When I was a kid (or at least more of a kid than I am now), I kept a weather eye out in winter —looking for signs of pending snowstorms. Snow was pretty rare in upstate South Carolina, maybe one or two events a year, sometimes more, but often we would go all winter with no snow at all.
Snow was exciting. It brought a bit of freshness to the drab winter landscape, provided a bit of contrast with the brown broom sedge that infested most of the fields and pastures around our house.
It also left sign. We tried on numerous occasions to follow rabbit tracks back to the beds they burrowed out in the snow and where they holed up until scared away or until darkness gave them cover to forage for food. I don’t recall ever successfully navigating the criss-crossed wanderings of a rabbit. My dad could do it, but we generally just turned the beagles loose and let them chase the prey back in range of our .410 shotguns. Fried rabbit made a pretty good dinner on a cold winter evening.
But the best thing about snow was snow days. It didn’t take much accumulation for Anderson County officials to close schools for a day or two. We were ill-equipped for dealing with slippery precipitation, and there were still more than a few dirt roads the school buses had to traverse, so calling off classes seemed a better bet than pulling buses out of ditches.
School was never my favorite way to spend time. I was an OK student, but I wasn’t the smartest kid in my class. I wasn’t even the smartest kid in my house. That honor belonged — still does —to my sister. All things considered, I preferred staying home and chasing rabbits to going to school and trying to figure how algebraic equations would benefit me in life (I still haven’t come to grips with that). So, snow days were most welcome.
As I’ve grown older, I have developed a diminished regard for snow — or cold weather of any sort. Old bones, I suppose, react differently to cold than young ones. It takes very little in the way of chill to provide all the winter I need. I’m generally ready for spring by Dec. 31.
So, I was less than joyful earlier this week when I awoke on “going home day” to heavy snow, with more predicted, and I faced the prospect of being stranded in Norman, Okla. The hotel room was comfortable enough, the food was adequate, and folks attending the same meeting I was covering would be good conversation companions were I to be snowed in for a day or two.
Fortunately, the snow abated and I was able to head home that afternoon, with clear roads all the way to Denton.
But it was amusing during meeting breaks to watch farmers gathered at the windows, looking at the fat flakes falling softly to earth. There were grins galore at the prospect of moisture beginning to accumulate in the soil. Many of them had cell phones to their ears, checking with folks back on the farm to see how much snow, ice or other precipitation they were getting.
“Moisture is moisture,” several said. And whether snow, rain or sleet, it was a welcome change from months of drought. Predictions called for several inches of accumulation to the north of Norman, more in northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas. Expectations of another front following close behind only whetted the farmers’ enthusiasm for much-needed moisture.
An extra day in the hotel, I thought, even as I reached the end of my supply of clean underwear, would be a small sacrifice if the snowfall heralded the end of a two-year drought.
You just gotta love a snow day…