Jen Jeffrey: There's Reasons Why We Southerners Struggle In Snow And Ice

Sunday, February 02, 2014 - by Jen Jeffrey
Jen Jeffrey
Jen Jeffrey

While living in Tennessee for over 30 years, it always amused me when people would rush to the store for milk and bread if we were expecting snow. These two staples aren’t even in my diet enough to be concerned about the lack of them – maybe that is because my kids are grown or my eating habits have changed over the years. The idea of thinking I must have bread and milk in the house ‘just in case’ is not a priority for me. I am more concerned with if I have enough toilet paper.

What Tennessee has called ‘snow’ my Kentucky heart refers to it as a ‘dusting’. If I can still see leaves or grass in between the snow, there just isn’t enough coverage to feel like it is a good snow. But I learned recently why it is so panic-driven if we are expecting snow in Chattanooga. It isn’t really the fact that some Chattanoogans quibble over how much frosty matter is considered snow, but moreover what it does to our city and counties. I witnessed the fiasco last week with our unexpected snow of under two inches. Granted, many Tennesseans don’t like snow… that’s why they live in a place that hardly sees it, but even they can be troopers as long as they are prepared and have their bread and milk and their kids home from school.

On the day of chaos the majority of my social media friends posted their grumblings on Facebook longing for spring already. Funny how those same friends who complain about the snow also complain about the heat of the summer (maybe I should call them my lukewarm friends).

I love a good hot summer so I live in the right place. Chattanooga summers get steamy hot, but as much as I love the summer I have been trying to change my attitude about winter and appreciate each season we have. I am a positive person and I don’t participate in a lot of negative debates, I try to get people to see a bright side.

I realize there are those who don’t give a Southern grit about my bright side and, no matter what I would say to my fussy-pants friends on Facebook, they still needed to vent their frustrations. That’s okay because they are my friends. I still love them and I try to understand their perspective.

And when the South was ‘paralyzed’ last week (as reported by much of the media) it became a platform for a war between the North and the South all over again!

There were links posted on Facebook and bloggers’ websites of news articles over the mess we had from Birmingham, Atlanta, Chattanooga and surrounding places. Along with those articles were comments and rants about how we Southerners deal with a little snow when people from the North could ‘deal with ten inches if blindfolded’.

Even though I remember my early childhood years of snow in Kentucky, and living one year in Minnesota, the majority of my life I have lived right here and it got my Tennessee dander up. When people actually have a ‘discussion’ where both perspectives are considered, I enjoy conversations whether political, religious or whatever controversial topics are brought up. It is the closed-minded bickering that I detest.

I watched the ridicule between the Yankees and the Rebels go back and forth, so I felt a need to tighten my corset, raise my petticoat and show my blooming Southern pride with a rant of my own Jen O’Hara style. Pardon me while I place my tongue in my cheek and pull out my Southern drawl for a few of you Yankees who have given us a hard time…

Oh Fiddle-dee-dee! Who is afraid of a little ol’ snow? Why… it wasn’t even enough to make snowcream much less a Yankee scream. What was all the fuss about?

We Southerners are just big ol’ babies when it comes to a little snow. Listening to the boastings about y’alls winter drivin’ skills and how y’all endured blizzards of several feet of snow and for longer amounts of time has become a broken record, Sugah.

It’s not that we are such ignoramuses that we don’t know any bettah. Shoot, I think we are pretty darn smart to live here where we don’t have to shovel a lot of that white stuff! And that is our everlovin’ point! The climates that y’all are used to have snow more often so y’all are well equipped to handle it. And, might I point out, that many of these places don’t have our beautiful Tennessee hills.

The fact of the matter is that we have no need for such equipment or preparation when Chattanooga clouds grunt real hard just to produce a smidgen of snowfall every other year or two.

It makes no sense to allow for a budget in handling a little ol’ snowstorm or icing when it only happens once a century. I am an adopted Chattanoogan and after learning this land's rituals and why they are necessary, I have come to know that when people cry snow, we have every reason to panic.

We are not equipped with the manpower and snowplows it takes to clear off all the streets. Some of our younguns who are drivin’ have never seen snow much less had practice to drive in it. Drivin’ in snow is a learned skill, but it also is not very smart for even the most skilled driver to drive on the ice covering our Tennessee hills without a rear-wheel drive or snow tires… and pray-tell, why do we NEED those?

Southerners have always been given the stigma of being ‘less educated’ when I believe the ignorance is of those who are narrow-minded and cannot see from another’s perspective.

When we have fair warning of treacherous driving conditions we are smart enough to stay indoors and keep our kiddos home from school and just sip on our hot cocoa. We understand what we lack to safely drive on our Tennessee hills, but during last week’s fiasco we were not given much time to prepare and take covah.

Surely even the Yankees (who were smart enough to come roost in our parts) saw the severity of the road conditions and the snow turning to ice. Surely y’all passed Geography and you could see the hills and valleys we have to get around.

We like our hills and valleys though. We have such wonderful beauty here and we know how to play on those hills and valleys! Whethah we go hiking or mountain biking or even on the occasion that we might see a little ol’ snowfall and we find the first thing we can to concoct our makeshift sleds of garbage can lids or cardboard.

A Southern's mentality far differs from that of the Yankee bragger who can handle knee-deep snow, shoveling and driving in it for months. You see, we are more relaxed in the South. We think a snow day is permission to take a day off to play with our younguns and take a break from the mundane everyday stress and we loosen our corsets and ties just a little.

We will slow down to smell the Sanka and we sit down by the fire and we might even make a s’more or two!  We know that in a few days it will be right nice again and we’ll be out and about soon enuff!

Please unduh-stand that I mean no disrespect, I have plenty of Yankee friends and I love them just the same. I will smooth out the ruffle in mah petticoat now and get off mah high horse. And… I unduh-stand that y’all didn’t mean those nasty things that was said about little ol’ us. Y’all didn’t know any bettah.

jen@jenjeffrey.com


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