Monday, January 15, 2018

Let It Snow - A Personal Perspective

How can one person have so many different feelings about snow? Maybe it is just me or maybe others have gone through the same thought processes. I am writing today because over the years I have changed 180 degrees concerning my feelings about snow.

Let's begin with childhood. My childhood. Growing up in San Antonio and then Memphis did not give me many opportunities to be around snow. The few times that we did have snow, I was one of the first ones out in it. My mother had to use lots of creativity for outer winter clothing. It is not like we had snow boots and waterproof ski clothing. She worked enough magic to keep us warm and dry enough to be out in the snow for a while. About the only way she managed to get us to come in was to bribe us with a cup of hot chocolate and marshmallows. 

This did not happen often so the novelty remained throughout my childhood. Not long after graduating from college, I married and moved up north. The wedding was in August, yet just two months later, a day before Halloween, it snowed! Neighbors were telling me all kinds of horror stories (at least in my mind they were) about how deep the snows got there and how long they lasted and what staples to always keep in the house and how you will be fined by the township if you do not have your sidewalks shoveled within 24 hours of snowfall. The list could go on.

I remember calling home to my mother telling her that I had made a huge mistake. There was no way that I could possibly live here. My new husband was out of town and would be quite frequently and there I would be...snowed in. She listened, sort of, but did not hear or comprehend what I was saying.

The way that I know that fact is when she came up to visit at Easter, in April, the roads were clear, however, snow was still here and there on shady, grassy lawns. On the sides of the roads and in parking lots, there were tall mounds of black stuff. She asked what this was. I told her that it was the snow that the plows kept piling up whenever it did snow. Over time, it turns black from soot and such. My own mother was not believing me. I had to pull over to a pile of the frozen stuff and let her get out of the car to touch it and see for herself.

WOW! I had rarely seen my own mother speechless. I, on the other hand, was not speechless. I rattled on and on, comments such as, "I kept trying to tell you." Finally, I made a believer out of her.

Soon after this, I was pregnant with our first child. I could not get out to shovel the snow and certainly could not handle the big old snow blower when my husband was out of town. He did find someone who would come over and take care of the sidewalks when necessary. Still, I felt as if I were going stark-raving mad staying in the house all of the time when it snowed. Friends would tell me when most parking lots were clear and safe enough for me to walk without having the fear of falling.

Just about the time when my little cherub was 9 months old and I figured that I would have another winter just as the previous one, only now with an infant in tow, I was wrong. Pregnant again, plus a little one who was walking at 9 months. The winters, I might add, go on forever in Pennsylvania.

Surviving the winters was my goal. This included driving in it, shopping in it, and having well adjusted children who wanted to go outside to play in the white stuff. This meant that all of us had to have the proper attire. Not too bad for me, however, with growing children, it meant new outerwear each winter season. I did try to go neutral in colors so that it would be able to be worn by a boy or a girl.

Don't believe everything that you hear about snow in the north. I can tell you from first hand experience that it can snow so much that it does shut down the city. Not just schools! Businesses also would close. Heck, even the airport. When you can't open the door leading to the outside due to the piled up snow? That is way too much snow. Little by little, one learns coping skills. Even using a shovel to not only somehow move the snow to be able to open the door but to also make a path for the dog to get out to go do his business.

Once the children became older they wanted to join the Ski Club and loved going down a very large hill near our home with friends on sleds, boxes or toboggans, whatever was available. My memory is driving down neighborhood roads when they had been plowed and not seeing anything but rooftops and the second floors of two story houses. There were pathways down the driveways to the garages that had been cleared. The trouble was, it would remain so cold that this would stick around for quite some time.

Once I did get back to work, it was at a school. Yes, there were times school closed, even in the north. The smart thing they did was delay it sometimes and still get the day in for the state guidelines. This gave time for road crews and other commuters to take care of the ice and snow on the roads. Even though, snow was still not my favorite thing, I at least did feel confident in driving. 

Let's fast forward through Houston, of which I saw snow flurries once while living there. It lasted for a little over an hour and since the temperatures had been in the 60's that day, there was no problem.

The children and I moved to Memphis. Here there are often ice storms that leave the city in total darkness and snow, which usually was not enough to totally cover the grass in the yards. However, there are enough 'Joe Cools' driving SUV's that believe they can drive as if they are racing in the Indy 500 in their souped up trucks, jeeps, SUV's or cars. Usually, you can find a couple of them on down the road a piece, sideways into a tree or fence. 

You may think this blog is ending with this love/hate relationship with snow in a negative way. Yes, Memphis drivers do not know how to drive in ice and snow. There is no way to drive in ice. Just sit back and wait until it melts or crews throw something down over it. Then the school districts? What can I say? I almost feel sorry for them. ALMOST! If they call school off and a flake has not fallen, parents are going crazy. And, yes, that has happened and it would have been fine to have school that day. Usually, the weather forecast is right and it would not have been safe to be out driving early or perhaps the snow came at noon and now the schools have a bigger problem of getting kids safely home. Then there are complaints that the district did not listen to the forecast, kids arrived at school and by 10 AM we are in a mess, trying to get word out to please come and pick up your children.

Two nightmares I used to have: 
1. Parents would not come for their children and we would have to have a school sleepover.
2. Parents came two hours or more after school was closed while we sat and waited. We were left to try to make it safely to our own homes. 
Nightmare number 1, thankfully, never happened. Nightmare number 2 happened more times than I care to think about. 

On one adventure with my children, I wanted to give them a very special Christmas when we left Houston and moved to Memphis. I can remember us driving across the country to Colorado to meet my brother's family in the Rockies for a ski trip. There was lots of snow and yes there was some tricky spots on the roads. Difference being was that people there respected that. We could go out on the deck of this beautiful chalet and watch it snow, see the wildlife or get in the cars and go skiing. I still have a very special note that my son wrote to me on the back of the Holiday Inn receipt. "Thanks, Mom! This was the best vacation we ever had!" Yes, the tears flowed big time then. 

2018: Retired. Writing in my study. Watching the snow fall and enjoying the beautiful landscape because I do not have anywhere to go.

My new motto is to let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

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