Southern Snow Day

Folks in Tennessee get excited about snow. We don’t see all that much during the course of the winter. It’s sort of rare that we get enough to effect life in any substantial way. So even the forecast of snow makes people react, or maybe, over-react.

Cars are filled with fuel. Shopping carts are filled with food. Weather is watched. Warnings are issued. Gatherings are cancelled. Life takes on a decidedly different feel when the world turns white down south.

Tuesday was such a morning. I had been up at 5:00 am like normal. I saw that it was raining and the temperature was 41ºF. I grabbed my coffee and retreated to my den to check on the world and current conditions. All typical snow day behavior.

Then at about 6:00 am the rain took on a different look. Flakes started to mix in with it. The ground was still brown and the concrete gray. But in short order both of those conditions changed. In a gradual fade to white, the snow was sticking and the world being transformed. Eventually the driveway, too, was covered and the magic of snow took hold.

Soon the phones were ringing with calls and questions about schedules and details. Folks were checking in and making adjustments. It was certainly not life-threatening, but it was life-altering. It was different out there and changes were in order.

Many schools had already cancelled the night before. Stores were deciding when they should open. The roads were lightly traveled.

A snowy morning down south is cause for celebration in some ways. While it might be possible to get up and go, it begs the question as to why one would have to! Why not just stay at the house, have an extra cup of coffee, relax in some pajamas, read a good book, listen to the silence. In other words why not do something different since the circumstances are different. It’s not just another day. It’s not just a Tuesday. It’s a meteorological occasion for observation.

It’s a way to remember that ‘normal’ is not the only mode of reality. ‘Normal’ can become too routine. ‘Normal’ has little sense of wonder or awe. ‘Normal’ can slip straight into redundant without anyone even noticing. Indeed, not noticing is part of what makes ‘normal’ so mundane. Why bother to look at it? It’s the same as it was yesterday, and the day before that, and last week. ‘Normal,’ by definition, is barely ‘noticed’ at all.

Snow down south does makes us notice. Maybe not stand up and take notice. Maybe not jump to attention and take notice. But notice nonetheless.

I notice the shapes of branches that stand out in sharp contrast. I notice the colors of cardinals against a suddenly white backdrop. I notice how sounds are dampened. I notice that there is less traffic out on the highway. I notice individual tire tracks as I drive down the hill to my appointed rounds. It’s not just weather, it’s wonder.

I remember as a child that there were mornings when I did not know that snow was expected. I can remember waking up to a world that was decidedly more quiet than normal. I can remember the excitement of knowing that there was snow to play in. I can remember the enthusiasm for playing out in the white stuff even with all that meant—wet feet, cold noses, maybe a missing mitten, chilled cheeks and chapped lips. A bowl of hot soup and a change to dry clothes at lunch time was the perfect meal after a morning filled with sledding and snowballs.

Perhaps those childhood memories have shaped my present perspective on snow days. I think adults, too, should take a day every now and then to just relax a bit. Adults should also find moments of enthusiasm and enjoyment by doing nothing more than watching the world and how a subtle change can make a difference. Snow should mean ‘slow,’ especially for those of us who might not always find ‘normal’ life-giving. I said once that “Snow days are God’s way of enforcing Sabbath on southerners.”

My friends in Colorado may chuckle, my friends in Minnesota think me odd, my friends in Alaska will be amused, but I love a snow day down south. It begs me to slow down and notice. It causes me to take caution and not take for granted that I can be anywhere else. It is a great way to say today is an occasion for life, and not necessarily ‘life as normal.’

2 thoughts on “Southern Snow Day

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