Our Snowy South

A Two-Day Diary

Tuesday, January 28

8:30 a.m.–Cairo, GA–heavy cloud cover, not much mention of our receiving precipitation here near the Florida line. They think maybe Albany, sixty miles north may get a touch of snow, and we might get a little sleet. For a 71-year-old who still has a kid’s excitement over snow I have to be content with a day that looks like snow. I grew up in Clarkesville in north Georgia where we did usually have two or three snows each winter, a few really nice big ones, thick enough to slide downhill on an opened box, make snow ice cream, and wage snowball wars. The last snow we had here in Cairo was about three years ago, beautiful falling through our tall pines, dusting every holly leaf and making the cats look very mystified. Our grandson, fifteen then, got his first real look at the cold stuff and he loved it!

10:00 a.m.–I received a voicemail from my son in Alabama where he’s on his day’s trek serving veterinarians. “Hey, Mom, just checking in with you on the weather. It’s snowing where I am, but they don’t think it’s going to be much more than a dusting. I hear you’re going to get lots more. I know you’d love that so I’m hoping for it.” I said, “Oh-h-h-h….”

2:15 p.m.–I talked to Will this time. He said he’s in a mess of traffic trying to get back into Birmingham and make it to Mattie’s day care. “The way it’s looking I won’t be able to make it home. I’ll be staying with Mattie at the church. Several other families will be staying also. There are thousands of people out here on the interstate just sitting in their cars like me.”

3:00–I called Christi to see how she’s doing, got no answer.

4:30–Christi called back. She’s been on Highway 280 since just after 10:00 this morning trying to make the usual 30-minute trip to their house. She realized it wasn’t going to be just the dusting as predicted and did stop and gas up. “If I can get close enough, I’ll just walk the rest of the way.” “Oh, my,” I said, “I hope you’re warmly dressed. Do you have on good shoes?” In her quiet reassuring voice she said, “I bought some fuzzy socks at the gas station and some better gloves and I have the warm cozy wrap you made me for Christmas. And, yes, I wore boots today instead of heels.” “What about the boys?” I ask. “Our next-door neighbor, Mr. Sorrells has gone to the school to walk them home. They’ll stay with him until I get there.”

5:30–I called Will. He’s on the last steep hill approaching Highlands United Methodist’s street. But he’s one of thousands and they’re at a standstill. “I would walk on up there. It’s only about a mile. But I can’t park. I’ve talked to Christi. She’s still struggling to get to a decent turn-off from 280 where she can get close to home.”

My prayers increase. I walk from window to window watching dark come and knowing that it gets dark much earlier where my kids are out on those treacherous snowy roads. I add tomatoes and cabbage to a nice beef stir-fry, then set some rice to simmering. I wish strongly that I could feed my poor cold kids when they arrive at home, and then I pray again: Lord, please bring them home!

7:00–Will calls to say he’s made it to the church. As Charles, Charles D and I eat stir-fry and rice we talk about the weather there and here. Still no sign of snow for us. We may get rain mixed with sleet about midnight. We say a prayer of thanksgiving that Will at least is safe and sound, he and Mattie.

8:30–Christi’s now abandoned her car on the side of the road, has found a ride in a pickup truck closer to home, still not there. Has arrived at a friend’s house where she may spend the night. I picture the winding dark streets, so very, very steep, on the way from 280 to her house,  and I shudder.

We go to bed, praying for our Alabama kids especially much, hoping they’re all safe and sound, though separated in three different locations. And, yes, we do pray for the thousands of people displaced on this snowy night in the south.

 Wednesday,January 29–

5:00 a.m.–I waken to the sound of a soft rattle against window panes. Out the bathroom window I see the barn roof is white in the street lamp.

6:30–It’s light enough to see the white stuff clinging to holly leaves, icicles hanging from each leaf, white ice on deck and deck chairs, the bird bath frozen solid. Charles D is very disappointed there was no snow but thrilled that, because of the ice, the schools are closed today. We discuss the white stuff. I tell him it’s what we always called hominy snow in north Georgia. Here, it’s simply considered ice even if it is white and comes down in granules. Either way, it’s beautiful!

And treacherous.

9:00 a.m. I learn that Christi didn’t stay in that friend’s house. Her mother’s heart drove her to get out and walk toward home. She arrived within a mile when she called Mr. Sorrells. He loaded William, 10, and Thomas, 6, into his four-wheel jeep and went to rescue their mother from the “side of the mountain.”

2:00, p.m.–I call and get William who very happily launches into his own description of their last 24 hours. He and Thomas had a really fun walk through the snow getting home Tuesday, only slid on their bottoms a few times. They had a little bit of a scary time going with Mr. Sorrells to rescue their mom. “The jeep started sliding and Mr. Sorrels had to stop and back up and try again. When we slid to the edge of the road I was a little scared. But then we found Mama and brought her home. And, Nana, this is the best part. When we got near our house, guess what we saw?” (Big pause. I couldn’t guess.) “We saw a buck standing in the road, a big, big buck with huge antlers. I’ve never seen one like that,” he said in awe.

I asked William about his dad and Mattie. “Well, they’re probably going to have to stay another night at the church,” he said solemnly. “The roads are pretty bad. Oh, and Nana, did you know this part? My mom lost her phone in the snow. We went back to where she thought she dropped it this morning but we couldn’t find it. Then Pop called from Gadsden and said someone had called him and said they found my mom’s phone and they’d put it in their mailbox for her to pick up. We just got back from hunting for that mailbox. But we did find it and it was a miracle! Her phone really was in that mailbox!” I could tell he was winded from telling me this long tale. But he had one more note. “Nana, we’re all tired so we’re going to rest. About thirty minutes maybe. Then I’m going out to play in the snow!”

A boy after my own heart!

5:30–Will called. He and Mattie made it home. He says the day care cook was stranded with them at the church so they ate very well. Sleeping wasn’t so good on the floor! But they were thankful for the warm, safe place. So very thankful now to be all home, all together again!



1 Comment

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One response to “Our Snowy South

  1. Mary Faye

    Ours had a similar situation north of Atlanta. Gabe left GSU in downtown Atlanta at 11:00 a.m. And got home at 10:00p.m. (About 35 miles). The kids were at daycare and the last to leave – Laura’s 18 mile trip took her 6 hrs.
    Funny thing, we were communicating about their situations around the same time you describe (super). Through my prayers for safe keeping, I felt so guilty we were sitting down to a nice meal in our warm house. Mothers have similar hearts don’t we.

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