Snow Falling on Kudzu

Weather just isn’t what it used to be. No, I’m not talking about climate change this time. I’m talking about how in the good old days when a big snow storm moved through the piedmont we were left to our own imaginations to figure out how to experience it.

Even back when I was a kid in the 60s there were the Old Ones still saying poetic things two days out like, “Johnny, I believe those are snowbirds,” or “Oh my, I think it smells like snow this morning.” There were almanacs and rumors and memories, and these all added up to the weather.

At worst there was a TV weatherman with funny black glasses waving his arm at six p.m. up and down a weather map of a local channel and describing what might or might not happen as cold air and abundant moisture collided above our young hopeful heads, but that was all. All said, they were about as accurate as the grandparents.

No matter what happened there were preparations-milk and bread cleared from the shelves of every Community Cash in town.

But this morning as my deck lies blanketed with four beautiful inches of wet March snow, I think back on how this storm was announced and hyped and packaged on the cable channel: “It’s going to be Mega-storm Monday,” the Weather Channel anchor announced as the snow started. “It’s not mega because it’s going to produce a mega amount of snow but because it will affect a megalopolis as it heads up the Eastern Seaboard.”

And then came the Mega-Storm theme song, the Mega-Storm logo, and the false Mega-Storm excitement in the anchor’s voice, all wrapped around the certainty of Doppler radar and sets of weather models and scientific conclusions that drain all the mystery away from a snowstorm and turn it into a dramatic TV event.

But I look out my window at the early March snow and I try to pull myself up from the depths of my ironic post-modern gaze. It’s not 1965 anymore. It’s 2009 and I live in a world determined and bounded by contemporary technologies and possibilities that seem endless at times. There are conveniences and opportunities those grandparents wouldn’t believe. They’d probably trade the snowbirds omens for the Weather Channel if it meant more safety, more security.

I have to admit it does. We were in Columbia when the storm developed, and we were able through the certainty of the media to leave at exactly the right time to get home right at the predicted moment the snow started. We even had time to stop for milk and bread, and we had lots more choices-Bi-Lo, Publix, Fresh Market, Ingles.

Then I woke up early this morning so I could get out in the undisturbed snow before the world found it, but when I opened my front door all I heard was the droning hum of a couple of fancy in-ground generators somewhere in the neighborhood. That sort of spoiled it for me for a few moments. The present had found me once more, and I couldn’t even pretend it was 1965.

I’m dealing with it. I’ve got my first cup of coffee, my old fashioned wood fire, and my wireless laptop on which I’m waxing nostalgically about the weather of my childhood. The world, alas, is full of contradictions. There are good and bad things about the present and the past, as there will be both about the future. Time swirls about us like a storm, and we live in it.

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