Because snow in the South is such a big deal, not only do we slow down time to enjoy every minute of it, but a Southern snow day can also have us all reminiscing over the hot cocoa and the piles of wet snow clothes by the fire. Our Staff Writer Melinda Long is a natural storyteller and this long weekend of winter weather brought back fond memories. We’re so glad she decided to share some of those memories with us.
The branches are hanging low with sheets of white and my car is now a somewhat car-shaped, white blob. Still, I can see lazy flakes drifting down. Four inches of snow is a lot for this area. I live in Northern Greenville, just inside city limits. When we hear “snow” we race to the store for milk, bread and various forms of comfort food. Usually an inch or so is what we can expect.
From the age of 10, I grew up in Travelers Rest, just north of here, where the snow is always deeper and it’s just a few degrees colder. Before living in Travelers Rest, we lived in various places, but days like this one always take me back to the tiny rental house on Chesnee Highway in Spartanburg, S.C.
The furnace was only a bare reminder of what heat was supposed to feel like. We wrapped up in quilts and sat on top of it to stay warm. Still, I don’t remember being cold.
I’m thinking it was early in 1966. I was nearly six and don’t recall ever playing in the snow before that. Perhaps we didn’t have enough in previous years. The night before, my parents started talking about snow coming up from Atlanta. The rule of thumb was that when it comes from Atlanta, watch out! This year the rule held true.
I woke to a white blanketed world. Mama bundled me up; scarves, hat, a coat big enough to swallow me, and socks on both hands and feet. We didn’t have gloves or mittens because it rarely got that cold. She covered my tennis shoes (no boots either) and the socks on my hands with plastic bags to keep them dry.
Then we went out, braving the cold, my mother, my brother and me; Daddy ran a milk route and was on the road despite the snow. One step off the back porch and my leg sank through the snow up to my knee. I was horrified. It took about a millisecond for me to jump back up to the porch! It took five or six minutes of Mama’s gentle coaxing to make me understand that I wouldn’t keep sinking until I reached China.
Mama showed me how to roll the snow into a ball. It was amazing! The more you rolled, the bigger the ball! Then came the snowman! I began rolling. One time around the house gave me a good-sized base, but I wasn’t satisfied. My mother and Mark went into the house to drink hot chocolate floating with marshmallows, but I kept on rolling. Two times and then three. There was a grassy racetrack around my house. I couldn’t feel my toes. Finally, my snowman bottom was taller than me. I had to have help getting the head on top and Mama made it real with a scrap of cloth for a scarf and a carrot and raisins for the face. Then I went in to regain the use of my fingers and toes and to drink several cups of cocoa.
My snowman stayed there long after the snow melted, waving to all the traffic. When he finally gave in to the warmer temps and settled into a snow hill and then a snow blob, I wasn’t sad. He’d had a good life. Mama said we’d always have him in our memories. She was right.