Logic error: snow

Native, lifelong southerners don’t quite know what to make of snow. Snow is, of course, that mystical white stuff that seems to fall in fourteen-foot clumps onto remote places like Buffalo, New York, and the upper peninsula of Michigan. This would be a problem, except that it’s a demonstrable fact that nobody (the Abominable Snowman excepted) actually lives in the UP of Michigan.

As for the eighteen people living in Buffalo, New York: you’re out of luck. Have fun digging; we’ll see you in August. Say hi to the polar bears on your way out, willya?Snow is inconsistent with southerners’ natural states of being. We react to it like pampered house cats—when thrown outside amidst the mess, we stand there, shell-shocked, for a few minutes, and then begin twitching our hands uncontrollably to try to shake the cold stuff off. (If you’ve ever seen a house cat thrown outside in the snow for the first time, you know exactly what motion I’m trying to describe.)

Heat we understand, especially blistering, searing, noonday heat. 110° in July and you’ve got to walk to class? No problem—slather on the sunscreen, take a bottle of water, and walk at a reasonable pace. This isn’t a problem; we deal with it every summer. We are, of course, the same people that scoff at the Chicago folk, who seem to die in plaguelike waves the moment the temperature gets above 65°. It’s not that we’re not sympathetic; it’s that we can’t understand how people can manage to die of heatstroke in ambient temperatures lower than blood heat.

Must be all the snow.

I found a funky little implement in Home Depot one time last fall. I picked it up, perplexed as to its use, because it seemed awful flimsy little thing to do gardening with. A friend had to explain to me that it was a snow shovel. After I got over my gawking-southerner amazement, I found the presence of mind to blurt out, “Who in their right mind would try to sell a snow shovel in Alabama?”

Dan Jensen, lifelong Michigander: “To you, White Christmas is a song. To me, it’s a forecast.”

When I woke up this morning at seven a.m. to an unnatural brightness, I knew what it meant. I bailed out of bed without grabbing my glasses, slid two fingers between two slats of the miniblinds, and looked outside (inasmuch as anyone can actually look when they’re as nearsighted as I am). Even with my complete and utter lack of distance vision, I could tell that the ground was white, not green.

I grabbed my version of Ultimate Writing Gear: the ultimate bathrobe (née Restoration Hardware) and heavy-duty woolen socks (née Eddie Bauer), and sat at the computer and wrote letters for two hours with the window blinds open so I could stare outside, between sentences, and marvel at the coolness that was….

….a half-inch of snow.

Only a lifelong, dyed-in-the-wool, can’t-speak-without-drawling southerner could ever be so entranced by a measly half-inch of snow. Pathetic, isn’t it?

Now, you’ll have to excuse me. I feel a genetic need to go buy bread, milk, and toilet paper…