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A Mother of a Snowball


Snow seems to be on the brain these days. If it isn’t falling from the sky where you are, it might’ve at least given you the opportunity to sleep a little longer on a Monday. After all, everything stops in the South at the mere thought of snow.

Growing up in South Carolina, I probably saw snow a handful of times in my formative years, always a wet, slushy mess. On my fourteenth birthday, it snowed several inches. I remember getting out and playing in it with my then-boyfriend. Because it was little more than barely frozen water, our regular clothes were soaked within minutes, causing us to run back inside to warm up. Investing in snow gear for the once-every-few-years white blanket that was usually gone by morning was preposterous. This IS the South.

It’s hard to imagine it, but think – THINK – about July. You know July. You were just complaining about its blistering heat and oppressive humidity a few short months ago. Especially if you live anywhere near me.

We didn’t have central air conditioning in my house growing up. The whole place was cooled by a window air conditioning unit in my brother’s bedroom. It blasted down the hallway, the air more warm than cold by the time it hit the kitchen at the opposite end of the house. To deal with the heat, I let ice cubes melt in my mouth and did as little as possible, reading being the coolest activity I could find.

One white-hot summer day, my Mom called me to come outside. She was in the storage room, and I could hear her yelling through the thin kitchen wall. Because the washer and dryer were out there, I thought she wanted me to come and help her bring the clothes inside.

After pretending I didn’t hear her for at least five minutes, I finally dragged my lazy behind off the sofa and went out there, my bare feet sizzling like fresh bacon on the overheated concrete carport. Whining and complaining with my most diva-like airs, I came into the storage room…………..and was hit squarely in the face with a frozen snowball.

My Mom scraped up some of the last snow we had and saved it in the outdoor freezer. She probably planned that ambush for months and months, and I’m certain that I was always her intended target. I never knew she had snow in there, even though I visited that freezer quite regularly. It was the same one that housed my poor dead pet cow Boo’s pieces and parts, after all.

So, if it happens to snow where you are today, scoop some up and save it. It will be a welcome treat come July.

Too Much is Just Enough: Snowballs in July

34 Comments Post a comment
  1. Lou Mello #

    As a transplanted Yankee, I always enjoy the various responses to snow forecasts in the South. We first encountered this when we lived in Savannah, they would ask everyone to stay home if you lived on one of the islands since you had to cross one of the little bridges. This was not only done if there was a 1% chance of snow, it was done every time there was a frost forecast.

    I recall that when the big snow of ’89 came to Savannah, that the kids loved it, stored snowballs in their freezers and the city just dumped sand on all the roads. The snow went away in a couple of days and the mess of sand on the roads didn’t go away for a month until the rain finally washed it away.

    The issue of driving on snow is a tricky one; you sort of get used to it with practice and there are certain things they drill into you, like turning the wheels into the direction of a skid, don’t lock your brakes, etc. The truth is that if it’s snow, it’s not so bad to drive in if you slow down and double the distance between cars. The part you can’t control is when the roads are icy, then it’s just a demolition derby and you are best not to go out at all.

    Looks like it’s dry here this morning so far, so let’s keep our fingers crossed that we don’t get any of the icy rain.

    Let’s be safe out there and watch out for Moms throwing snowballs!!

    January 10, 2011
    • It is sleeting here, and MTM is home from work. He is using the time to grate orange rinds for arancello. :)

      I absolutely cannot drive in snow. No matter how many times you tell me all those techniques, they will not stick when I start to skid. I guess, like riding a bike, it’s something one doesn’t forget once they learn.

      January 10, 2011
  2. I heard Charleston County Schools are on a two hour delay today. My first reaction was “That’s really going to mess up my day.” I’m reading the “crawl” across the TV screen now, trying to figure out if this wintry weather will affect my son’s preschool schedule. Bah humbug.

    I loved your story. It reminded me how my grandparents saved snowballs in the freezer out in the garage. There’s a photo of them, long before I was born, in bathing suits (my grandma in a bikini) posing by a snowman in their front yard.

    Yes, snow in Charleston is a big deal!

