I don’t like winter. Not even one little bit.
In “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, C.S. Lewis uses winter as an allegory for a world overcome by evil. Without hope. Without Jesus. And it’s an image we can all relate to in a visceral way because we’ve all lived through the months known as “January” and “February”.
We live in Richmond, where winters are usually mild. When you live in a place with mild weather it doesn’t snow very often, but when it does everyone loses their ever-loving minds. They write a blog each time it snows (here, here, here), school is even cancelled when snow is predicted. Everyone runs to the grocery store in a wild panic, and we all sit in our houses watching the same weather report overandoverandover and stare out the window, tapping our feet waiting for the first flakes.
Unless you’re not one of the people.
If you’re not one of those people, you’re one of the people who make fun of those people. You’re one of the people who roll your eyes and purse your lips at everyone else who is acting like two inches of snow is a big deal.
But this is what I think. I think two inches of snow is a big deal. Richmond might be one of the worst places in the world for snow because it does snow here, but not enough that we know how to handle it. We aren’t prepared, we don’t know how to drive, our cities have like one snow plow, and we don’t even have the right clothes. All my friends posted pictures of their kids playing in the snow wearing cotton. COTTON!
When Richmond has two inches of snow we go sledding, we wreck our cars, our plants die, we lose power, our pipes burst and we don’t know what to do.
And we don’t have to, because it never snows here.
On Tuesday night it started snowing and we lost power. Since we live in Richmond, we have no back up, no plan. If we lose power, we lose heat. The temperature outside was in the teens and our house dropped two degrees in fifteen minutes. If it had just been Tom and me, we might have bundled up and slept in our sleeping bags, but we have two babies. We threw some things in bags, wrapped our kids in blankets and drove to Tom’s parents house. In the 45 seconds it took to carry my baby from our house to the car in a blizzard, I felt like Sacagawea. Plus, it was 9:15 p.m. When you have babies, is the dead of the night; a time reserved for lunatics and those escaping snow emergencies.
I think we got three, maybe four inches of snow. Ever since temperatures haven’t gotten anywhere near above freezing. When I finally let my toddler out in the snow, he was screaming after five minutes because he took off his gloves, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway, because we live in RICHMOND and people in RICHMOND don’t buy snow gloves for their toddlers.
My brother-in-law is from Vermont. I bet his mom bought snow gloves in every size each winter for her kids. He’s not the type of person to ridicule people, but if he was, he would laugh at people who panic when it snows just a tiny little bit. And he would laugh if he heard that schools were cancelled for five days because of three? four? inches of snow.
In Vermont I think there’s snow on the ground from something like September to May. But in Richmond? In Richmond we hold our breath from late December to March, waiting for spring. We remember years when we get more than a few inches of snow at a time because it’s rare. And also because it’s rare, we aren’t ever, never, ever prepared.
I’m a Virginian born and raised, and that’s why I’ll never scoff at those people waiting in line for salt and shovels when the weatherman says snow. I’m much more likely to be one of them.