Here in the deep south, we have our moments of winter weather. Heck, it may go three or four days without getting above freezing. But our encounters with the worst of winter are usually brief and we like it that way, to tell you the truth. Living in Alabama guarantees significant weather fluctuations. We may have 50 degree differences in temperatures in less than 24 hours. We joke about being able to get frost bite and a sunburn in the same day.
So, whenever the word snow is mentioned, we revel in the novelty of it. Half of us make a trip to the store for milk and bread (after all that’s a tradition of sorts). Imagine our surprise when snow was forecasted SOUTH of Birmingham, even including our beaches. Some were a bit disappointed to be missing the chance at the rare snow day. Children went to school and parents went on to work and it was business as usual, or so we thought.
I’m going to be honest, I was suspicious. The forecast just seemed odd and I felt unsettled. I scolded myself for expecting the worst and reminded myself that they were the weather experts, not me. Then, boom baby, as my youngest son enjoys saying, it was snowing. I called Henry and he said it was just a fluke, a flurry and no worries. Before I could convince myself of that, Henry called again, they were sending them home. Roads were icing up and temperatures were dropping rapidly. His normal thirty minute trip lasted thirteen hours and he walked in the door at midnight.
It was like a terrible apocalyptic scenario where things go wrong so in such rapid succession that it’s unbelievable. People trying to get to their children, children stranded at schools overnight (where they were well cared for), pregnant women giving birth in cars on the side of the road, ambulances wrecking in an effort to attend emergencies. I kept saying to myself, “Is this real?”. It didn’t seem real.
I did what I could. I prayed and prayed and prayed. I encouraged those I love. I cooked ALL things (we certainly weren’t going to starve). I collected containers of water, just in case. I found our stash of emergency candles. I milled fresh flour and the girls and I made dozens of whole grain muffins. We made snow cream. This thoroughly impressed all seven kiddos, no matter their age. We tended to goats and chickens. We waited for Henry although it didn’t look like he would make it home that night. .
I’ll be doggone if in the midst of this crisis the blame game started. Weathermen were blamed. The governor was blamed. The Department of Transportation was blamed. Finally, it must be the obviously senseless people stranded who were at fault and they were blamed. In the middle of a crisis there is nothing to be gained by playing the blame game.
Oh, and how about the comparison card? That’s always lovely. My hackles were raised more than once as I read comments and opinions of how everything was done wrong by everyone and this would have never happened to them. Well, alrighty then. You have a right to your opinions, however wrong they may be. I thought about retorting here on my blog that a few folks would read. But, decided I would not waste my time defending myself, my family and my neighbors. A long while back I taught a Strategies BibleStudy on not answering accusations. I decided to practice what I preached. 🙂
What I’d rather write about is the things I’ve learned about a Winter Storm with a Southern Accent. Southern hospitality is not deterred by snow and ice. I’ve lost count of the reports of acts of kindness from strangers, neighbors and even businesses. When we are in a mess, we are in it together. Quickly shelters began to open, warming stations, churches, businesses, even homes of individuals. Those children at the schools were seen to as one teacher said, as their own. Some grocery stores were giving away water and food to stranded travelers. Chic-Fil-A actually passed out free sandwiches to people still in their cars. In neighborhoods, people left the safety of their own homes to reach out to others by offering rides on ATV’s so those walking in the snow could get home.
I saw courage and kindness in full bloom despite the frigid cold. We may still be in the midst of Winter but, the warmth of Spring has sprung in this southern girl’s heart. We may not appear to be well equipped to handle an unexpected Winter Storm,but we know to extend a helping hand and we know better than to kick someone when they are down.
Anyone who has ever heard my voice knows it has a distinctive southern accent. A mixture of being born in Louisiana and raised in Texas and Mississippi before Henry imported me decades ago to Alabama after we married. It’s just how I talk and anyone who tries to imitate my accent sounds silly. It’s hard to replicate a unique accent. I think that’s how I feel about the way we have handled this crisis. We responded as a culmination of who we are and the worst of circumstances drew out the best in us. That’s a Winter Storm with a Southern Accent.