    January 10, 2011
    • I bet those boys of your go nuts over it. If we get any white stuff and not this sleet, please post some pics. :)

      I can’t believe your grandparents saved enough snow to make a whole snowman. Dang!

      January 10, 2011
      • Let me clarify– they saved a few snowballs… but during one winter snow they made a snowman (it took all the snow in the yard) and then dressed in bathing suits to pose for photos. That sounds like crazy fun. There’s also a photo from the same year, with my grandfather being pulled on skis behind a car. I’m seriously not kidding about that.

        January 10, 2011
      • I just went outside here fully clothed and ran back inside immediately. I cannot imagine putting on a bikini and going out there. (Well, I can’t imagine putting on a bikini period anymore, but I digress…….)

        January 10, 2011
      • There might have been Budweisers involved.

        January 10, 2011
      • Ha! There usually are when things like that happen. I am still laughing at the image of being pulled on skis behind the car.

        January 10, 2011
  3. Very cool. My best snow story involves my son. When he was probably about 5 it snowed here in Charleston. Not that much, but enough for him to make one precious snowball and launch it at his loving mother. Where did it land? It went straight down her cleavage. The look on her face was priceless. From awe at her cute son, to shock at him actually landing the snowball, to amazement at how cold the snow dripping down her front was. And then to non-amusement at how much the rest of us were laughing. To this day, approximately 10 years later, he reminds her of that snowball.

    Oh, and the best thing about July? It is my birthday month, of course!

    January 10, 2011
    • That IS the best thing about July!!

      And, THAT story is priceless. It will be one that your son will repeat for the rest of his life. It will make him feel close to Nancy, wherever he is. :)

      January 10, 2011
  4. I spent my childhood in new York City, so I’m used to snow. I kind of see our summers as kind of a winter since the heat is so oppressive.

    January 10, 2011
    • Yes, one of my friends from Montreal was talking about visiting, and I told her absolutely not to visit in summer. It can be really hard on people who aren’t used to it.

      January 10, 2011
  5. Linda Watkins (Mom) #

    If you were in Florence this morning I wouldn’t have to get a snowball out of the freezer. We are getting LOTS of the white stuff. Wish you were here and we could have a snowball fight.

    January 10, 2011
    • We just have freezing rain that’s weighing down the citrus trees right now. MTM had to go to a meeting with the Mayor, and then he’ll probably come back and pick as many oranges as he can in all this mess.

      January 10, 2011
  6. A Guess #

    As I am married to a Canadian I get lots of grief about Southerners reactions to the mere rumor of snow. I met my husband in Montreal and the night he first kissed me it was snowing and we had a snowball fight which I lost handily as I had participated in maybe three snowball fights in my entire lifetime at that point. On the day after this past Christmas when it snowed enough for my daughter to make snowballs to launch and me and her daddy I thought about that Montreal snowball fight. I’m glad to live in a place where snow is special. If it happened everyday it probably wouldn’t have the power to make me think about that night in Montreal 15 years ago.

    January 10, 2011
    • Oh, I haven’t heard that story. I LOVE it!!

      I’m really glad that it’s fun to go visit snow. Finally, I can walk in it somewhat confidently.

      January 10, 2011
  7. Andra, what a wonderful story! Your Mom obviously has a very playful side, maybe you’ve inherited it from her?

    I’ve never saved snow. Maybe it was the scientific parents I have, but they always told me snow was dirty…but I ate it anyway and did indeed get my mom to make snow cream a few times.

    In my early 40s I was dating someone from Michigan and went home with him to those wintry shores after Christmas. We were in Grand Rapids for New Year’s Eve. In my recently acquired parka, deer suede gloves lined with Thinsulate and my snow boots and rag wool socks, I was toasty as we gathered in an open square with 100s of others to celebrate the turning of the year. I loved seeing GR in the snow.

