We had a snow storm in Chattanooga on Wednesday. It started innocently enough–the occasional snow shower not resulting in any notable accumulation throughout the day. The area had already closed schools the day before in preparation for the big storm. Kids began showing up in Renaissance Park, attempting to sled on the thin dusting of snow on the grass hills by the time I walked Tisen in the afternoon.
From my office window, I watched traffic build up as cars climbed slowly up 27N over Stringer’s Ridge. By late afternoon, the traffic thinned and the snow began to slowly accumulate. We’ve seen plenty of snow having lived up North for many decades–it didn’t occur to us to prepare for the “storm.”
That evening, we realized we had no groceries. This seemed like a small inconvenience since the grocery store is just a short walk away. Alas, little did we know, the grocery store closed at 5PM and sent its employees home. We drove to the next grocery store, several miles away. There was less than an inch of snow on the ground and no traffic–we had no problems driving to the store. But we were disheartened to notice that every place of business we passed sat darkly behind an empty parking lot. When we arrived at Bi-Lo, one of the largest grocery chains in the area, it too was shutdown.
I flashed back to the late 70’s, when we had several feet of snow on the ground in Columbus, Ohio. I believe it was after the Blizzard of ’78. We were out of food in the house. My mother got out one of our molded-plastic sleds to haul groceries in and we made our way through deep snow to the store a half mile away.
As a young child, it was exciting to be out “foraging” for food when it was, for the first and possibly only time in my life, entirely possible we might go hungry for more than a few hours. I pretended we were pioneers crossing a tundra as I took slow steps, sinking into the snow up to my knees.
When we got to the store, it was open–but many of the shelves were bare. The supply trucks hadn’t made it through in days. I remember the sinking feeling in my stomach when I realized we might have to eat a kind of cereal we didn’t like. Oh the horror!
Having grown up in a place where grocery stores remained open even when supply trucks weren’t arriving to restock, it didn’t occur to me that grocery stores in Chattanooga would close early because a few inches of snow had been predicted. But, people live on hills and there is very little equipment to keep the roads clear, so I suppose it’s for the best. Next time, we’ll be among the crowds who make a run on the store when bad weather is predicted.