I have lived in Georgia for over a decade, now, and I miss snow. Oh, I miss cultures that are not “The South” too. But I deeply miss places where it’s not considered cool enough for a jacket because the high is ‘only’ going to reach 75 (today’s forecast). If I were offered a job north of the mason-dixon I’d leap for joy. Well, let me be a bit more honest – I’d leap for joy if I was offered a job, period. North of the Mason-Dixon would just be a bonus at this point.
I don’t really miss shoveling snow. And the joys of driving in the slick stuff are pleasures I’m happy to forgo. But all things considered, I’d rather pay the heating bill than the cooling bill.
I miss sidewalks. I’ve often thought that the reason you don’t see sidewalks in the south is due to the lack of snow. Sidewalks? Yes, seriously. Most communities in the south that were built more than a decade ago don’t have sidewalks unless they’re in front of stores. The lawns run up to the street, and that’s just the way it is. Nobody walks much, and those that do just do so in the street. Walking in the street in the south is just as suicidal as it is in the north; the cars do NOT like dodging around you.
Where there is regular snowfall you have to shovel a path if you intend to walk, and walking in the street that’s covered with snow and ice is pretty much suicidal. Almost every small community I know where the snow falls regularly has a sidewalk. Except in the very, very rural communities (which still tend to have them – we had sidewalks in most of Hugo, Colorado, population 400 or so) they were just something you had.
I miss the culture of the areas where the snow falls. After a decade, it saddens me to say my wife’s social observation of the south is accurate. The south’s culture is, as she says, very oriental. (Actually she says “Asian”. I say oriental because I mean not just Asia but the historical Orient, to include through Iran and not-Iran.) Face and Ancestors are dominant issues underlying every interaction, with major input from The Faith. Growing up in Kansas and Colorado I was steeped in beliefs of individualism – that what mattered was what you did, not who your parents were. That doing the right thing was more important than doing the proper thing. Mountain men, plains scouts, indian wars, sod houses, infinite seas of grass… these are the stories that molded me and those with whom I’d grown up. Down here, it’s the civil war and race. Aristocracy reborn and in temporary exile; and like all such after many generations, it seems almost everyone carries “nobility” in their veins. And I, down here a decade and having ancestors who lived in this area a handful of generations ago, am a peasant intruder still.
There are places in the north which have much in common with the south – deny it though both sides may. I don’t think I’d fit there very well, either. But at least I’d have snow.
I am in exile. Someday I’ll gain the small things necessary to leave. I will have done my duty by my daughter that she be strongly launched into the world; I’ll always be shelter when times are bad, but I will no longer be protector and provider. I’ll have accumulated the small things necessary to survive and even thrive despite one more move; an inevitable pain regardless of the long-term gain. Perhaps it shall have to wait for my ‘retirement’. Perhaps it will be sooner. But someday, I hope to come home. Home, wherever it may be, but someplace where it snows every winter.
I miss snow.