    We went during the day to see the wonderful Prairie Style Meyer May Frank Lloyd Wright house there. The natural wood finished in the house just gleamed with the reflected light off the snow! –However, I digress…

    After our celebration we walked back to the B&B in which we were staying (a very grand Colonial revival manse with a sweeping stair in the entrance hall and hand painted wallpaper) and back to our beds (they were twin beds). To say the bedroom was cold is an understatement. I think the temperature in there was 40, and there were few blankets. I was colder inside than I had been outside. I piled clothes on top of the bed and finally I got some sleep, but awakened with a raging fever. That was when I realized that an oncoming flu was what had made me have the shivers all night and had accentuated the temperature difference. (It was really cold in that house.)

    As we piled our stuff into the car, even sick as I was, I looked up and saw the rising sun sparkling off the icicles handing off the eves of every house on the street. That was when the “icicle” fringe of lights I had seen while visiting Frankenmuth, MI, for the first time that trip made sense to me. (Andra, Frankenmuth is home to Bronner’s Christmas store–the most gigantic Christmas emporium ever, you would just lose your mind in there.)

    I desperately wanted one of those icicles to cool my fever, but alas, the roof-lines were still too high…

    We were chased back down the road by an oncoming blizzard. I was sick in just about every rest stop between here in Michigan. Finally getting to my mother’s house in Anderson, where she had called the local doctor and obtained some anti-nausea meds so I could sleep. When I awakened, I found that the winter wonderland had followed us South to Carolina.

    So feeling much better, I was able to sit in my mothers gleaming walnut paneled den, sip tea and feel snug.

    January 10, 2011
    • My mom wouldn’t make snow cream for us much, either. She also said the snow was dirty. And, with our little dustings, it probably was.

      I seem to remember Vera saying that her mom would only make snow cream with the first snowfall of the year.

      I’m glad that, like you, I grew up in a place where snow makes everything a wonderland. I can just see you, shivering and shaking, and still loving to watch the snow fall. Lovely story, in spite of how sick you were.

      I follow Bronner’s Christmas on Twitter. They’re pretty friendly. And, you’re right. I must never, ever darken the door of that place. :)

      January 10, 2011
  8. most of my good winter stories have happened here where nobody’s used to anything resembling winter.

    just after i moved to charleston, there was a light dusting of snow. There was the guy in the big bad pick up who decided i was driving too slow on wet icy road. he zoomed around me onto the james island connector and promptly spun out, did a couple of 360s pinballing off the walls and nearly hit a police car in the process.

    I cruised along behind him and laughed as i drove by.

    January 10, 2011
    • My remedy for days like this? I don’t drive. I know I don’t know what I’m doing, and I don’t have enough opportunities to practice my skills. ;)

      January 10, 2011
  9. Having spent forty seven winters someplace where it actually snows, I could probably tell snow stories for several hours, so I won’t. Yes, we had years when the snow that fell in Dec. didn’t melt until April. I’ve seen 24 below temps at my house. I’ve camped in the Adirondack Mountains in January (had no thermometer, so I have no idea how cold it was at night, but the snowmobilers we ran into said it got all the way up to 0 one day). Real snow weather. This stuff doesn’t really count.

    Driving in the snow is like running a car at the track, only slower. Everything happens in slow motion. It all happens the same way, only the limits are WAY lower. Growing up I used to spend hours driving around in the snow storms, late at night after the folks that didn’t want to be out in it had gone home. Had a wonderful time practicing the kind of slides you can do at 100 MPH, but at a much more sedate pace of about 10-15 MPH.

    One winter I lived on a lake. My parking spot was about one foot above the water and you could just cross thirty feet of lawn and be out on the ice. Got a lot of practice in that year — nice high speed stuff you could never do on a public road.

    All this practice probably saved my life more than once when I needed the skills (I used to drive close to 50,000 miles a year no matter what the weather). Besides, it was a hell of a lot of fun!

    January 10, 2011
    • The only thing that I’ve never done in the snow that I’d like to try, Bill, is sledding. I don’t care that I can’t drive in it. But, I really, REALLY wish, just once in my life, I could run a sled down a hill as fast as I can take it.

