Intersections – Shovel and snow
By Nicki Salcedo
I went to Minneapolis during the first week of December. A foot of snow fell the day before I arrived. This is nothing by Minnesota standards, but the Southern girl in me spent the day before hoping that flights would be canceled. They weren’t.
I looked in my closet for my good winter coat. I bought a winter coat years ago specifically for Minnesota. My normal winter jacket is a pea coat from Old Navy which doesn’t cut it in -3 degrees. It makes sense to have a coat just for Minnesota. But when I looked in the closet the good coat was gone. I think I let someone borrow it last year, but now I forget who. So I got on the plane to Minneapolis without a good coat.
I like Minnesota a lot. The people there are “Minnesota Nice.” This is the cold weather equivalent of Southern Hospitality. In Georgia we say silly things. Bless your heart. Love your shoes. How’s your mom? In Minnesota they respond with other silly things. Don’t you know? Did you bring the casserole? Where’s your coat? It is the land of cream of mushroom soup and really good ice cream. It’s weird because it’s rarely hot there, but they’ve got the ice and the dairy thing down to a science. If only they had warmer weather.
I picked up my rental car and inside the trunk I found two things: an ice scraper and a shovel. I hate when I see these two things. It means one thing: snow. They must have confused me for someone else. The reason I don’t have a horse or a dog or live in Poughkeepsie is because I don’t shovel sh!t. (Don’t ask me who scoops the cat’s litter box). I will dig all day long. I will plant a tree. I will dig a trench. Digging is one and done. Anything you have to shovel is likely something that reappears.
I complained about the shovel to my colleagues, but they kindly explained that it might snow so much during the day that I wouldn’t be able to get out of my parking spot without shoveling. Because what I’d like to do after a long day at the office is shovel my way into my car.
At lunch, I met up with one of my college roommates and her kids. She brought me a good coat. Blood red wool with a hood. That Minnesota Nice thing is for real. The kids at the daycare were on the playground even though it was 17 degrees outside. All I could see was the round circles of their two-year-old faces. They were booted and suited and gloved. Several of them were eating the yellow snow. I nodded, impressed. These kids had hardy constitutions.
If they were Southern kids, school would be closed and they’d be watching “Yo Gabba Gabba” while their parents attempted to work from home. Work from home is code for feed your kids all day. But in Georgia we don’t care as long as we don’t have to shovel anything.
And that’s where my snow complaining ends. The streets in Minnesota after 12 inches of snow and Buffalo after 18 inches of snow are completely clear. I walked to the store in Reston, Virginia during last year’s blizzard. The sidewalks were salted and clear. The shopping center had its own truck to plow and salt. It didn’t have to wait for anyone to move the ice and snow. It was business as usual.
What I love best about Atlanta is how snow is not business as usual. We moved to Georgia from Connecticut in the summer of 1981, and we were warned of three things. The Klu Klux Klan, the Atlanta Child Murders, and that we would never ever need our snow gear. My parents abandoned boots and snowsuits and the sled before we left.
Guess what happened in January of 1982? Only the biggest snow storm in Georgia history. That might be an exaggeration, but I was six and my good snowsuit (it was red and it had a hood — there’s a theme here) was in Connecticut.
We learned pretty quickly that Southern kids are resourceful. A cardboard box makes a darned good sled. And Georgia is hilly. There were plenty of good sledding spots even if we were wearing regular sneakers and jeans and soaked to the bone in melting snow. Snow days in Georgia are great. They are fun. They keep us safe. If you are b!tching about the lack of snow plows (that we would need once every other year) and unpredictable school closings, you’ve never experienced the dangers of black ice.
It is hot in Georgia. The ground is pretty warm almost all year. If it snows, it melts. If it melts and it’s cold, the melted snow freezes. That makes ice. There is very little ice in Minneapolis and Buffalo and even Reston. When it gets cold there, it stays cold. The snow stays fluffy and movable. Not in Georgia.
Georgia is like, “Let’s have snow followed by summer followed by a subfreezing gusts of wind! That sounds like fun.”
My driveway couldn’t be shoveled during Snowmageddon 2011 and Snowpocalypse 2014 because it was an inch of solid ice. That’s the work of the devil. I’d rather have 12 inches of snow. If you’ve ever fallen on ice you know, it is better to wait inside. Georgia will cycle through the seasons fast enough that we’ll all be back at school and work the next day.
Would you rather shovel it and go to work or stay inside?
I’ll be in conversation with Lindsay Starck author of “Noah’s Wife” tonight – Wednesday, January 27, 2016, 7:15 p.m. -in the Decatur Library Auditorium. For more information go to the Georgia Center for the Book.
“Intersections,” the book, is a collection of columns from Decaturish.com and beyond. It is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Nicki Salcedo is a Decatur resident and Atlanta native. She is a novelist, blogger, and a working mom. Her column, Intersections, runs every Wednesday morning.