By Tim Sullivan
No one appreciates the creative weather-naming exclamations of 2014 more than me: SNO.M.G.! ICEPOCALYPSE! SLEET’s getting REAL! But SnowJam in January was two inches, right? Two weeks later, we had the ice, snow and sleet that closed schools and businesses for days and prompted an historic run on the bread shelves. What is it with the bread, anyway? When the apocalypse does come are we going to be happier about it if we are stuffing our faces with fistfuls of 9-Grain?
When I was a kid growing up in New York, we had to walk five miles in the snow, uphill, both ways, just to get to and from school. At least that’s what I was telling my kids on their eighth weather-related school cancellation of the year. I think Margo might have yawned and noted that the battery on the iPad was getting low.
When I was a kid and snow had fallen overnight, we would huddle around the A.M. radio in the breakfast nook with great anticipation to listen to a frantic reporter, who sounded like he was broadcasting from the 1930s, read the area school closings: Archbishop Stepinac—Closed, Our Lady of Good Counsel—Closed, Solomon Schecter School—Closed, ya hear, CLOSED! Our Lady of Sorrows School (wait for it, wait for it…) one hour delay…” Doh! Now, Elliott can tell by the way our phone rings that the robocall has come through yet again in his favor. A sweet sounding computer informs us that we should “stay safe and warm” while spending yet another school/work day climbing the walls of our own home.
When I was a kid, we wore plastic bread bags over our socks to better waterproof our flimsy rubber boots. Every article of clothing had an undeniably scratchy essence to it. Mittens were woolly and pants were puffy, but we’d play in the snow for hours until the call of Campbell’s soup overtook us. Margo’s ensemble to combat the Atlanta winter weather of 2014 was a summer dress over tights, a zip-up sweatshirt and a vest. She wore non-waterproof boots, sans socks of course. I was actually impressed by how long she would last outside given she was soaked within minutes. But, honestly she was thinking, “charge up the iPad already!”
When I was a kid, my father would tackle a snowstorm by waking a couple of my older brothers at some preposterously early hour to help shovel and salt the driveway so he could back his car out and get to work. I prepared for the oncoming sleet, snow and potential power outages in February by going into ACE Hardware and essentially asking them what they had left. They had one shovel. I bought it. They had no more salt but they did have seven bags of sand. I bought four of them and used none. They had a paltry assortment of flashlights. I bought the last big one, a small one and a headlamp for good measure. The power never went out. I waited in line at Valero to gas up my car, which didn’t leave the garage until the storm had completely cleared out. I got some wine and firewood. Those items actually did come in handy.
When I was a kid, our severe winter precipitation was typically followed up by severe winter cold. The shoveled and plowed snow would become dirty ice banks. These flanked the slippery paths that allowed us tip-toe through the drudgery of everyday life until spring mercifully arrived. Here our February blast was swiftly trailed by sunny days in the 60s and pollen count reports on WABE. Winter has come and gone and Margo never even put on a pair of socks.