Friday, December 14, 2007

Snow Terror

I'm not ready to come right out and say which city and state I live in. Someone could easily put two and two together and figure it out. I'm not sure I'm ready for that just yet. And many friends IRL do know where I live. I do want to write this in response to Holly’s post about shoveling snow. I’m a little in awe of all her shoveling, by the way.

Let's just say, I do not live in a midwest or western state bordering Canada. Some of those states (think Montana through Michigan) get a ton of snow during the winter. Winter there can start as early as October and last through April. Three feet of snow would not be unusual. 60 days of grey weather (no sun) from January through March is also not unusual. Having lived through that much grayness - let me tell you, it s*cks. You start to wonder if you will ever see the sun again. You try to figure out why everything seems so dreary and depressing. I wondered when I lived there why I really disliked winter.

To give you another example of the differences (even four hours north), in my driver's ed courses, we practiced turning into the skid (in "the simulator" - a room with a large television screen and fake wheels, accelerators and brakes). That's in the event that your wheels spun out in the snow (you turn in the direction of the skid, in case anyone was wondering). My husband said that they had no such training here (in fact, I'm not sure the state pays for driver's ed, which is a difference).

Not only that, to show my age, in 1993 when I was in high school, we actually had the first school cancellation they had had in YEARS (someone threw out the date of 20 years if I remember correctly). It wasn't really a snow issue, it was too cold to get the buses started. Schools are cancelled here all the time - for even six inches of snow.

There is no snow on the ground where I live currently (even in mid December). Well, there are piles of melting snow in parking lots, but that's it. And there may be (wait for it) 6 inches over the weekend. Some less than hardy people are freaking out. "I'm staying in Saturday!" they exclaim. They refuse to drive with two inches of snow on the ground. I am not exaggerating this. It's common for it to not snow before Christmas.

We do have something called "black ice" here, which we didn't have in the more northern states. That's where it looks like the road is wet, but it's really slippery. And people here don't seem to drive better in the snow, everyone drives too fast. Also, the city doesn't pay to have our side streets plowed, so it can get rather dicey when there is some snow on the ground.

So it's always really an odd position for me when everyone starts complaining about the cold and the two inches of snow here. Okay, so we can get up to a foot each year. New year's eve a few years back, we may have received two feet. Everything was closed for days.

People start lining up at the local stores to stock up on salt, bread, batteries - again, when even six inches is predicted. I guess I look at it from the perspective of states where snow is on the ground from October to March. Where shoveling snow every morning or every other morning may not be unusual. Where you own a good pair of boots and gloves - even to walk from your car into work each day because you need them.

I'm not saying that where I live there's no need to be nervous about snow - or that it's not important to be careful. Or that shoveling doesn't s*ck. Maybe, if I worked in the same area I grew up in, I would have heard the same type of naysayers who would flip out over the snowfall (or potential snowfall).

But sometimes it just seems a little silly given that I know exactly what life could be like if we really got a lot of snow - all the time.


Freckle Face Girl said...

:) I haven't even seen snow since I lived in Denver (1997 - 1998). I don't miss it very much, but it would be nice to go sledding or something once a year.

eric said...

When I lived in North Carolina, an inch of snow shut down the entire city. In fact, in the 80s there was a policy at the school district that the public schools would be closed one day for every inch of snow.

The city barely plowed anything - they only kept enough plows and road treatment to handle a few major arteries. Black ice was a regular intruder in our neighborhood.

At the mere hint of snow, people would inundate the local grocery stores for bread, milk, and eggs. Often, people didn't understand why they had to buy these things, but felt compelled to merely because everyone else was.

In 2000, we had about 24" of snow drop in on the area around Raleigh. It shut everything down for a few days, and made travel extremely difficult for weeks.

Gotta love snow in the south...

laura said...

Oh, yes, the freaking out about half an inch of snow--that always cracked me up.

Michael Carr - Veritas Literary said...

I live in one of those northern states and we just got pounded with snow. It's beautiful and we need it since we run an inn near a ski resort, but there's no question that when it starts to be measured in feet, it can be exhausting just to move the stuff out of the way so it doesn't block driveways and collapse roofs.

Aerin said...

Thanks FFG - I think in this state it's a good mix, some snow, but not too much.

eric - yes - the plowing is a big deal here. Those are the worst streets, even with 6 inches of snow, the streets turn to ice.

laura - I knew you would appreciate this, having lived in this city at one point!

kingm - yes - the collapsing roofs are very dangerous. Glad there is snow for you this year - I know last year there wasn't as much snow.