Snow Day

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.

A Month Before Christmas

Here we are, a month before Christmas, and I am realizing we are going to be home in Chattanooga for Christmas this year.  Having just returned from visiting family for Thanksgiving, I find myself feeling a bit nostalgic for the old days when family from both sides was within a 3 hour drive.

Combine that with the sudden nip in the air and I find myself wistfully wishing I had a few things to look forward to.

For one, gifts piled under a Christmas tree.  There was a time when I would put up a tree and wrap all the gifts early just because I liked the way they looked. I was known for taking ridiculous care in wrapping packages, always folding every crease, never leaving a cut edge exposed, and often hand making bows from interesting ribbons.

These days, I think more about using up leftover wrapping paper, recycling old paper or gift bags, or having things gift wrapped at the store.

As my nephews have gotten older, the things they want have gotten smaller and more expensive resulting in paltry stack that barely occupies the corner of a table, let alone fills the living room.  It’s a good thing they have also outgrown playing with boxes.

I gave up on having Christmas decorations, including a tree, many years ago.  I found not decorating for Christmas a relief.  The amount of work in exchange for a very small amount of time to enjoy the decorations (since we always went out of town) just didn’t seem worth the trade off.  Especially not in January when we kept procrastinating taking down the outdoor lights in the hope of warmer weather.

Now, I watch the cars driving in and out of the tree lot across the street and find myself tempted to get a tree.  But where would that lead?  Next there would be ornaments, garlands, lights, and icicles.  And it doesn’t stop there.  It’s like a gateway drug to hard-core decorating.  Before you know it, you’re putting snowflakes in the windows, lights on the windowsills, and looking for inflatable, lighted Christmas scenes for the balcony.

Instead of buying a tree, I peruse my old photos in search of Christmases past.  I am reminded of cookies, snow, and our wonderful dogs, past and present.

This will be our first Christmas at home in 21 years.  It will be only our second Christmas without my nephews in those 21 years.  The first time, we were camping in the Everglades.  This year, we will be home with no tree, no lights, no gifts, no family.

Sounds like it’s time to think of a new tradition for Christmas.  Maybe I’ll look into renting a snow making machine–a white Christmas in Chattanooga would truly be a Christmas miracle.

Wind and Snow

On January first, we turned on the heat.  It doesn’t actually kick on until today, the 2nd, since it was so warm yesterday our apartment was 72 degrees and the thermostat was set on 68.  However, the temperature starts to drop into the range of temperature even us Ohioans call “bitterly cold” by this morning.  In fact, when I check the weather in Columbus, it’s the same temperature there as it is in Chattanooga–a whooping 21 degrees.

We drive out to Lookout Mountain hoping I will have my first flight off the big hill.  We aren’t optimistic when we check the weather and see 15 mph winds predicted.  When we step outside, I figure our only hope is that the valley where the training hills are located is somehow sheltered from this wind.

But, it is not to be.  We set up my glider as the instructors watch the wind socks.  An instructor takes a test flight off the big hill and does so many dips and dives as the wind tosses him around that we all know I won’t be flying today.  Instead, I get a thorough lesson in glider preflight checks, so I at least it’s not a waste of time.

Pat helps me disassemble the glider and then we head up to the office to work on our written tests.

After spending the day working on our tests, I watch the sunset through the back door of the hang gliding office.  The door opens onto a deck that hangs over the valley.  The wind is blowing so hard the air coming through the crack around the door blows the hair back off my face.  I think about opening the door to take a picture of the sunset, but it is so cold in the office already, I can’t bring myself to open the door.  I shoot through the door with my iPhone.

When at last we leave for the day, snow is blowing through the beams of the headlights.  After a half mile or so, the snow disappears as we move into lower elevations.  We are relieved, having been forewarned that everything shuts down if there is snow on the ground–the area doesn’t have equipment to clear the roads.

We make our way home and are grateful we’ve turned the heat on already.  As we settle in for the evening, Pat looks out the window and says, “Look, honey, it’s raining sideways!”  When I look out the window, there is snow blowing so fast through the light from a street light that it really does look like sideways rain.  But, it’s snow.  Because it is only visible in the light from the streetlight, it looks like the street light is some kind of snow machine blowing snow onto the street.  It stops as suddenly as it started.  There is no snow on the ground.  Not even the grass shows a dusting of white.  So much for our first snow.