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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

snow, living in the south

Preparing for a Blizzard

At his suggestion that we share his article, I am turning this blog over to a fellow MWSA member today.  Enjoy!

As the first snows fall I prepare myself for a blizzard. Having been born in Virginia but raised in Michigan (The Winter Wonderland) I’m familiar with snow. Snow and I go way back. Of course I live outside of Washington DC now and if they get a half-an-inch of powder, local officials and civilians wet themselves out of fear, panic, excitement, and the thought of rednecks driving four-wheel drive trucks and SUV’s at 60 mph on roads covered with ice…oblivious to the laws of physics and commons sense.So, how do I brace for a blizzard?
 Here’s Blaine Pardoe’s tips for blizzard survival:
  • Move the snow often. Don’t wait for it to end to get started.Pretend the snowblower is a tank. It makes driving it much more fun.
  • Be creative…did you know you can spell obscene words in your yard with a snowblower or shovel? Experiment!
  • Torture the dog. Two feet is a shitload of snow. So you have to dig out a path and, shall we say, dumping ground, for your dog. Indulge yourself. Make a maze. See just how smart your dog really is.
  • Avoid individuals with snowplow blades on the front of their trucks. They just put them on and frankly have no idea what they’re doing or how much they stick out.When the dude shows up and offers to plow your driveway for $100…mooning him is a viable option.
  • Your kids are worthless when it comes to shoveling snow. Don’t count on them. The first and last time I asked for their help I saw my son making snow angels and my daughter attempting to permanently bury him in snow.
  • Don’t be in a rush. There’s no place to go even if you could get out.At some point you will have the urge to leave your house. This is the kind of thinking that killed the Neanderthals. Stay at home.
  • Remember this formula one glass of alcohol per two inches of snowfall. Finally math has meaning!
  • Always plow out for the mail. They won’t come, but it creates the illusion that you believe they will.
  • Layers count in this weather. Please use your own clothing.
  • Nothing sucks as badly as the TV schedule when you are trapped in the house. Might I recommend a good book? I can definitely recommend a good author.
  • This is not a good time to try and teach your significant other to learn to play BattleTech.
  • Limit your photographing and posting of photos of snow. We get it. It’s a blizzard.
  • Beware the wind. Ever blow snow into a gust of wind? Don't. Trust me on this one...it doesn't blow - it sucks.Just remember, nature, gravity, momentum, wind, and the laws of physics are all working against you during a blizzard. And those are the fun parts.
  • There is no good way to dress. If you are warm, you're too warm and sweating. If you are cold, you're freezing. I don't make the rules, I just play by 'em.
  • Don't push your snow into the street. That's a douchbag move if there ever was one.
  • Don't curse the snowplow driver when they heap everything in the road in front of your driveway. 1. They didn't do it on purpose (despite the look they gave you when they passed by). 2. No matter how bad you day is going, they are out driving a snowplow in a blizzard. Be cool. Be a dude.

Feel free to use the comments section to add your own tips! Share as you deem appropriate.

Is It Spring Yet?


 
            March has only two real holidays, both of them commonly associated with the color green.  The first day of Spring comes in March, and we have every reason to expect the world to turn green.  In Memphis, though, you can't count on that.  Statistically, it is as likely to snow on March 20 as on any day of winter.

 If the neighborhood does not turn not white from snow in March, the Bradford pear trees will produce enough white blossoms to make it look like snowfall. At the same time, the wonderful old post oaks in the south grow long fuzzy catkins in the Spring, and they are capable of producing enough pollen paint your car yellow if you park under one. Green will simply have to wait.

            The most dependable signs of Spring are the migrations.  Our little juncos and red-winged blackbirds will be heading north, along with those other snow-birds, the folks from along the U. S./Canada border, who have been keeping warm in Florida all winter. You'll see them on the interstate, chugging along in their overloaded motor homes.  Another migration path leads south in March – northern college students on Spring Break.  You'll want to avoid them on the highways, too. 

There will be a vertical migration as well.  Do you want to know how close Spring really is?  Check to see how far down in the dirt you have to dig to find an earthworm.  Their migrations may only cover a distance of six inches or so, but when they start to stick their wormy little heads up in your garden, Spring is definitely here.

This yea r I’m not taking any chances.  We're in  in South Carolina, which seems like cheating a bit.  Yes, the first day of Spring will be sunny and warm.  But then every day this week has been sunny and warm.  I hope you’re warm and sunny, too, wherever you are.  But if you’re facing another blizzard, think about all those poor little worms huddled underground, just like you.  And remember, these are the days you’ll long for in August!
 

February is an "F" word

 I think it's time we did something about February!  It's already the shortest month, thanks to Julius Caesar, who revised the calendar for us.  His astronomers Failed to reconcile a 365¼ -day solar cycle with a 291/2-day lunar one, so they ended up with one month shorter than the others.  I'm grateful they made it February rather than wasting two of the lovely days of June.  Personally, I would have been even happier if they had made it only 20 days long.   After all, what does February have going for it?  The days are getting a bit longer, but when the sky is gray and ugly all day long, it's hard to get excited about the sun rising a minute earlier than the day before.  The glitter and fun of the holidays is over.  All we have  left are the unpaid bills, Freezing temperatures and the unexplainable extra Five pounds on the scales.

February seems to have its own "F" word – "Fat." Magazines on every news counter are telling us to "Lose Ten Pounds by Tomorrow" and "Walk Off Your Belly Fat."  Makes you want to get  up in the morning, doesn't it?   And the weather  -- if it's going to snow in Memphis, it'll snow in February. Now, if we had those Flakes back in November, we'd all have been singing "Over the river and through the woods."  If they came in December, we'd be crooning about "Frosty the Snowman" and "Sleighrides." But February snow?  "I'm Dreaming of a White Groundhog" just doesn't cut it. 

