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Let it snow, let it snow … somewhere else

Submitted by on Saturday, 19 December 2009 No Comment

tammy_snow copySitting on the patio in my pajamas in 56 sunny degrees, I felt guilty this morning.

Guilty because, when word of an impending blizzard filtered through Facebook yesterday evening, I called my mom around 6:30 p.m. our time to taunt. “The only snowmen we’ll be making here will be out of socks. You can have your white Christmas. There’s a reason I live in California.”

“Yeah, but what about earthquakes?” she asked.

“We’ve always lived on the right side of the fault. When the coast falls into the Pacific, we’ll have the ocean-front property,” I said.

I hung up and we went back to our sock snowmen. The report from a Facebook friend and former co-worker: Eight inches of snow already in Beckley, a town high in the Appalachians where I’d lived for seven years. Still, Beckley’s elevation means it usually gets more snow than the rest of the southern part of the state, so I wasn’t taking the storm that seriously.

Plus growing up in the mountains means you’ve survived plenty of storms, some real and some imagined.

The best for entertainment value was in the late 1970s, when then-Gov. Jay Rockefeller declared a state of emergency based on the forecast. Schools closed early, but there was no vacation for the three kids in our household. We came home and received orders to form a line to help relay wood into the basement so we’d be ready when the big one hit. It never did.

A few decades later, living in the first home I’d owned, I wished I had that wood. An early October ice storm knocked my power out for three days. I slept on a friend’s couch and ordered a load of firewood as soon as it was over.

Then, in spring 1993, a late-March storm caught the eastern seaboard by surprise. I’d been at friends’ for pizza and movies that Friday evening and came home scoffing at the forecast even as flurries began to fall. I wasn’t scoffing by the next morning, when the overnight accumulation reached past the rear bumper on my Ford Escort.

I shoveled three times that day before I gave up. It just kept coming down and, besides, even after it quit falling plows that cleared the streets but buried small cars in their driveways held me hostage for the better part of a week. At least I had firewood that time. And a friend with a four-wheel drive who shuttled me to work on Tuesday – I’d walked to work in a ski suit Monday and nearly went ballistic after I got there and a higher-ranking manager asked if someone could deliver his newspaper because the carriers couldn’t make it out. Um, no.

The common thread woven through all the catastrophes: Sooner or later, it stops being fun. With the current storm, that point hit “sooner,” as Friday’s gleeful predictions of a white Christmas turned to Saturday’s realities of dealing with more than two feet of snow on the ground and flakes still falling from the sky.

A friend from grade school shoveled and fretted overnight as her husband’s hour-long drive home turned into a nine-and-a-half hour journey over roads reduced to one lane and dotted with fallen branches.

A high school buddy snow-shoed feed out to her horses this morning, to her kid’s delight but not necessarily hers.

Numerous friends, plus my parents, cranked up generators as the power failed Friday night. My folks had sock_snowmanturned theirs on right after we’d talked to them. They have enough juice to keep the phones charged and the blower working on the wood stove.

They decided they needed to go out this morning, to check on one of my brother’s dogs a mile or so up the road. They stopped by the post office on the way, but there were no new deliveries.

No wonder. My old newspaper reports cars stranded along major highways, with the National Guard unable to navigate around backed-up traffic. Tens of thousands of people are without power, and some might not see service restored until after Christmas.

White Christmas, indeed. I’m glad I’m not there to enjoy it, though I still feel a bit guilty as I sip coffee on my patio.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. Snow picture courtesy of Tammy King Neal. All rights reserved.

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