Spring breezed through the kitchen today when husband John Pitts politely wondered if perhaps I might possibly scramble him some eggs to fortify him for his wintry trek to work this morning. (I actually cook — I mean turn-the-oven-on-and-cause-pots-and-pans-to-become-dirty cook — about once a week and he’s always careful to use this one opportunity thoughtfully.) He had told me a couple of days earlier that he had brought some farm-fresh eggs home from his office and, as with most cooking-related topics, I nodded and said “Oh, that’s nice” while at the same time wondering if I could sneak yet another Amazon box past him and if it was Annalise or Frank (or maybe BOTH of them???) who killed Rebecca. You know — important stuff. But this morning, with ice creaking outside and gray snowy light filtering in and SCHOOL CANCELLED YET AGAIN, I was more than happy to do the wifely thing and cook my husband some food. And I’m glad I did, because when I opened this box of real honest-to-goodness eggs from honest-to-goodness chickens who walk around on the honest-to-goodness ground as nature intended, it was as if we time-traveled to the middle of April, with sunshine and flowers and butterflies and all things spring. Thanks, nature. We needed that.
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 in northwest Alabama, we seem to really be getting winter this year. Usually we can count on mild and sunny with only a couple of freezing wet and dreary days here and there to remind us what winter is. But this year I’m starting to understand terms such as “winter blues” and “cabin fever” — we’ve had several runs of bitterly cold temps and wintery mix precipitation and looks as if that’s continuing. Ugh. The good news is that it doesn’t take much to amuse us — when my ugly winter raincoat is the most-worn item in my closet, I’m up for any bit of fun that comes my way. Luckily, Younger Daughter is hanging out at home before grad school starts. She’s taught me to play two-person Nertz (I even win every once in awhile), convinced me to take a tap-dance class with her (and has the grace not to laugh) and joined me in unhealthy addictions to “reality” TV (we think Jake the Jerk Bachelor deserves to end up with Vienna the Car-Wrecking Daddy’s Girl). Plus, she’s always up for a batch of chocolate-chip cookie dough — the perfect antidote for too much winter. And go here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nertz to find out about Nertz. I think it goes by many other names and many variations, but we play fast and simply: Get rid of your stack first and you’re the winner. Because we need more time to eat that cookie dough.
Now, we here in the mid-South do get freezing temperatures every year or so — for about a day or maybe two or three at the most. Not uncommon at all — we have to have a reason to wear all those scarves and gloves we got for Christmas, you know. But this week-long run of sustained bitter cold we’re in right now is a bit unusual. We’re talking really and truly cold here — pipe-bursting, fountain-freezing, thermal underwear-wearing, do-not-go-outside-without-your coat-and-hat cold. Brrrrrrrr. I was driving through downtown Florence, Alabama, on Monday afternoon and had to look twice at this hotel fountain to realize it was frozen absolutely solid. Younger Daughter just got back from a trip to Portland, Maine, to visit her very cool uncle and aunt (my younger brother and his wife) and except for the snow she said she feels as if she’s still there. Also except for the warming effects of napping with their 125-pound Alaskan malamute, Thule. Although in Maine folks are probably experienced enough to turn their fountains off when freezing weather threatens. I’m just saying.
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/.