By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen
By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen
Carole Townsend

I do love Georgia in winter
By Carole Townsend

Ah, Georgia in winter. Is there anyplace more exciting than right here in the peach state during the season kicked off by the winter solstice? I don’t think so.

Where else can you play tennis in shorts and a tee shirt one day, and the next day be racing down an icy slope on a garbage can lid? No other place – well, except for Alabama, maybe.

All of our children are grown and out of school now, but oh do I remember the days of watching weather forecasts like we did the O.J. Simpson trial, glued to the TV and glancing out the windows with excited anticipation. I have lived in Georgia for most of my life, and I know from experience that, say, 95 percent of those icy predictions fall flat, producing a disappointing cold rain instead of a frosty winter wonderland. But my goodness, when that other 5 percent happens, what a treat for us humidity-breathers down here in the south.

I remember when our children were little, and I’d tuck them into bed the night before a “Georgia blizzard” was to hit (a Georgia blizzard is an inch or two of ice with an inch or less of snow piled on top). They’d be as excited on those nights as they were on Christmas Eve, the anticipation keeping them up well past their school night bedtime. And as soon as they’d open their eyes the next morning, they’d fly to their bedroom windows and pull back the shades, eyes wide. If the yard and street were covered in white, they’d squeal with delight and run down the hall to announce, at the tops of their lungs, that there’d be no school that day. Who couldn’t smile at that? Children have no idea what a mess “snow days” make for working parents, but they shouldn’t. There’s plenty of time for that later. 

Today, of course, we all just watch the weather and if the snow does come, we check with our respective employers to see whether we’re expected to make the treacherous trek to the office. Doesn’t seem as exciting, does it? Still, though, nothing really compares to getting that first glimpse of a freshly-fallen snow in Georgia, does it? In a state that’s known for its unbearably hot and humid summers, and its don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-‘em springs and falls, snow and even ice are welcome surprises.

I was talking about this most recent winter weather event with my husband this week, and we reminisced about our own ice and snow adventures when we were kids. He hails from Ohio, but his family moved here when he was only nine years old, so his memories of Yankee winters are dim at best. We did discuss something that, we’re convinced, is a winter memory owned only by us Georgians. As a mother, it horrifies me, and it gives me something else to worry about as a grandmother. Perhaps you will remember it, as well.

When it snowed at our house down in Doraville, some forty (ahem) years ago, “snow” was mostly ice. Still, all the neighborhood kids would gather at our house or the house across the street, and we’d engage in the obligatory snowball fight. We’d play outside until our hands were numb and beet red, going inside only when Mom called us in for hot chocolate. Sounds Norman-Rockwellish, doesn’t it? Except for the fact that, since our snowstorms were actually ice with a few snowflakes on top, we had been packing ice and those precious flakes around rocks, to give the snowballs more substance. Ice. And rocks. And all the while we were pinging these death missiles at our friends, we’d hear branches and limbs cracking all around us, the weight of the ice too much for their flimsy arms to bear.

If I had even imagined my own children would have played so dangerously and irresponsibly, and in such dangerous conditions, I would never have let them go outside in the snow. Of course, they did the same thing we did; they’re Georgians, and we Georgians make do when it comes to playing in the snow.

Now I know that New Yorkers and Bostonians and all those other snow experts chuckle at the way we act when it snows and ices down here, and that’s O.K. We do it once, maybe twice, a season. They, on the other hand, deal with it once. In, I don’t know, November. And when it melts in May, they are done.

Now that’s a reason to chuckle.

Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. She writes about family, from both a humorous and poignant perspective. Her newest book, MAGNOLIAS, SWEET TEA AND EXHAUST (July 2014, Skyhorse Publishing) takes a look at NASCAR from a Southern suburban mom’s perspective. She is currently writing her fourth book. Carole has appeared on local and national news and talk shows, including CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates. When not writing, she travels throughout the region, speaking to various civic and literary groups, and advocating for the health and well-being of the family, particularly women and children. For more information, visit www.caroletownsend.com.