Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Southerner Looks At Snow

I remember growing up in the South, we would get one actual snow a winter. My mother has the pictures of me beside our snowman, and the dog bounding through the snow covered yard. I remember the year we trudged up the street to a friend's house to sled. Their house sat on this big, steep hill. To a child it felt like being on a ski mountain.

By the time I was a high schooler, the winters didn't bring snow anymore. We did get "ice storms". There is very little pretty about an ice storm, and certainly nothing about them is fun. The ice would bring down power lines, people lost their lights and heat. The local motels were booked with people trying to find a warm place to sleep and shower. I didn't notice it at the time, but looking at pictures from that time clearly shows the effects of those snowless winters and hot, dry summers. Our grass went from healthy, thick, deep green to a sparse covering of dull yellowish green. Even the trees had less leaves and they were not the glossy green of my younger days. In addition, temperatures that rarely went below, and even more rarely stayed for any length of time, below freezing increased the pest population. Fleas and ticks abound, mosquitoes became almost a year round problem.

When we moved North, as winter approached the children and I chanted "snow snow snow snow"! We didn't really have any idea what we were in for. When Mother Nature blankets the North in deep, white snow, she really makes sure it is covered. My husband, bless his heart, had been up here for several winters as this is where he has worked for several years. Worked outside 365 days a year, I might add. He knew exactly what was coming.

The first winter, the snow was beautiful. Sparkly white, calf deep snow. The kids went out a few times to throw snowballs and build snowmen. I stocked up on hot chocolate and marshmallows. We went to a nature preserve to sled. It was beautiful, all the sledding families and, out on the pond, small tents dotted the ice as men ice fished. "Just gorgeous", I thought to myself.

There Is Nothing Quite Like Snow Covered Evergreens

Who Needs Snowblowers? WE DO!!
The second winter.....the second winter was the polar vortex of 2014. In a word, it was horrible. Frigid temperatures, what felt like six months of gray dusk, snow being dumped on us week after week. "This is terrible", I thought to myself. The kids and I ended up spending January - March back with my mother down South. I later learned that even lifelong Northerners had been stunned by the harshness of that winter.

This year has been better. Winter here is still much bleaker than it is in the South. Where it is dark by 5:00 at the shortest of winter days back home, it begins to get dark at 3:30 here and is dark by 4:15. You may tell yourself forty five minutes can't matter that much, but this also seems to last a bit longer here, and when you've had gray skies with no visible sun all day....well, it matters. Still, as I said, this winter has been a cake walk compared to last year. We tend to have at least one bright, sunny day with brilliant blue skies and puffy white clouds a week. Sometimes two or three such days in a row. While we have had below zero days and single digit days, we have also had some days that were quite warm  for this area. A few days in December reached the mid forties which now seems like a balmy day on the beach!

The children all now own thermals, snow bibs, true winter coats (back home a winter coat was usually a fleece jacket), insulated, weather proof boots. And the hats and gloves! Oh the hats and gloves we now possess!

All Bundled Up!

The upside to these months of dreary days filled with nothing but black, white, and gray is that Spring and Summer here are glorious. A bit cooler than this Southern lady might like, but the thick green grass of our lawn and the canopies of dark green, glossy leaves blowing gently in the breeze makes up for that. The days we spend outside in our backyard grilling, playing frisbee, watching our children play tag with the neighborhood children give me many memories to carry in my heart through these cold, foreign months and for that, I love the North.

Summer Is Still My Favorite Season

Have you ever moved to an area with a new climate? Was it hard for you? It was for us! What is your favorite season where you live now?

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