Saturday, January 30, 2010
“Winter in Neely is a monotonous time of year and nothing much can really break the spell of the season except for a healthy snowfall, which tends to drive the good sense out of most people since very few of the natives have seen enough snow to have become indifferent to it. We are accustomed to sleet and to the sort of rain that freezes in treetops and downs powerlines, so even the rumor of flurries makes people’s eyes bright.
There is a tendency among Neelyites to panic in the face of poor weather, and the reaction to snow is no less frantic, just a little more lightheaded. Before the first few flakes have had time to settle in and melt, every school in the county closes down and any merchant who does not specifically deal in provisions, what are usually called groceries, has locked up his shop and gone home. When we children arrive from school, the mothers and housewives of Neely begin to expect the worst and busy themselves making shopping lists for such indispensable items as dishpowder and confectioner’s sugar and institutional-sized cans of ravioli, just the sorts of things no family can be snowbound without.
Sometime after midnight and before sunrise it is not at all uncommon for the clouds to blow off leaving the moon to break through and put a glow on things. Daddy says because the light is extraordinary and unnatural, it inflicts a kind of madness on some people while they sleep and they wake up in the morning wanting to drive their cars. Daddy says he cannot explain it otherwise since there’s no reason at all for a townful of people with absolutely nowhere to go to wheel their Buicks and Pontiacs and oversized Fords out into the streets of Neely where they pass the day veering off into ditches or phone poles or just running up onto the fenders of people going nowhere in the opposite direction…. Daddy holds with the notion that there’s nothing for a sane man to do on the day after a snowfall but plant himself on the northeast corner of his cellar and hope for the best. He’s always said that if Washington had kept company with Southerners at Valley Forge the whole group of them could have passed the winter making snow angels and igloos and generally having a high time of it.”
–from A Short History of a Small Place, a novel by T. R. Pearson