Southern Insanity

I’ve lived my entire life in the American South.  My mother’s family had been here for generations before I was born.  So I’m familiar with southern eccentricities.  I don’t know that we have more of them than any other region, but I do think we’re more open about them.

We’re not really keen, however, on having people from other places comment on our particular peculiarities.  That’s kind of like going to visit a neighbor you scarcely know and saying  something like, “Wow, your Uncle Fred….He’s really cracked, huh?”

Snow2014-1But there’s one thing I suspect most sane southerners would readily admit: We don’t know how to drive in snow.  Really, we don’t.  Except for those of us who live in mountains or in areas that get regular snow.  They’re a minority, though.

It’s not that we never have snow here in the Carolina Piedmont.  We do.  Just not very often and usually not very much.  I remember my dad putting chains on the tires when we had big snowfalls during my grade school years.  Then, of course, the chains had to be removed in a few days, after the snow had melted, lest driving around on them destroy the tires.

Snow2014-2So anyway, I readily admit I do not know how to drive in snow.  I know in theory–slow down, allow plenty of room to stop, try not to stop on a hill if you can avoid it, etc. (This is kind of a problem because we live on a hill that has a stop sign at the top.)  But knowing the theory is very different from putting it into practice.  Kind of like reading a how-to book or twelve on novel writing is very different from actually writing a novel.

All this is important at the moment because snow has been falling (and sticking) for a few hours as I write this.  We may get several inches.  This comes on the heels of the sleet/ice from last week, though that melted in a little more than a day.

The vast majority of us go a little nuts when snow starts to fall.  We fixate on our favorite sources of weather forecasts. Stores immediately sell out of milk and bread.  They just restocked from selling out for the sleet/ice, but people apparently failed to amass sufficient stockpiles then and so mobbed them again.

Those of us who don’t have to venture out try not to, at least not in cars. The dh, who grew up in the mountains of Colorado and so learned to drive even in serious snow, isn’t fazed by it, but I consider keeping my snow-ignorant self out of the driver’s seat whenever possible a public service I perform for my fellow citizens.

Snow2014-4I do like to venture out to take pictures.  Her Majesty loves the snow.  It seems to energize her in some odd way, as it did the dog we had when the boy was born.

When he was small, of course, we went out in the snow to play. He still likes to help his dad build things with it, though that requires a decent accumulation, not sleet or ice but several inches of actual snow.

Last winter, we had enough snow for the dh to construct a small model of NYC’s Chrysler Building. We’ll have to see whether we get enough this time for him to go create something with it.

How do you feel about snow?  Is it an exciting change or a frequent inconvenience? What’s your favorite way to cope with winter weather?

And by the way, I’m still planning to blog on the 26th of every month. But you can also find me on Facebook, where I’m NancyNorthcottAuthor, and on Twitter where I’m @NancyNorthcott.  And I’ll always have writing news on my website,, where I’ll soon be starting a weekly blog.





  • Helen says:

    Is he coming to visit

    Have Fun

  • Helen says:


    We never get snow LOL and I would think it so much fun but of course I have never driven in snow I have driven in severe rain storms with lots of thunder and lightning but no snow. I have been seeing all of the photos of the snow that seems to keep coming down in The States and I do feel for you all over here at the moment we have had a lot of rain and humidity and I am so looking forward to autumn which starts here in Oz on Saturday although it will probably be towards the end of March before we see any cool weather 🙂

    Stay warm everyone

    Have Fun

    • Helen, driving in heavy rain is tough. It cuts visibility, and there’s the danger if hydroplaning. We once drive to the beach in heavy rain (and after dark, which cut visibility further), and I’ve driven from Atlanta in it. It wasn’t fun.

      Our snow turned to rain in the night, so now we have slush. Not very picturesque. Nor is it suitable for constructing copies of famous buildings. We’re hoping it melts fast. And we’re grateful not to live in Boston, which has been hammered this winter.

    • Cassondra says:

      Wow, Helen, I had assumed your “seasonal change” occurred on the solstice, same as ours. (That’s March 20th or so I think). Shows what I know! Really interesting to find out you’re heading into fall a few weeks before we head into spring!

  • Jane says:

    Hello Nancy,
    I like the white stuff when it’s fluffy and still clean, but I really hate the dirty slushy type that ends up on the streets. It’s more of an inconvenience, but it’s not too bad when you live in the city and the plows do come often.

