Rhonda Hayes

Rhonda Hayes is a garden writer, photographer and blogger. She also volunteers as a Hennepin County Master Gardener. Rhonda chronicles her gardening adventures and advice at her award-winning blog, The Garden Buzz. She is a frequent contributor to Northern Gardener magazine and the Star Tribune Home + Garden section. At Your Voices, she writes about life around the city lakes, occasionally veering off the garden path with essays on the silly and serious issues of the day.

Snow: Southern Style

Posted by: Rhonda Hayes Updated: January 30, 2014 - 12:41 PM

Seems there’s no escaping winter even as I wait it out far, far away from Minneapolis.

If it weren’t for the potential of snow-related deaths you’d get a kick out of this winter storm prep, southern-style. You’d a thought a eight-day blizzard was heading this way.

Here in Savannah as weather reports refined the chances of winter precip, bread and bottled water quickly disappeared from grocery shelves and there were reports of brisk business at the liquor stores. Don’t want to be caught lacking the essentials after all.

With schools and businesses wisely shut, the historic district felt like an abandoned movie set as I wandered the lonely streets. Ice accumulated on camellias and ironwork in the squares. Beads of ice upholstered the empty benches and Spanish moss sagged under its frozen weight.

By now you’ve seen all the pictures of Atlanta. It was just a couple inches…

(For a more humorous firsthand account of one dicey commute, check out my daughter’s story at esquire.com, “Birmingham is Broken”.)

But before all of you up north get on your snow-handling high horses, realize that the south doesn’t see this kind of weather that often. Just as many communities in snow-prone areas are hard-pressed to handle repeated winter catastrophes, lots of southern cities have bigger spending priorities than snowplows for those once in a blue moon snow falls.

And that’s what it’s all about.

Sure there are idiots everywhere that won’t drive safely no matter their zip code. And there are others who have never gotten the chance to learn safe winter driving.

But for instance, what do you do with metal-grate drawbridges connecting countless islands on the coast? You can’t sand or salt them. Add that to numerous other south-specific issues that come up when faced with surprise snow.

Sure we sail along with life up north unless it gets really, really bad. Yet take away the plows, the sand, the salt, and the four-wheel drives and see how we’d do.

There were countless incidences of kindness and southern hospitality. Strangers used Facebook to crowdsourc accommodations along slippery highways and restaurants cooked up food and delivered it in wagons, sliding over black ice and around abandoned cars.

While Atlanta thaws out, in Savannah the ice is starting to drip off the palms. And we are headed into the 70's. Stay warm and safe. And thank a snowplow.

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