      I’ll bet camping in the Adirondacks was gorgeous in the snow. I always enjoy hearing your stories about your visits there. And, everything else you tell. :)

      January 10, 2011
      • Linda Watkins (Mom) #

        I loved the sledding as a child or even older. After I married, Pam and I slid down the bank behind my home place in KY on a big square piece of metal. We rarely had a sled growing up but used cardboard boxes, boards – anything that would slide. There’s nothing like flying down a hill not knowing where you will end up.

        January 10, 2011
      • I couldn’t believe it when you went tubing in Montreal that year. It was a delight to watch you.

        January 10, 2011
      • Sledding is great fun, but unless you’ve a wide open area in which to do it, with a reasonably smooth surface, it’s a pretty violent form of entertainment.

        You are probably picturing one of those beautiful movie scenes, shot in a wide open, gently sloping field. What we did was more like extreme sports.

        The house I grew up in was halfway up a very steep hill (roll a push lawnmower steep) with the downhill portion around back. Only the front 2/3 of the lot was cleared, the back third was woods. The first half of the run was on the grass, then we’d get into the trees and it would get interesting (all those head-on collisions with trees and boulders might explain a lot ).

        The best place for tobogganing was the golf course — much bigger hill, fewer trees (but still a hazard), and of course there where the bunkers. Nothing quite like running into a bunker and coming to a dead stop and having the three other riders stop by slamming into you.

        I’m pretty sure we all collected our fair share of sledding scars. I clearly remember a very messy head wound when one of my best friends didn’t quite make the turn around the neighbor’s house.

        January 10, 2011
      • Bill, I don’t even know WHAT to picture with sledding. It is such a foreign concept to me. With all of MTM’s family that lives in the Great White North, I should definitely make a point to try it soon.

        Minus the injuries, of course. :)

        January 10, 2011
      • I highly recommend an area without obstacles for your first sledding attempt. Something like the bunny hill at the ski slope.

        January 10, 2011
  10. Laura Evans #

    My only issue in getting downtown today was the downed power line at 17 and Wesley. Bless our little City of Charleson policeman’s heart–he tried to help by pulling up to the downed line to divert traffic. However, he pulled his car right over it then got out to direct traffic. I rolled down my window and told him that I did not think covering a sparking line with an idling car was a good idea. He was not appreciative and looked at me as if I had snakes growing out of my head–then dismissively told me to move on through the intersection. I tell you this so that, if you hear of a City police car that exploded at Wesley Drive, you’ll know I tried to prevent it.

    January 10, 2011
    • Great. Our police force really doesn’t know how to deal with winter weather, either. At least you tried.

      January 10, 2011
  11. mtm #

    Only one thing better than a Snow Day……a Snow Day where you can actually go outside and play in the snow! Couldn’t even muster up a slush ball this morning.

    January 10, 2011
    • You did knock some ice off the citrus tree, though…….

      January 10, 2011
  12. Teresa Mello #

    Ah, the beauty of a snow day! What wonderful memories waking up and turning on the local AM radio station to hear that my little school was closed for the day! There is a little park down the street from where I grew up and it had the most wonderful hill….all the neighbor kids would be there with their sleds, trash bags, cardboard squares! Oh, the fun we had.

    The worst thing? Hearing for 3 freaking weeks that you don’t have school because of the blizzard that hit. 3 WEEKS WITH NO SCHOOL! There goes spring break and two extra weeks of school at the end of the year! We had to make up time by going in half day shifts in one school! Junior High and High School in the morning and elementary school in the afternoon…..including Saturdays! Worst second half of school in 1978….my oldest sister’s graduation was delayed for 2 weeks!

    Second worst thing? Shoveling the heavy, wet stuff!

    Best thing about winter? Living in the South!

    January 10, 2011
    • TK, MTM loves shoveling snow. Ask him about this sometime. I simply don’t understand it.

      I’m with you. I always loved it when school was called off. And then I resented it when I had to go and make it up. It’s one of the best things about working from home, though. There’s always work to be done, and snow days (or what counts for them here) simply don’t matter.

      Several people have talked about 1978 today, by the way. My cousin (who lives in OHIO) and I reminisced about his snow people, all anatomically correct.

      January 10, 2011

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