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Opinion

No-show snow


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Jan. 18, 2022 - 5:48 PM

No-show snow

Clay Neely is co-publisher and managing editor of The Newnan Times-Herald. He can be reached at clay@newnan.com

Southern snow doesn’t stick around very long, if it does stick at all.

And if you were paying attention last Sunday, you felt the collective disappointment of thousands of children across Coweta County.

As Newnan's wintery-mix fell that afternoon, we chuckled as our 8-year-old daughter attempted to frolic in those heavy snowflakes that disappeared upon hitting the earth.

Bless her heart.

Her frustration was palpable. This was her window for snow, and it failed to launch.

I feel her pain. Ever since I was a kid, I always wanted to live where the snow was.

I loved going skiing in North Carolina, visiting friends up North and studying the L.L. Bean catalog filled with apparel I’d never need in Fayette County, Georgia.

And I still get excited when people bring up the snowstorm of 1993.

But most of all, I loved devouring Jack London stories. There’s nothing like reading “To Build A Fire” before falling asleep in a safe, warm bed.

However, my son spent his first five years in Western Massachusetts, so he still remembers what real snow looks like. By the time his sister saw her first snow back in 2017, he was already a seasoned veteran in the ways of fresh powder.

In the South, spring’s imminent arrival is heralded by Daylilies in February. Up in Massachusetts, it’s the emergence of shopping carts from those big piles of dingy snow in parking lots.

Romantic, right?

As I’ve mentioned ad nauseum, I’m blessed to have married a woman who voluntarily lived with me in New England for nearly a decade. We now share a common language of Southern transplants who found themselves in a whole new world.

For us, winter is the smell of heating oil, freshly topped off, making our house smell like someone was fueling a jet in our basement.

It's the sound of snowplows before dawn, creating piles of snow mixed with our driveway gravel that will need to be redistributed in the spring.

It’s securing a warm spot in our 150-year-old farmhouse, employing army blankets across our thresholds to keep our living room toasty.

It’s walking gingerly outside, never knowing where a hidden patch of ice was lurking, just waiting to hurl you to the ground.

It’s the realization that we should have bought a generator after an early season snowstorm crushed power lines throughout the Pioneer Valley, forcing us off the grid for three days with a fidgety 2-year-old.

It’s sitting in an idling minivan with my son as firefighters extinguish the chimney fire I started while Beth was back in Newnan, wondering what she was doing still living up North.

And it's shoveling snow for a long, long time.

But it’s also long walks and solitude. So upon receiving our smattering of snow Sunday, I grabbed my dog's leash and set out for a walk around the neighborhood.

Because if I’m walking in the cold with my dog, I’m exactly where I want to be. That’s my happy place.

Seeing the snow clinging to his fur provided a quick flashback to those snowy hikes on Unquomonk Hill where the forest almost felt soundproofed, aside from the soft crunch of my boots in fresh snow.

There aren’t many places these days where you can step into nature and hear complete silence.

My mom texted me later that day to ask if I still missed living in New England. To her astonishment, I replied: “Kinda.”

Nowadays, my Jack London bedtime routine has been replaced with “Life Below Zero,” a documentary television series about living near the Arctic Circle in Alaska.

It archives the desired effect, and I get to share it with Beth.

But those snowy seasons in the Western Massachusetts hilltowns are looked back upon with great fondness, especially when we can wake up in Newnan where it’s anyone's guess what the weather will be like that day.

But for now, my daughter is growing impatient. And I don’t think a Jack London book is going to fix it.

Clay Neely is co-publisher and managing editor of The Newnan Times-Herald. He can be reached at clay@newnan.com