Let It Snow…..please.

snow scene

In the South, predictions of snow are avoided.  Perhaps it’s because until about 20 years ago there was only one snow plow in the city of Atlanta.

We usually have ice.  First it rains, then freezes, usually as it rains, but it doesn’t turn to snow. Then all the power lines come down.  Or they sway with a frozen heaviness that looks  like white lead ribbons have woven webs above the landscape.  The bushes are laden with ice and fall over, or part down the middle.

I remember a particular ice storm in the early 70’s.  It lasted for two weeks, or the effects of it did.  I had a SAAB back then (actually had three of them…probably to keep one running) and I believe it had something like four wheel drive.  Probably a Swedish version,, but it was like a mountain goat.  I heard very recently that SAAB closed up shop forever.  Sad.

Well, that car and I drove around all day and just watched the havoc ice made on the streets.  You could get out of your car and push it sideways with your hands.  Not that you needed to, but it was rather amazing you could could do it.  Perhaps it just was with SAABS.  They were rather light cars back then.

I think the expectation of snow is better than the actual snow fall.  But we have it so little perhaps we get easily excited down here.  I do know that weatherfolk carefully avoid the word ‘snow’ and call it ‘possible frozen precipitation’.  What the hell is that susposed to mean?  Sounds like snow to me.

Last March 1st…..very late in the year, we got our first snowfall of the year.  It was gorgeous.  All day it snowed, from early morning to nightfall.  Six inches of beautiful, silent snow.  Looking out from an upstairs window, the whole street looked like a Japanese village, which is a pretty good trick 3 miles from downtown Atlanta.

It was the serenity and silence, no traffic to defile the purity of such a gift.  And down here, when we can count years before we have a snowfall….it is a gift.

I was raised in the North, and snowfalls were every year.   I remember winter being one long snowfall.  Grayed days turned to blurry afternoons with a blizzard that piled up drifts, once plowed on our country roads, to 10 feet or higher.

My parents restored and raised us in a pre-Revolutionary house.  There were fireplaces in all the major rooms and stout wooden shutters on all windows.  The power went out for days at a time and my poor mother had to cook meals in a fireplace.  My father hung a griddle in the original kitchen fireplace, on that piece of iron that swung out from the bricks.  When we were young, we could swing in the fireplace from that iron.

When the power went out the county linemen would come and work somewhere down the road on the lines.  They always seemed to turn up at our house because my mother always gave them hot chocolate.  I remember the large patterned brown mugs with large handles.  I few years ago I found one in a shop and brought it home.  But that was only one and it disappeared somewhere.

When a good snow was forecast, we knew  school wouldn’t happen.  The Johnsons, husband and wife school bus drivers (and suppliers of endless kittens from their barncats)   wouldn’t get through.  Our mother would insist we get dressed and go to the end of the driveway and wait for the bus.  One time we just put our coats over our pjs and went out there.  The Johnsons made it through that morning.

I remember the snows then almost as mystical experiences.  Snow angels (which I recreated in Montreal last January….hadn’t seen snow like that in many years…) , eating snow, snowball fights, sledding, skiing, snow men, just rolling around in the stuff.  Watching the snow fall through the outside light from the kitchen and watching it transform my childhood world.

There was mystery and expectation and wonder.

Perhaps we don’t lose those things of memory.  Perhaps they recreate themselves in our expectation and excitement when we, down here in the South, hear of the possibilities of snow.

So I’ll await the chances of snow on Thursday.  At dusk, when it’s supposed to begin, I’ll watch for it falling under the soft gleam of the street lamp.

If we get any Thursday, it will be perfect.  A book of Robert Frost poetry, a mug of chocolate and some wet dogs on the sheepskin before the woodstove, and the enforced peace and stillness of Winter.


Lady Nyo


The morning brought a first snow,

And with it wind  over the mountain.

I watched snow turn to ice,

Invisible sleet hit the panes a’ hissin’.

There was soon a crystal coat on tender branches—

Invisible hands pulling to earth,

Anchoring them fast.

I depend upon the silence

Creating a space to remember,

Solitude, too, now to be shared

Only with ghosts,

Or perhaps a cat or two.

Inside the crackling of wood,

Well seasoned of last year’s split,

The sweet, sharp scent of pine and oak,

The groan of a log as it shifts its failing weight—

I remember your boot kicking it back off the hearth,

Sparks flaring upward,

Stars enfolded by a blazing sun.

Outside the pelting sting on windows,

The howl of winter racing round eaves

Looking for attic-access between clapboards,

The hambone skeleton dance to

Shake their palsied bones warm.

Soon  fading light at twilight

Suspends the day

In a cocoon of white, unfocused mystery.

The night brings a muffled benediction

Over the land,

And memory is put aside for the morrow.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2009  from “White Cranes of Heaven”, 2010,  published by Lulu

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4 Responses to “Let It Snow…..please.”

  1. Margie Says:

    Oh Jane, you romantic! When I hear the weatherman talk of snow, I stick my fingers in my ears and begin to sing, la-la-la-la-la! I guess I haven’t lived in the South long enough to miss it! LOL!

    Once again, a lovely poem, very visual, and if my snow day could be all warm afghans, fires, and hot chocolate I wouldn’t mind so much!


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Hiya, Margie!

    Yeap, I talk a good line about snow, but my feet are cold right now….LOL!

    And yes, you will get to miss it.

    My snow day probably will be wet dogs and whining cats….and frozen hamburger.

    Thank you, Margie, for reading and your lovely comments!

    Hugs, coz.


  3. Berowne Says:

    > I heard very recently that SAAB closed up shop forever

    Not quite, not yet, but it’s very very close. Per today’s news:

    “G.M. has said that it has started to wind down Saab as a brand, though it is still considering some offers, with a Jan. 7 deadline, according to Reuters. Negotiations with the tiny Dutch company Spyker Cars broke down, but have since been restarted.”


  4. ladynyo Says:

    I hope SAAB makes it. A very interesting design for the mechanics…

    I remember my first one, my first brand new car and had this weird lever you had to pull out down around your feet for something….some gear??

    But they were fun to drive.


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