Living in the South has its advantages as well as disadvantages. One of the advantages is mild winters. It doesn’t generally get too cold here, rarely below freezing, and our winter precipitation is generally in the form of rain. Of course, that doesn’t mean we don’t get winter weather here; it’s just not as bad as what we left behind in Chicago.
Things here get pretty interesting when the temperature hovers around 32° (0° C) and it’s raining. That’s when we get either sleet, which comes down in ice pellets, or freezing rain, rain that freezes on whatever it fell on, including roads, overhead power lines, and our front stairs. That’s when I stay in the house, because I have enough trouble walking on dry ground, let alone stairs, sidewalks and other places that have ice and snow on them. It can take a few days for the ice that forms on the front stairs to melt, because our house faces north, meaning from December to March the sun is behind the house and the stairs are in the shadows.
And yes, we do get some snow, and when we do we (i.e. Mary and I) don’t know how long we’ll be stuck inside. Only the brave, the foolish, and the poor bastards that have to go into the office regardless of the weather are out on the roads when they’re covered with ice and snow. Atlanta and most of the surrounding counties have some snow equipment that can clear the main roads pretty well, but since we don’t know from year to year whether it’s going to snow, we don’t spend a lot of money on things that can dry off the roads. Usually, we just wait it out, and after several days the roads clear themselves pretty well. (Except for that little patch of street in the shadow of the massive magnolia tree in front of our house. Ice there can stay until summer. At least that’s how it seems.)
Driving in Atlanta is an adventure when the roads are covered with ice and snow. The first time I tried to drive home in the snow, I was driving slowly, because it was slippery and the road was hilly. Apparently this did not sit well with the man in the large and expensive Mercedes behind me. I came up to the light right before the bridge over the Chattahoochee River and he sped around me, flipping me off on the way. Well, you know how they always warn you “bridges freeze before roads”? When this smartass hit the bridge, his car spun around about three times. When I drove past him, he was white as a ghost. I think he learned his lesson.
Anyone who has been here for some time remembers the snowstorm we had in March of 1993. I flew home from a business trip one Friday night and remember that it was misty and wet outside, but still pretty warm. When I got home, Mary said they had been forecasting snow, and I asked her if she wanted to let Lips, a stray cat we had been feeding outside (the name is another story), in, and she said no, she’d be all right outside. We went to bed, and during the night the temperature had dropped below freezing and the rain had changed to snow. When I got up there must have been six inches of snow on the ground, and it was still falling. I woke Mary, she took one look outside and said “Lips!”
Have you ever seen the cartoons where someone gets left out in the snow, and when they come back in it’s like a giant walking snowball? That’s what Lips looked like when she came inside. Needless to say, she became a permanent resident that day.