Saturday, January 29, 2011
I think it says something about college students as a group that, three days into the semester, we were all wildly excited at the prospect of getting out of school for snow.
Campus seemed strangely subdued Wednesday afternoon as we waited for the weather event to begin, and there were few cars on the road when I left Major University several hours early to avoid the storm that was slated to hit just before rush hour.
As it turns out, I was smart to head out when I did; I was still on the road when the heavy rains turned into thick snow, and the furious system chasing me home left the highways in an ungodly state of gridlock until nearly midnight.
The snow was coming down at a torrid pace when I arrived at my house, piling up at the rate of two inches an hour.
"This is crazy," I told Powell when we went out for a grocery store run around five.
"I know," my brother responded. "You literally can't see to the end of the street."
Armed with ice cream, potato chips, chocolates, and chicken bouillon, we walked out of the supermarket and headed to the side parking lot where I'd left my car.
The snowfall was heavier than any I'd ever seen, and in the twenty minutes we'd been inside shopping my windshield and rear window had been totally covered in accumulation.
I wiped the fresh snow from atop my Oldsmobile and then, doing well under the 25-mile-per-hour speed limit, drove home through a town that was disappearing into the swirling hurricane of white.
The sky was the color of iron and fat snowflakes rushed down from it in an alabaster haze, raining down upon Mountain Town like paratroopers from an invading winter army.
I couldn't believe the intensity of the storm. The snow was so thick that it obscured nearby buildings as it blew sideways, and its component drops raced toward the ground.
Usually, at least around here, snow tends to float gracefully on the wind. This snow, though, moved like stones shot out of the sky.
"I wonder if this is what it's like to live up north?" I thought aloud.
When Powell and I walked through the front door we found my mother in the kitchen, conjuring up a huge pot of her renowned chicken noodle soup to fortify our household against the cold deluge outside.
Her efforts were very much appreciated, not only by her four children but by the cohort of young associates ambling about our house: Black Boy and Younger Neighbor, 19- and 18-year-old brothers who live next door and are close friends with Thomas; and Coffee-Shop Girl, a 17-year-old high school Senior who has dated both Thomas and Powell.
Our kitchen table was crowded as eight people drew up chairs and helped themselves to full bowls of the delicious steaming soup.
"BB, don't take pictures of me," my mother admonished.
"I'm not," I said. "I'm taking pictures of the food."
My mother sighed and Pie, with a straightforward look, informed me matter-of-factly, "You're weird."
The next day we slept late, then bundled up to go sledding.
At first I was quite irritated at being pulled away from my books and warm couch to shepherd Pie and Mischievous Boy, our six-year-old neighbor, to the site, but after we actually got there and started racing down the incline on our inner tubes and plastic toboggans I forgot my initial reluctance to go.
It was all great fun, and we were really very fortunate that the couple whose house happened to sit on one of the best sledding hills in the neighborhood had no trouble with a bunch of random children--and one 22-year-old--occupying their backyard.
It was a nice way to spend a Thursday off from school.
After two hours hurling ourselves head-first, backwards, and sideways down the steep mound we hitched a ride home with my mother.
I ate until I thought I would explode, then slept like a baby through a bitterly cold night.