This is the winter

Sallie Satterthwaite's picture

This is the winter our grandkids will mean when they tell their grandchildren, “You call this snow? Ha! Once we had snow so deep I could stand up in it and disappear. This is nothing! Predicting another 18 inches tonight? Pshaw! We had three feet in Virginia in the Winter of 2010, without drifting. In just one day. With another two feet predicted for the next day.”

This is the winter newscasters will recall giving the news while snowflakes blow crosswise across their faces. Even among women reporters it’s a macho thing. Even if the news is about nothing related to snow.

This is the winter they’re running out of clichés. “Wintry mix” and “Snow event” are so trite. I did hear a reporter standing as close to the White House as she could, wondering out loud what you call the big front-end loader that was trying desperately to stay ahead of the blizzard. “The Presidential Snowplow?” she ventured. “Snowplow One?”

This is the winter that snow days were doled out by the week, in Loudon County, Va. instead of by the day. The governor has declared a state of emergency, and teachers are hoping they can cover all they have to teach without borrowing from summer vacation.

This is the winter that mamas don’t worry too much about little boys getting wet. The first couple of days she wouldn’t let them go out at all because the power was out and there was no way to dry coats and mittens. Once it came back on, Jean let them stay out to their hearts’ content, seeming not the least bit concerned that those poor little red digits would snap right off in the cold.

This is the winter that is perfect for little boys who love dump trucks. “Monster trucks” they call them, or are they two different things? I wish I could be there to watch. Samuel dug a “road” from the new deck to the back of their yard, with driveways to let cars turn off the main “road,” just like the real snowplows have done in front of their house. Somehow she is managing to keep home-school open and up to date.

This is the winter to test one’s own preparedness. Brian keeps an emergency generator for such a winter. But when he tried to start it, it was no go. Something about needing oil to mix with the gasoline. Never mind. The house lends itself well to staying warm. It’s the third townhouse in a strip of about a dozen, hence wonderfully insulated on each side.

This is the winter that our in-house septuagenarian might outdo the biggest storm he remembers. When he was going to school at Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics, he was on his way back from Thanksgiving when a snow storm turned into a true blizzard along the western Pennsylvania Turnpike. The snow reached 18 inches and the front bumper of his 1934 Studebaker worked like a snowplow until the sheer bulk of snow made it grind almost to a halt. He pulled a safe distance off the highway and abandoned his car. The driver of the 18-wheeler behind him saw it coming, slowed down and signaled him to jump up on the step and get into the cab for the rest of his journey.

After the snowplows did all they could, people went back out to find their cars, now totally invisible, with blankets of snow thrown over them. He and his roommate had the foresight to carry with them wooden sticks to find the Studebaker.

This is the winter, the very first winter, that our daffodils did not bloom among the trees around our house before January ended. They’re a batch we brought with us when we moved from our previous Peachtree City house. And those had started life around an old home place just before it was to be paved over by Robinson Road. I’ve bragged on them for the 39 years we’ve lived in Peachtree City. I hope they keep their heads down a little longer. I’d hate to lose them now.

This is the winter little boys will remember. If I last another 10 years, remind me to ask them what they recall about the Winter of 2010.