    • Jane, there’s nothing that looks so dirty as dirty snow. I enjoy a pretty snowfall, but I’m ready for it to go away after a day or two. We get so little snow here that we have few plows, so it’s rare for residential areas to have their streets plowed. Shady areas can stay icy for a while.

      Looks like that won’t be a problem this time–unless we get a cold snap and all this slush freezes. Ugh!

  • flchen1 says:

    We pretty much never get snow, so for us, visiting snow is a fun and special occasion 😉 We do still like bundling up for cold, and making stews and chilis and soups… I know I’d likely not survive a move to a location with real seasons though! Glad you’ll still be here in the Lair, Nancy, and elsewhere!

    • Thanks, Fedora!

      There’s something particularly comforting about hot soup on a cold day. The dh grew up with winter the dominant season, summer in there for a brief bit, and almost no spring or fall. He likes having defined seasons, but I think that may be because there’s less winter. I’m not sure how he’d feel about it if he’d gone from spring/summer to serious winter instead.

  • ki pha says:

    Omg, since I live in the Midwest I absolutely am tired of the snow. At first it’s fine but as it starts to linger longer than it should, I absolutely hate it, like how I’m feeling about it now. How do I cope? Try not going outside but that’s like impossible.

    And glad you’ll still be here but I’l catch you I cyber space too.

    • Thanks, Ki Pha! Snow in the Midwest seems not to get much coverage, maybe because it’s a usual thing? But it seems as though y’all have had a lot of it this year. If I get tired of it after a few days, I figure dealing with it for weeks must be really wearing.

  • Shannon says:

    Another snow day here in DC, and as one friend says, “I’m so over winter.” The silver lining is that the forecast says it will hit 50 next Wednesday. One more week. And then I’ll have the dilemma of what coat to wear. I cannot wait!

    Hope to see you elsewhere on the web.

  • Deb says:

    I live in Iowa….Winter is snow, snow is winter. I would rather have ten inches of snow over even the tiniest bit if ice or freezing rain. (Shuddering with horror as I remember the ice storm of 7 years ago, this month, that left us without power for 6 days and nights.)
    I don’t like driving in snow, but thank goodness for 4-wheel drive. We had 3.5 inches yesterday…a few weeks ago we had 11 inches. Four winters ago, late October to mid-April, we had record snow of 54″, followed the next winter by 52″. This year, we gave had , maybe, 25″.?? So, Snow=Iowa. 🙂 I do very much dislike the bitter cold, windchills of -25 below….like today.

    • Deb says:

      Oops, lots of typos…sorry.

    • Deb, no worries on the typos! They just happen sometimes.

      I would hate to deal with that kind of cold. I know people have strategies for it, but it seems very intimidating. You’ve really had a lot of snow this winter, but at least spring should be along soon!

  • We dodged the bullet here in Bama this time. Instead of snowpocalypse we had rainpocalypse. It is bitterly cold, but I will take that over driving on the roads with the citizens of Alabama. They (a) don’t know how to drive in the snow and (b) refuse to believe they can go a day without coming to Walmart.

    I’ve lived in places where winter snow was the norm so I do know a bit more about dealing with it, but I refuse to get on the roads with other Southern drivers when there is snow unless I absolutely have no choice.

    I will be so glad when winter is finally over. I am simply tired of being cold. Can’t handle it like I could when I was younger living in Germany and England.

    Of course every time we get complacent about those warnings of snow we usually get hit with one last hurrah from winter, usually around Easter. One year without too much warning we got six inches of snow overnight. Yes, Alabama lost its mind for those few days.

    Stay safe and warm everyone !!

    • Caren Crane says:

      So glad the snow missed you, Louisa. I’m sure the Walmart is always extra crazee when y’all have “weather.” 😀

      My husband went to the store last night (unrelated to the “weather”) and did not get eggs, which we actually needed, although he got bread and milk. I threatened to revoke his Southerner card. How can you get through “weather” without eggs??

    • Louisa, many people around here seem to think being in an SUV or a big truck means they can drive as though the road were clear. They forget all about the distance required to stop a heavy vehicle on ice.

      The dh likes to go to the grocery store every day. I don’t actually understand why, but at least he has the skills to drive in snow and ice, though I do worry because the same cannot be said for many people on the roads with him.

