Thursday, February 01, 2007

Snow Day!

In the Deep South, if anyone even mentions the word "snow," traffic on the interstate grinds to a halt and the grocery store shelves are instantly emptied of milk, bread, eggs, toilet paper and beer. Which really begs the question why people feel the need to make French toast and sit on the toilet on the one day we have inclement weather each winter, but that is beside the point.

So when the forecasters dare to mention the word "ice," virtual pandemonium breaks out. In addition to the aforementioned items, the grocery stores also sell out of firewood and bottled water (which makes slightly more sense). People huddle in their houses and wait for "the big one." After the storm passes, you can purchase t-shirts from street vendors that read, "I Survived the Storm!"

Now, there hasn't been a snow storm of consequence that I can recall since 1993, when we got a record two feet of snow, which shut down most of the state for nearly a week. But when the weather forecast called for some ice last night, all hell broke lose.

To my pleasant surprise, I awoke this morning to an e-mail message from the university letting me know that the school was closed due to inclement weather. I had conveniently neglected to complete my Public Health assignment, so the snow day bought me a couple extra days.

Let me tell you, any time the university decides to cancel school, I don't think twice about it and enjoy the hell out of an extra day off, putting out of my mind the fact that we will probably have to make it up sometime later in the semester.

Winter south of the Mason-Dixon stands in stark contrast to my undergraduate alma mater in the northeast, affectionately referred to by my father as The Frozen Tundra. Sadly, it's not an inaccurate description. My undergrad university prided itself on having not canceled a day of classes in over 30 years, leaving students grumble, freeze and curse their way to class through the snow, ice and slush from October through April.

I distinctly remember my first winter living up north. The first snow we got had me dancing around my dorm room in my pj's, celebrating the fact that I could stay inside and sip cocoa all day. People looked at me like I was from Mars. "Get dressed and get your ass to class," they said. "The university hasn't canceled classes in 30 years and probably won't cancel them for 30 more."

After the first big blizzard I experienced up there, I was convinced I'd get a day off. Again, no such luck. The plows had come through early in the morning and the sidewalks were freshly salted, which astonished me because at home, the only snowplow in the state is at the airport. I was late to class because I had to throw myself over a three-foot snow drift and got stuck on top of it like a turtle, flailing around on that pile of snow in my wool coat, hat, scarf and gloves, my backpack not making things any easier.

Needless to say, I don't have the constitution to live up north any longer than I actually did. The mild winters are one of the many reasons I'm glad to be back down South. I sometimes laugh to myself at the people who panic at the mention of flurries, but I'm not too good to enjoy a snow day when the university decides to throw one my way.

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