall.

Not just a little snow, but the biggest snow since 10 inches of the white stuff blanketed our part of the world in 1988. Between today and tomorrow, we can expect up to eight inches of snow. In some parts of the world, that much snow may seem like nothing, but here, it may as well be a blizzard. The snow I experienced in Chicago last year was more than eight inches and was no big deal. The streets were clean. The stores and schools were open. But, we’re just not equipped to deal with it here in Dixie.

Every time snow comes into the forecast, I can’t help but thinking back to all those times growing up when the “big snows” hit. It seemed to be much more frequent back then. I can remember several times in elementary school and high school where we got enough snow to keep us out of school for days. I remember when I was in the fourth grade, a day much like today where the skies were cloudy and the wind was cold. The rain started falling by nightfall and every 10 to 15 minutes, my brother and I would run out to the road in front of our house to see if ice had started to form. By bed time, there was still no joy.

The next morning, as soon as the daylight crept up enough to get a good look at the world, my father came and got us out of our nice, warm beds and showed us a world that, overnight, had turned into a pristine white blanket of snow. Looking out our front window, there was nothing to distinguish road from from yard. No buses would be running today, or for the entire week. We couldn’t get out of our pajamas and into our coats fast enough.

I honestly believe my father loved snow as much as we did. He’d spend the days loading us into the back of the old pickup and hauling us up to the top of the hill by our house so we could whiz down the ice-covered road on our sleds. Real wooden sleds. Flexible Flyers. The best.

The great thing about hill country is there are plenty of places for good sledding and we’d hit time all. The long hills, the short but fast slopes, the curvy roads, the hill that, if you weren’t careful, you might end up in the pond. All of them. Every couple of hours it was always back to the hour to warm up, dry off and grab something to eat. But, as soon as the gloves were dry, it was back out into the snow. Even after the sun went down, we still stayed out in it. The sleds may have retired for the day, but we were determined to wring every minute of fun out of the snow before it went away.

Now, 30 some odd years later, and things a just a little different. While predicting the weather isn’t an exact science, it’s much, much better and, honestly, on a day like today, it takes a little fun out of things. Back then we knew snow as a distinct possibility, but when and how much were anyone’s guess. How long would it stay on the ground? Who knew. Today, the forecast tells me it will start about three p.m. and last until about 6 a.m. tomorrow and there will be between five and eight inches, which should stick around through Tuesday, maybe into Wednesday. Back in the day, you’d wake up early and tune in to WVLY AM (Lucky 13 Radio!) and wait anxiously for the announcement that school would be closed (if someone was actually able to make it to the radio station located outside of town.) Today, I have to decide, if it does snow as much as forecast, at what point do I close the library and I worry about not being able to be open for the public (and ignoring the fact that if it snows that much, no one will be able to make it to the library any way. We’re at the top of the tallest hill in town.)

Plus, the kid-like anticipation is tempered by the fact that, for the past couple of decades, just about every big snow has turned out to be a bust. There have been a few that have dropped an inch or two now and again. One, that started with a heavy sleet actually closed the newspaper office for a day. Of course, since I lived only three blocks away, I had to go in and work anyway.

But, even with the responsibilities now that weren’t there for a 10-year-old, I can’t help buy giving in to that anxious anticipation every now and again. And while I probably wouldn’t spend the entire day out in the snow, I still long to see that soft, deep, pristine white sheet cover the earth. To hear the silence that comes with the snow falling from the sky.

And who knows, if you drive by once it starts, you may see me stepping out the front door every once in a while and out to the road, just to check…


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