It snowed today. It’s January; there’s supposed to be snow in the winter, isn’t there? That’s the way it always works with the four seasons. But you don’t understand. It snowed in Nashville. We have seasons here, and we have snow – sometimes. However, it is a rare event and not often enough for people to know exactly what to do about it when it happens.
It isn’t as if the snow was unpredicted. Every since last week, the weathermen have been jumping up and down screaming, “SNOW coming!” No one believed them. “Yeah, yeah, you said that last time and it didn’t happen.” Like the people in the proverb of boy that “cried wolf” too often, we quit believing.
On the nightly news, “SNOW, SNOW, it’s going to SNOW!” This morning we looked out the window – no snow. So everyone went to work as usual, figuring predictions were wrong again, as always. Then it happened – SNOW started to fall – lots of snow, big snowflakes, falling fast. Office workers pressed their noses against the windows, staring in disbelief. SNOW? SNOW! Almost before people could decide whether to go home, the ground was covered.
It fell rapidly, inches in an hour. Childcare facilities began closing. The snow continued to fall. Panic! People started going home. Schools closed. The snow continued to fall, almost in defiance of our disbelief. Auto accidents occurred, hundreds of accidents, multi car accidents of the kind that close down Interstates. Traffic is soon in a gridlock. Kids can’t get home from school because busses can’t get there to get them.
Offices close by mid afternoon. Courts close. Shopping malls close. Remember that this is the South. S-n-o-w spells disaster. The snow continues to fall. People in the South don’t have a clue about how to drive in snow. Wheels spin as they accelerate too fast; then they panic and hit the brakes. After all, how do you learn to drive in snow? Well, you learn by doing it. And in a city where snow is a rarity, so is snow driving experience.
The snow continues, wet snow, snow that sticks to everything. It is beautiful as it clings to the branches of trees and covers everything with a white blanket. We gaze at the winter scene and wonder how something so pretty can cause so much trouble. Some give up and get hotel rooms, deciding it isn’t worth the effort to try to get home. Others, stranded on the highways, seek shelter at truck stops along the way, waiting for accidents to be cleared and roads to reopen.
By the time the snow quits falling, it is the biggest snowfall in many years in Nashville. We remembered snow, but after so many years without very much, we had closed it out and denied the possibility. Complacency has now been replaced by reality. The snow finally had mercy on the defeated city and stopped. On the highways, abandoned cars litter the roadside and ditches.
For one who has lived in Chicago and St. Louis where snow is the norm instead of the exception, the disaster seems unbelievable. To one who has lived in Nashville and seen snow in the South before, disaster is expected. Safe at home, we are happy to be out of harm’s way.
Buried in white stuff, we wonder where the snow shovel is and finally decide to wait until tomorrow and let it melt. Thankfully, snow in Nashville doesn’t happen very often and seldom lasts very long.
Copyright 2003 Sheila Moss