  • Sally Schmidt says:

    I grew up in the Chicago area so I can drive in it, but I now living in the SF Bay Area and am happy to NOT have to drive in it unless I want to. And truly, drivers going to (as opposed to those living in) Tahoe, do not know how to drive in it either. The best part of snow and ice is sitting by nice warm fire, book and drink at hand, and looking out the window at it.

  • jcp says:

    it’s s frequent but I’m used to it.

  • Colleen C. says:

    I actually like snow, but have not seen it in years… I kind of miss it, but I know it is driving everyone back East crazy.

  • Patty L. says:

    I hate snow! I hate cold! I hate winter! I want warm air, blue skies (I will even take clouds if it is warm), green grass and the a pool. I wants are relaxing and warm. I hates are cold, wet and the frozen tundra that has become my house.

  • pjpuppymom says:

    I grew up in a snow belt but I’ve lived in the south long enough for it to become a novelty. If I felt better I’d be out playing in it right now.

    We didn’t get any of the rain here, Nancy. The snow started about 7:30 last night and came down until after midnight. I measured 5 inches this morning. (photos posted on my facebook page) It’s the heavy snow that’s great for rolling and packing. Have seen a few snowmen popping up around the neighborhood.

    Rachel thought it was pretty cool while it was falling last night (big, fluffy flakes) but hasn’t been interested in playing in it today. One of my neighbors was playing snow frisbee with his Lab around midnight. They were both having a great time. Rachel, by the way, was snuggled up in bed with me and already snoring by that time. lol

    • Caren Crane says:

      PJ, it’s a good thing for you that Rachel isn’t a snow dog. I saw one poor neighbor out walking her snow dog (a Golden Retriever) at 7:30 this morning. I felt so sorry for her! The dog, however, was having a GREAT time!

    • PJ, what a difference a few miles make! The “rain/snow line” shifted north so we got rain but not far enough that you did. I’m glad you and Rachel are tucked up and cozy and that there’s enough snow to play in. We mostly have melting slush. :-/

  • Caren Crane says:

    Nancy, I didn’t grow up around snow much, either, being a many-generations Southerner. But I am not hesitant to drive when it’s like it currently is outside (very wet snow and ice, which will be a solid sheet come morning), as long as I have a car suitable to the conditions. Mostly that’s because I have an overly positive opinion of my driving skills! 😀

    I do know to turn into a skid and all those other things that are easier said and known than done. I also tend to go fairly slow, which makes most snowy maneuvers better. I did have an accident one time when approaching an intersection (very slowly) with a stop sign. There was about 2 inches of ice right near the stop sign. I slowed. I braked. My car slid on, right into the rear of a delivery truck. It was unavoidable. Only chains would have helped!

    Generally, though, I like to sit at home when it’s snowy. Watching it snow is something I have enjoyed since I was a little girl. I think only people who live where it snows infrequently feel that way! 😀

    I am indoors today and do not plan to go anywhere. My office closed, so I only have to log into work and check on a couple of critical business things at points throughout the day. One coming up at 2:00 pm, mere minutes from now!

    I hope everyone is safe and snug today. My daughter’s rental house in Chapel Hill is currently without power (as are many, many thousands of people across the state). It wouldn’t be so bad if her gas power didn’t rely on electricity to run! :/

    • Caren, I also like to watch it snow, and I agree that enjoyment is likely related to the comparative novelty of it. Accident or no, I admire your confidence in getting out in snowy weather.

      Sorry about the power in Chapel Hill! What a pain. I hope power crews will be able to get things going again soon.

  • Jo Robertson says:

    Snow, snow, snow! We’ve really been bombarded with it lately throughout the land, haven’t we?

    Not in California, though, except for the ski resorts, which are really almost Nevada so don’t count.

    Snow is not my favorite thing. I loved making snow cream and playing in it as a child, as did my children, but four years in Idaho cured me of my snow love.

    So, what I really want to know, Nancy, is how your “boys” built a replica of the Chrysler Building out of snow!!?? That sounds like a delicate and complicated project. That sounds amazing!

    • Caren Crane says:

      Jo, your 4 years in Idaho proved my theory. I think actually living in snow makes you incapable of ever again finding it magical. My poor husband, a native Charlottean, was stationed in Grand Forks, North Dakota during his stint in the Air Force. He never wants to see snow again! 😀

      He did say, though, that ice fishing with his friends in Minnesota was really fun. Apparently, it involves a lot more alcohol than fishing, but whatever!