And speaking of groundhogs, have you thought about the Freaky-ness of February holidays?  We start the month by waiting for a glimpse of a bleery-eyed and Fuzzy rodent, hoping he'll tell us that winter is over.  Actually February 2 used to be celebrated in pagan Europe as a cross-quarter day, halfway between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox.  Christians made it into Candlemas Day, 40 days after the birth of Jesus and a time for the blessing of the year's supply of candles. Punxsutawney Phil, of course, is a purely American invention: he made his first official weather Forecast on February 2, 1887.  Where did we get that idea?  I haven't a clue.  

Then there's Valentine's Day – a time for sweethearts everywhere, right?  Well, maybe not.  The real St. Valentine was a Christian priest in 269 A.D., in the reign of Claudius II.  Legend tells us that he was thrown into prison for his beliefs, and while he was there,  he made Friends with his jailor's daughter.  When he was taken out to be executed, he left her a Farewell note, signed, "Your Valentine."  The day just happened to be February 14, the Roman Festival of Lupercalia, in which Roman girls drew names out of a box to see who their  lover would be in the coming year.  So the two ideas--lovers and friendly farewell notes—gradually grew into our current celebration of hearts and flowers.  The next time someone asks you to "Be My Valentine," however, you might want to remember what happened to the first Valentine!  

In mid-month we have Lincoln's Birthday and Washington's Birthday.  A few years ago, there was an attempt to reduce those two holidays to one by creating a Presidents' Day.  Now we have three days, none of which seems to be celebrated with any enthusiasm.  After all, what do you do for a dead president?  You could bake a cherry pie, I suppose, since it's also National Cherry Month.  Or you could honor Lincoln by celebrating Black History Month and  International Friendship Month.  Still, these holidays don't really get the blood racing.  

Then there's Mardi Gras, which can fall can on any Tuesday between February 3 and March 9.  This year it doesn't happen until March 8, but during most years, it's just another one of those February holidays. In the medieval world, Mardi Gras was the last day of Carnivale, a period of silliness that began back on January 6 and extended up to the first day of Lent.  It was a time when everyone ignored the ordinary rules of society and the prohibitions of religion for a short while.  But Mardi Gras also carried a stern warning that the season for repentance was at hand.  All meat, oil, and eggs had to be consumed before midnight, since Lent brought with it 40 days of Fasting.  In French Mardi Gras means "Fat Tuesday," and there's that "F" word again.  

Maybe we just ought to give in and celebrate everything that comes along in February, in the Fervent hope that it will make the month go Faster.  Here are a few other opportunities for Frivolity.  This Friday will be "Create a Vacuum Day,' which also happens to be "Thank a Mailman Day."  The second Monday in February is "Clean Out Your Computer Day." The 15th  is "National Gumdrop Day," and the 16th is "Do A Grouch a Favor Day."  The whole month has been designated "Responsible Pet Owners Day," with a special nod on the 23rd for "International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day." Hope you'll find something to make the month special for you.  

Snowmageddon!

One of the advantages of living in the Memphis area is the weather.  I can count no more than four major snow events that we've experienced in the 22 years we've lived here.  When it does snow, however, panic ensues.

The first warnings for last night's snowfall came early last week.  On Thursday, road crews were out spraying a brine solution on the pavement to prevent icing (which might occur on Sunday or Monday!).  On Friday, when I made my usual grocery run, the Kroger lot was jammed full of cars, and crowds inside were stripping the shelves of those French toast necessities -- milk, bread, and eggs.  

Saturday morning, the local paper carried a re-designed schedule for delayed garbage pickups on Monday.  Costco overflowed on Saturday afternoon with whole families standing in the aisles looking dazed. We referred to them as "Costco amateurs" since they apparently couldn't figure out where to find anything might be found.  Even so, most were pushing those huge flatbed pallets, not just shopping carts. Outside, the line for cheap gas extended out of the station and tangled with the line of shoppers trying to get in and out of the main parking lot.

Sunday morning, the closing announcements started to appear on local TV stations. We noticed that churches were the first to announce there would be no evening services, even though it was perfectly clear outside. They were closely followed by day cares, and then whole school districts.  By last night, when the first flurries drifted past the window, the local area was locked down tight.

So what did we get?  Somewhere between 2 and 3 inches here, with calm winds and temperatures around 30 degrees.  It's beautiful, particularly since nothing is moving outside to break that pristine white blanket -- no tire tracks, no newspaper delivery, not even a bird flying or a dog  or child romping in the snow.

OK, I'm making fun, and I apologize to my southern friends.  But I've had my bit of snow experience -- growing up in northern Ohio, spending 4 years in Canada, some 200 miles north of Toronto, and finishing with a dozen years in the mountains of Colorado. Nothing compares to the threat of snowfall in western Tennessee.  Granted, when you expect snow every winter, you also rely on certain other necessities, like snowplows and snow shovels, snowsuits and boots, insulated houses and reliable utilities.  Here, no one is equipped for this, not even the city road crew and utilities.  Add to that, a different type of road construction -- roads beveled rather than flat, so that rain water will run off harmlessly into the ditch. Of course, the same thing happens to cars when there's a bit of ice!

We'll be joining the natives today -- hunkering downing front of the fireplace with a good book and something yummy baking in the oven -- waiting for spring, which just might appear next week!