Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Stop me if you've heard this one before

Thomas Jefferson recorded daily weather observations from his mountaintop home in Virginia for fifty years, starting in 1776, so why, every winter, do many Virginians act like snow is a terrifying and alien substance?  Why does a relatively benign form of precipitation, which, in our mild climate, doesn't often fall in massive quantities and usually melts within a few days, cause people to plan and prepare as if they are facing Armageddon? Snow is a normal part of the Virginia winter.  We moved here in 1998, and have never seen a winter with no snow, so it's a mystery that it throws people into a panic every single year.  How did we become such pussies?  It's embarrassing, people!  Don't you know that everyone in Buffalo is laughing at us?  A popular winter past time in Buffalo is to laugh at news footage of southerners flummoxed by snow.

A "storm" was forecast for Tuesday.  One county closed their schools and others had delays even though there was virtually no precipitation.  The city schools stayed open.  All anybody could talk about was the weather forecast.  The "storm" turned out to be a cloudy, drizzly day, with a dusting of snow and mildly slick conditions in the late afternoon and evening.

The local TV news crews have a lot to answer for, in my opinion.  They want us to believe that we won't be able to function without their "storm teams" to guide us.  I love it when they dress some newsroom low life in a parka and send him out to a street corner with a yardstick.  Every fifteen minutes, they'll do an "update" and the parka guy will have to come up with something to say to distract people from the fact that there is no snow falling yet. 

I enjoyed a snow day power play.  For those of you unfamiliar with hockey, a "power play" is when the opposing team has a member in the penalty box.  For a brief time, your team outnumbers your opponent and it's a good opportunity to score a goal.  With the citizens of Charlottesville stuck in the penalty box of their snow phobia,  I was able to run all sorts of errands efficiently.  Of course I was too sensible to visit the grocery store but there was no one in line at the bank, no one donating goods to the Salvation Army, and we were able to get a walk-in appointment at a hair salon for Seamus.  In the evening, no one was at the mall, where I took Ian to get pants that fit his skinny new body.  Presumably, everyone was at home eating Wonder Bread sandwiches and admiring their stocks of toilet paper.  It was a fabulously productive day despite the fact that I worked all night, and got less than four hours of sleep in the morning. This morning, the city schools were open as usual, but the county had a delay.  I headed to Whole Foods about 9:00am and was virtually the only customer.  I heard the staff speculating that the lack of shoppers was related to the county's delay--all those parents stuck at home twiddling their thumbs, waiting for school to start. 

From now on, any time I hear of a snow storm forecast for Charlottesville, that will be the day I visit the DMV or the post office.


  1. I giggle when southern states get drifts--because of course us northerners have it ALL figured out, right?

  2. You know what I think? I think people are excited about the possibility of not having to go to work or school. The fever spreads, and pretty soon the whole city is up in arms about the snow, teetering on the edge of their sofas, watching the news reports in anticipation. Whereas, in other areas, you're just expected to drive to work in the snow. No big deal. Those are my thoughts, at least.

  3. You're very smart.

    They were predicting snow here Tuesday night, and everyone was like, "Yes! Snow! We want a day off!" and I was like, "No, no, no, this is not at all a convenient time for snow!" And I won. No snow. Happy ending.