We’ve been lucky so far this winter in the Cincinnati metro area with
only a couple of snowflakes for us. I’m putting up Christmas lights
this weekend, so I’m not complaining. I’ve got a weird relationship
with snow. I like the stuff in theory, but after a couple of months
of it I get tired of it. Except I love shoveling it. You read that
right. I love shoveling snow. Of all physical activity labeled
“work,” shoveling snow is easily my favorite. And I mean shoveling.
No snowblowers (though I imagine that would be really cool). I think
it as something to do with the sense of accomplishment, or some
underlying desire to drive a bulldozer. I don’t know1.
a kid. I experienced snow, had sleds, the whole bit, but when I was
in the 6th grade we moved to Houston and that was pretty much that.
Until I graduated from high school there were maybe a half-dozen ice
storms (including one memorable one over Thanksgiving when we were on
Padre Island), but that was it. I did learn to utterly abhor hot
weather2. Something weird happened when I left Houston. I became a magnet for
record snowfalls. I go to college in San Antonio for a year. We got
12″ of snow. Shut the place down for three days. I don’t recall any
record snows in Nacogdoches or Athens, GA when I lived there, but when
I moved to Asheville, NC. we got hammered that first winter. In March
we got what I think was a record at the time with 8 or 9 inches in a
single storm, I don’t remember the exact figure. Then I moved to
Philadelphia where the first winter we got 27.5″ inches in one storm.
Then I came here where, as usual, we got a big snow that first winter. So I read today that Houston is going to get a snow today. The rest of
the country (at least where snow is a regular thing) will laugh and
point. “Oh, look at those dumb Texans” blah, blah, blah. Screw that. My message to all my compadres back in Texas is this:
people freak out about snow in most of the country. There are places
that handle it without too much fuss: Cleveland. Chicago, Buffalo,
Michigan in general. Boston and New England. Pretty much the entire
Great Plains. But get outside the areas where snow isn’t a
twice-a-week thing from December to March and people freak. It
happened in Philly. It happens here. The first forecast of snow and
you can forget finding bread or milk or eggs at Kroger. What is it
about snow that makes people want to make French Toast? And all the
television “news” folks stake out the salt storage facility on I-75 to
report that, yes, snow is falling from the sky and there’s a big pile
of salt that is getting smaller as it’s being put on roads. (I should
say,as someone who enjoys shoveling snow, that I think the road crews
around here do a great job and don’t freak out.) Everyone else?
Absolutely nuts. Anyway, here’s my advice to all my family and friends in the Houston
area today (who didn’t immigrate from the frozen north): If you can
stay home to enjoy it, do it. Be glad it doesn’t happen every day,
but don’t get any inferiority complexes over the clusterf*cks that are
sure to pop up today. They happen everywhere. If you have to get out
in it, deal with it like it was a really heavy July rainstorm. Drive
in it the same way and you’ll be fine. Slow down. It takes more than
3-times the distance to stop, so plan accordingly. And take pictures. Lots of pictures. Post them. I want to see them. And don’t forget to have fun with it.
1If you live in Cincinnati and you are reading this, the
answer is no. I will not come shovel your driveway. I enjoy it, but
2July of 1980. Stuck at a dead stop in rush hour traffic
at 610 West in front of the then-Transco Tower. Typical summer day: 97
degrees and about the same in humidity. A/C busted in car.
Vowed then and there that I was getting the hell out of Houston.