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25th of September, 2017

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Snowing in Canton

Hurricane Kyrill is blasting across Germany at the moment, leveling trees and flinging stucco about. Man, you’d think Gabriel was tooting his horn outside, the way the locals are reacting. Mind you, Kyrill’s not really a hurricane, but rather a winter gale. That would be the way LEO translates the german word Orkan; well, that and hurricane. But a hurricane is necessarily in the Caribbean, moving west. Technically, anyway.

But I’m not here to split hairs, I’m here to talk about battering winds, upwards of 200 kilometers per hour. Not sure how fast that is in real measurement, but I can confirm it’s a-howling through the alleyways outside. You can actually hear it whistling through the cathedral belltower, a good half-mile away. It’s sort of a low hoot. The roof tiles they have over here are bound to start flying around at some point, injuring passers-by unlucky enough to be out in it, à la Ben Hur. I’ve still got to get home from this bar I’m sitting in right now, but I’m close enough that it would be a lucky shot, indeed.

They’ve stopped all trains in the entire country, even the streetcars, and the kids are staying home from school tomorrow. As are many businessmen, their firms more concerned about their safety than the four-hour workday most people put in on Friday over here. All in all, it’s a pleasant diversion for everyone, an act of God that brings a bit of excitement to the daily routine. I’m just glad the bars are open, otherwise this entry would have been about four lines long.

It’s sort of like it used to be in Atlanta before the Yankees came, when we got a few flakes of snow on the ground. Once the slightest flake fought its way through the climatical defenses enough to land and shout, triumphantly, Allahu Akhbar! Quake with fear before me! before becoming a small puff of vapor, well, that’s when the fabric of Atlanta society would start coming apart at the seams. The groceries stores were run upon, with milk and bread being carried by the truckload to the homes of weather-maddened Southerners. The schools were locked down tight; lest the inexperienced, though well-meaning bus drivers tumble off a cliff, out of control on ice-slick roads with a full load of schoolchildren. We didn’t like snow, not even the rumor of it.

Growing up in Cherokee County, we had a rather enviable relationship with snow. It’s a large county, with a hilly bit up north, in the Canton area. But the rest of the county sits around Lake Allatoona, and is predominately mild in its winters. School closings, however, are granular only to the county level, which meant that whenever some meth-addled bus driver in Ball Ground happened to notice a patch of frost on the grass on her way out of the trailer park, the school board would immediately be notified, and all educational activities throughout the county brought to a halt. Sometimes, some farmer’s pond was frozen over in a forgotten corner somewhere; the very presence of ice somewhere induced enough unease among the elected county officials that they just played it safe and let the kids have the rest of the week off.

During the Winter of ‘87, we actually had 16 days off in a row for snow. Down in our end of the county, we did indeed see snow the first day. I remember it well: We were sitting in home room, the first class of the day, when the first flakes began to fall, the shimmering little harbingers of freedom. In panicked tones, the principal came on the PA and announced that we should all get on the buses, or hop in our cars, and get the Hell home, not forgetting of course to stop on the way for whatever bread or milk might still be available in the local grocery store, every man for himself! I could just see him in his office: laying down the intercom microphone and strapping himself to his chair, cradling his service .45, a captain going down with the ship.

Predictably, once we were all home the snow stopped. In fact, it was 65 degrees by midday, and we were playing football in the yard with 8 men per team. It was a pleasant diversion for a Tuesday afternoon, but we were resigned to getting back to the grind bright and early the next morning. But there was no school the next day. Nor the day after that. In fact, for the next two weeks, despite spring-like temperatures and sunny skies, we were out of school on account of snow. Every day the disruption continued, the fun factor was reduced by half, until finally we were all wondering whether they had forgotten to tell everybody to go back. But no, there was Guy Sharpe every morning, announcing the one and only school closing in the state of Georgia: Cherokee County. For two solid weeks. I always wondered what people in other counties thought of that. At one point, the guy shows them a map of Georgia with little suns all over it and 60+ degree temperatures, then announces that our hillbilly asses still won’t come out from under our rocks.

They cancelled our Spring Break that year because of that. Bastards. I didn’t think much about it then, being a latchkey kid, but I can imagine that a lot of parents had actually planned their precious two-week vacations to coincide with Spring Break. But then, Cherokee County was a different crowd back then. I mean, to have vacations implies that you, you know, have a job.

But it became clearer to me in my last two years of High School how something like that could happen. It was easy to start rumors about snow sightings in Canton. Even mentioning an ice storm in Birmingham would have the teachers looking nervous. Do that in home room, and by lunch it would be all over school. Somebody would come up to you and tell you that the county seat was under a six-foot sheet of glacial ice, and that school would be cancelled forever, what with the coming ice age and all. It’s a miracle that the public school system functions at all.

Weather is always what the Germans call a gaudi, a good time.


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Comments

Michele

I saw the weather you are having on the news; looks sorta nasty. Growing up in the south I can relate to your story. We never had any snow days in southern Louisiana, all of our were used for hurricane days. Never failed, the first week of Sept we would get at least 3 or 4 days out. I always thought it was neat (back then) but now realize it wasn't much fun for the adults who had to pack up and evacuate.

Yabu

I know what wind can do. Been through several here in NC.

Bad Bad Juju for sure, but very cool at the same time.

Libby

I lived in Atlanta when they had a snowstorm once. I was amazed at the panic level over a few flakes of snow but darn if the cars weren't going off the road in it.

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