This is winter in Mississippi. North Mississippi, I might add. And if this is all of winter we get for the year, I’ll be happy. Also: I took these photos only about two feet from my front door, because that’s the sort of tough and no-holds-barred investigative journalist I am … one who doesn’t like to get cold. Also no. 2: Can you tell that I just discovered the Picasa collage feature? Sweet!
Less than a week ago around here, schools were closed and cars were sliding off roads and we were all hunkered down for about the third or fourth time that ice and snow had come to the South this year. Today, however, when you step outside in the sunshine and the semi-warm breeze, I swear you can hear the flowers growing and the tree branches starting to bud. Or I would hear flowers growing if I actually had planted any in our yard. While Southerners love spring and its reinvigorating warmth and gentle unfurlings of fresh color, the season’s arrival exposes pathetic non-gardeners such as me who can hide their lack of green-thumb talent behind winter’s freezing temperatures. I’m perfectly content to spend January and February and even March curled up on the couch in front of the fireplace and watching basketball on TV. But once March Madness kicks in, the gardening guilt follows close behind: When everybody else is energetically outside, enthusiastically wielding seed packages, trowels and watering cans, it’s difficult to justify lounging around in your jammies. So, while I certainly don’t want anybody to get hurt and everybody is oh-so-tired of snow days and school closings, I wouldn’t mind a little more winter before spring arrives for good. I’m not ready to give up lazy weekend afternoons wrapped up in my cozy blankie and yelling at the TV screen, “What are you talking about? That was NOT a foul! Check your eyes, ref!”
Here down South, we’ve been doing a lot of un-Southerly things lately. Like trying to figure out how to get 6 inches of snow off our cars. (“Do you have an ice scraper, by any chance? You know, it looks like a little squeegee thing.”) Trying to dress for 20-degree weather. (Layers.) And watching hockey games in real live person. Well, OK, it’s true that you can watch hockey throughout the South almost anytime during the winter, but the threat of snow and ice outside seems to add to the authentic hockey experience. A couple of nights ago, Dear Husband and I watched a hockey game in Tupelo, Mississippi, between Mississippi State University and Louisiana State University — schools better known, admittedly, for football than hockey. The teams were club teams, not NCAA-sanctioned, but the young men on the ice had all the heart of top NCAA athletes. Maybe more. There was no glory. No TV cameras. No big fat checks. (In fact, the games were fundraisers for the hockey programs.) But there was an enthusiastic crowd and plenty of MSU cowbells. And to readers still puzzled by the idea of ice hockey in the South: Arenas and coliseums, such as the Bancorp South Arena in Tupelo, turn their floors into ice rinks during the winter for hockey and public ice skating. Sadly, though, Bancorp South had to cancel its ice-skaing sessions this past weekend … because of, you know, snow and ice.
Snow! We have snow in the South!! Also: We have a national championship!!! I’m not sure which delights folks more. Oh, wait, of course it’s Auburn winning the national Bowl Championship Series title. I tried to pick out friends who’d made the trip to Arizona as the TV cameras panned over the thousands and thousands of Tigers fans, but all that orange and blue sort of blended together into one. Like the team itself. (And my sports-editor husband doesn’t think I could be a sportswriter!). Back home, far away from the televised football frenzy, the soft fluffy comforter of snow (I refuse to use the “blanket” cliché) still is keeping things quiet. In my town of Corinth, Miss., the square is deserted except for folks like me out walking and snapping shots such as this one of the Fillmore Street Presbyterian Church — and families mounting riotous snowball fights in the streets. In my family, the competition as always centers on art. Older Daughter reported that she started out making a snow-kid for our 2 3/4-year-old grandson Capt. Adorable. It turned into a snow tower, which she felt looked a bit … well … anatomical, so she changed it to something she called a snow bunny by adding ears and arms. Her artist husband, however, created an entire snow train, topped off with actual ashes from their fireplace for the tinder box. Artistry on the football field combined with artistry in a snowy front yard — I love the South!
Breaking news! It’s snowing in Alabama!!! We don’t get winter very often around here, but the weather folks were right this time. It’s a soft and lazy couple inches right now but supposed to get worse as temps stay below freezing and the snow continues all morning. I took these photos on our back deck looking into the backyard where earlier this week we were sitting out on the deck enjoying a glass of wine and some wonderfully warm temperatures. Now we’ve got a “major winter storm.” I know, I know — for all y’all used to blizzards and snow drifts and shoveling your car out of the driveway these are pictures of spring-like weather, but believe me this is big-time Southern winter. And we love it! Makes me want to hunker down, bring in more firewood or, really, turn the logs on and make another pot of coffee. It does not make me want to find some snow boots and mittens and a scarf and a jacket and go out tramping around. I love snow. It’s beautiful and wonderful — and best viewed through a window. Which is why my part in ski vacations is to stay warm and dry at the bottom of the slopes and nod and applaud enthusiastically as family members shoosh on by: “Good job! Nice run! Way to go!” I’m really good at that.
If you’re stuck inside today, be sure to read about Paul Harvey, who died on Saturday. Back in the early 1980s when I was a newbie newspaper reporter, I was thrilled — absolutely thrilled — when Paul Harvey read on air a story of mine AP had picked up on this new phenomenon of Elvis Presley impersonators. I focused on a young boy — I think he was 6 or 7 — who was making a local name for himself by donning a white sparkling jumpsuit and belting out “You Ain’t Nothing But a Hound Dog.” Thank you for that, Mr. Harvey. You never knew what you meant to a young journalist in east Tennessee. Read more about this influential man at http://www.abcrn.com/harvey/.