First, they tell you it is coming. The news shows, the weather app on my phone, and people where ever you go talk about a coming storm. Sometimes I think people do not have enough to do with their time. Focusing on a coming storm, especially a blizzard, seems to energize them. People love an impending disaster, especially if it is a little to the north of them. But there is the “possibility” that it might arrive right here. That is titillating and mysterious. Will it hit? Where will it hit? Will there be drama? Will there be shortages? Better run to the market and buy toilet paper.

The urge to buy toilet paper is universal, at least in western countries. What is it about toilet paper? For millennia past, there was no such thing, and people survived. Why is it that they panic these days at the thought of running out? I guess they no longer have Sears Catalogues.

When I was a young bride married only a few months, we ran out of toilet paper in our little house on Williamsburg Road in Charlottesville, VA. My husband called to me. “Bonnie, can you bring me some more toilet paper? The role is empty.” And I replied after looking in the closet where I kept it, that we had run out.

“That is unacceptable!” he said, “Using up all the toilet paper is something that is NEVER meant to happen,” I mentioned that we still had lots of Kleenex. There was a fresh supply in a box in the bathroom. He said that was “not the point.” The point was that running out of TP was not supposed ever to happen. NO excuses. Never, again. I was mortified. And he made his point. I am careful to always have a stash in a cupboard. Besides, there is an extra stash somewhere beyond what is evident in the bathrooms and under the sinks. So when a storm is brewing, I am not particularly worried about running out of that.

What I do rush out to buy is fresh fruit, especially berries and melon. And CREAM for my coffee. We just cannot run out of cream. That would be awful. ( Or coffee for that matter) But I generally have a stash of extra coffee in the freezer. You will laugh, but mimicking what my mother’s cook always did, I keep a big, round, red plastic container of Maxwell House coffee in the far back part of my freezer for emergencies. Though, of course, my regular coffee is fancier than that.

So, we all anticipate the catastrophe of the coming snowstorm, and then many times, nothing happens. It rains, or the storm veers west, or the storm is delayed and spends all the precipitation somewhere else—what a letdown. No snow.

These days, with so many people working from home and so many schools already doing virtual classes, it does not matter. Snowfall can be heavy or light. Roads can be plowed or not. As long as the Internet connection is strong, life goes on.

One time, 60 years ago, when they were coming home from a football game late in the season, a couple of young girls got caught in a developing snowstorm. They left the school on the outskirts of Alexandria and proceeded to drive back to Washington DC. The roads were already thick with snow. Drifts were forming because of the high winds. The swirling snow blocked out the view. They could only see but a few yards in front of them due to the strong gale. These were the days before cell phones. Of course, there were phone booths everywhere, but not on the highway. The girls found themselves creeping along at a snail’s pace. What would normally have been a 20 or 25-minute trip had already extended to more than an hour. They were nowhere near a phone or anywhere they could stop. The snow was coming down steadily. The traffic in those days included a lot of cars without “snow tires.” These heavy old cars, which fishtailed and struggled up even slight inclines, made it hard on the other drivers who got behind them. The girls spent nearly an hour on the GW Parkway in bumper to bumper traffic. At least they had each other. But the stress of knowing their parents were waiting for them and would worry made them very anxious. Of course, in those days, people were more patient. The parents KNEW the girls could not call from the road. They would have to exit off the highway and find a way to park and go in some store and find a phone booth. They could not risk the time spent doing that. Their trip took two and a half hours. But they made it safely, and their parents were relieved but understanding. That sort of lack of communication never happens now. Thank goodness for cell phones!

Still, the cell phone world is full of angst about snowstorms. They have names now. First, they named Hurricanes and then every cyclone, Tsunami and thunderstorms and now Snowstorms. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration doesn’t give storms names (like they do for hurricanes), but the Weather Channel does. It is a terrible idea. It just makes it more dramatic and, for some people, more frightening.

Snowstorms still make me happy and excited. Since I don’t work outside or need to drive to work in bad weather, it is just fun to watch the snow swirl around and gradually cover everything in tufted white puffs. It is such fun to watch once-green trees become coated with the white frosting of snow. The magic continues with a dark macadam road suddenly turned into a magical white carpet worthy of a bride. And the quiet. It is miraculous. The light is pink from reflected street lights against the heavy clouds blanketing the sky in a city. In the country, it is dark and perhaps disorienting when snow is flying. Which direction are we heading? Impossible to tell without a landmark. But it is silent. And that is peaceful and calming.

I love the snow, don’t you?

Copyright©. 2021 Bonnie B. Matheson

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