      • Caren, I saw some people ice fishing on Alaska State Troopers last night, and it does appear that fishing is only part of the getaway, as it used to be for my dad and his friends.

    • Jo, he molded the shape and then carved out the detail. It didn’t last long, though, because the sun came out the day after it snowed.

      I suspect people who live with a lot of snow, as you did, are generally not as impressed by it as we are around here. It was fun to go out and play with the boy, or with an excited dog, but just slogging through it doesn’t appeal.

  • Amy Conley says:

    I absolutely HATE snow! Saying that, I will say I just plain old hate being cold. If it’s below 85 I am cold. I do know how to drive in it, and drive well, I used to live in Erie, Pa, if you didn’t know how to drive in the snow, you stayed home for six months.
    I live in southern In now, but after the last few winters you’d be hard pressed to know that with all the snow laying around.

    • Amy, sorry you’re having to deal with so much unexpected snow. I sympathize on the cold. I get cold easily and deal much better with heat (though we won’t even talk about humidity–ugh!)?

  • Hi Nancy –

    I look out my dining room window as I type it and there’s … snow. I don’t mind the snow as much as I do the bitter cold that seems to be hanging around extra long this year. I’m more than ready for warm temperatures – as is the cat! She’s experiencing a bit of cabin fever. Yesterday, the temps go up to 26 degrees which felt downright balmy. My husband and I went out to survey the fallen tree limbs (small self-pruners) and what not and the cat dashed outside in the snow. She didn’t stay out long but she was desperate for some fresh air and freedom. LOL

  • Kaelee says:

    Nancy ~ I’m glad you are staying here.

    We get a fair amount of snow here in Calgary but people here have snow tires or all weather radials. Snow tires are mandatory in the mountain areas nearby.

    I don’t mind the snow most of the time but I hate freezing rain. I also hate the snow when it comes early in the season or late in the season and damages the trees. This past September we had such a heavy fall before the trees had lost their leaves that every block had downed branches and even whole trees.
    It will take a long time to recover from that amount of damage.

    • Kaelee, thanks! I’m with you on sleet and freezing rain. In recent years, we’ve had more of that than snow, and those are just no fun at all. Can’t play in that mix, can’t build with it, and it brings down branches and power lines.

  • Pissenlit says:

    Hurrah! Another not last post day! 🙂

    Snow is snow. Snow happens. I don’t mind. Unfortunately, it also means shovelling the driveway and the sidewalk…which can be ick if there’s too much at one time…or if it’s all slushy and therefore heavy and possibly icy. Winter weather calls for hot tea and warm scarves and possibly hanging out on the sofa under a fleece throw. I’ve never seen chains on tires in real life. They sound kinda cool. Around here, it’s all about switching to snow tires in the winter.

    • Pissenlit, thanks!

      Chains are kinda cool, but they rattle when you drive, and they really will tear up the tires if there’s no snow for them to dig into. My parents used to put snow tires on in the winter, after the era of chains, but we seldom needed them.

      I drink a lot of tea in the winter. Had a cup of cranberry-blood orange and one of orange spice green tea this afternoon. I’ve fallen in love with the Celestial Seasonings Peach and sometimes have the Sleepytime Peach.

  • Cassondra says:

    Hi Nancy–

    I consider myself from the South, but I don’t fool myself into thinking it’s the REAL South. We’re the transition state here in Kentucky, and we’ve always had snow. The past few years of very warm winters are an anomaly, according to my mom who is 87, and they are in my experience as well.

    So I learned to drive on snow as soon as I started driving, and was taught the basics of it even before I started driving, because everyone knew you needed to be able to drive on it. Snow is easy. Ice? That’s not easy and I dread it, though I can drive on that too, to if I have to.

    I have always loved snow, and never dreaded it until I was a mail carrier and for my job I had to drive through deep snow and carry mail no matter the weather. Driving on snow is no issue. STOPPING on snow or ice—that’s dicey. For my mail route I had to drive almost 80 miles and stop 760 times. That was a hard day in the summer. On snow and ice it was a nightmare because when you tried to stop, you slid into the mailbox. That’s when I started to hate it.

    Now I don’t carry mail and I’m so glad, because I can enjoy snow again. I admit, though, that I’m ready for this to be gone, along with the cold. (We’ve had snow on the ground for more than two weeks here because the snow was deeper than usual.)

    Yup. I’m ready for spring.