When winter comes to the south, there are few things more glorious for a boy than waking up to dusting of snow, no matter how deep. Its infrequency makes it uniquely wonderful. If there is enough to scrape up one snowball, it is a joyous affair and a school cancellation – well, that upgrades it to heaven on earth. Typically, we southerners get short bursts of freezing temperature with nothing to show for it but a little sleet and ice. But, on occasion…it snows!
It snowed last night in Portsong. When the townspeople awoke, they found a thin blanket of white rarely seen in this part of the country. In fact, there hasn’t been a flake here since the blizzard of 1909 – far too long ago for Virgil and Henry to remember. They had both read about the arctic and Polar Regions, but nothing compared to the oddity of snow covering their own bushes, lawns, and bicycles. With the little town shut down, they woke to a carnival-like atmosphere among the youngsters. Virgil grabbed an old shovel from the cellar while Henry nearly escaped out of the house with his mother’s best baking pan, but had to settle for a scrap of tin under her watchful eye. They met up on Chestnut Street and joined a seemingly endless line of boys headed toward the highest point in town: Curaban Point. It’s a long walk up, but a thrilling ride down! No brakes, just speed. Bumps, bruises, and frozen blood outweighed by giggles, shrieks, and ear to ear smiles.
Having seen his share of cold weather, Colonel Birdwhistle covered his head and ventured out with Oscar on leash as he did every other day. He got a hearty laugh at the typically adventurous dog who gingerly and slowly placed one paw in front of the other, testing and retesting the strange new ground covering before moving. Even the dogs of the south have no way to be prepared for the stuff.
By ten o’clock, little Sally Lee had the beginnings of her first snowman rolled up. With a some help from her daddy, she got its middle up onto the base and began work on his head. Up and down every street in town, the scene was the same: children played, fathers looked skyward wondering if the weather would break, and mothers busied themselves over the stove preparing for their frozen children to come inside. Clothing, cars, and hairstyles change, but from generation to generation, we Southerners still react the same way to the white stuff.
For those of you living in colder regions, I hope your winter is mild and your hearth is warm. But for us in the South, I pray we get a taste of snow this season. You Yanks can laugh all you want when large cities down here come to a grinding halt with a mere six inches. We southern boys will take your ridicule in exchange for a few inches of snow.