Monday, January 26, 2009

Wintry Mix

The weatherman says it may snow or sleet or send freezing rain down upon us. One forecast calls for "freezing dribble" tomorrow and "freezing rain" on Wednesday.

I won't be driving in either if I can help it. I do not do ice very well.

I remember when we used to have real snow in this part of Virginia. Snow drifts climbed as high as the windows on the big yellow school bus.

We went to school while the dirt roads were still covered, with chains on the bus wheels knocking against the hub covers. The sound was ferocious, a horrid echo like gunfire inside the bus.

I guess that would never happen now; students no longer go to school with chains on the buses. One flake falls and the school doors close.

One year it snowed and we didn't leave the farm where I grew up for nearly a month. Schools were closed for a very long time. By the time we returned to class even the most school-hating bad boy was glad to get out of his house.

I remember one year the snow was about 16 inches deep. The moon came out bright and huge. The air snapped with cold. My parents and my brother and I, sleighs in tow, went traipsing across the fields and up into a new road that had been cut on the neighbor's property. When we could ride the sleighs downhill we did so; otherwise we took turns pulling one another (my father of course did most of the pulling).

I think I was 14.

Those deep snows left us in the late 1980s and except for an anomaly in about 1993 have not returned. We had about 24 inches in 1993; that snow knocked out our power for 10 days. My husband and I heated the house with the fireplace and when the roads cleared I drove to Salem to take a shower at my grandmother's house. That was the most welcome bath I ever had in my life, after having had sponge baths for a week.

Here is a Roanoke Times story about the winters we used to have.

There is something serene and compelling about snow. It makes the world pause and take a breath.

And I think right now a great many of us really do need to breathe.


  1. You know the school systems are itchy to close down, too. Here in Roanoke city they haven't had any snow days yet.

  2. I thought it was always that way, that they canceled school at the drop of a snowflake. As a northerner we went to school in deep snow. If we didn't we'd never go at all. The winters have been getting shorter and milder since I've been here (came in 86). Since we've lived in the cabin we had to get plowed out only once and that was probably in 93. You have a good memory.

  3. While the winters are still too cold for this wooz, I have heard from old time residents how much colder and how much more snow there use to be in SW Virginia. Ergo, the ongoing drought conditions we're having. I wonder if conditions will ever return to what once was...

  4. I really enjoyed your snow memories of past. Growing up in San Diego, we of course never got a snow day,lol...we'd get out early sometimes because it was too hot.
    The kids are excited over the snow day today, but where's the snow?! Icy roads though scare me and I refuse to drive when there's the chance of it.

  5. I wish it would have snowed today. I need some nice snow shots and wanted to make some soup and bread. It's a snow thing. The schools closed in anticipation but thus far it's only rain. When I went to school in NY they never closed, even in a blizzard!

  6. I really wish it would snow a good snow once this winter. I remember the 1993 snow and making snow caves in it!

  7. Amen to that! I miss days like that.


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