JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—First day of spring 2013
Top story on the TODAY show on Monday: late winter snowstorm in the Northeast.
Initial reaction: Concern for my son and daughter-in-law driving to work, grandchildren getting to school (if school is open) and my brother and his family flying out of Philly for a long-planned vacation.
Secondary reaction: Thank God I live in Florida.
A glance outside at my patio wall made me smile. My old snow shovel hangs there as a symbol of my new life, and never having to use that thing again. It’s no longer the ugly black tool I kept by my front door because I frequently needed it just to get off the porch. Now it’s painted pink and adorned with a fishnet and seashells. Never could I have pictured it being a work of art!
So what if the temperature drops into the 30s and 40s in winter in Northeast Florida. As long as I don’t have to shovel or scrape anything, I won’t complain.
My last winter in Pennsylvania—1996—had record snowstorms. One after the other, with total accumulations of more than three feet. This is my buried car, which I paid some kids to dig out:
When you work for a newspaper, you don’t have snow days. It doesn’t matter if every school, bank, office and store is closed and the governor orders everyone off the roadways, you have to go to work. Our first news meeting was around 5 a.m., so mine was always the first vehicle out of our subdivision, making fresh tracks through unplowed streets. Main roads resembled giant luge runs, piles of snow on both sides. My coworkers often kidded me for, yet again, leaving my can of de-icer, which I used to defrost the lock for entry, IN my car. One reporter nicknamed my purple full-length, down coat with a hood “the grape.”
In winter, I complained. A lot.
For as long as I can remember, I loved summer. Hot, oppressive, humid. Love it. And my friends know it. One sweltering July day an editor came back from lunch dripping with perspiration and barked at me: “Are you happy now?” Uh-huh.
Because of my aversion to cold, I often envisioned living in a warm climate after I retired. When an opportunity to move to Jacksonville came 16 years before my retirement, I grabbed it. Weather ranked high on the “go for it” list.
One exception: White Christmas
In Southcentral Pennsylvania, it normally doesn’t snow much before January. My holiday trips usually are dry. Last year, it started to snow late afternoon on Christmas Eve. A White Christmas! Yes, I admit, that was magical. Within minutes, my son’s back yard transformed into a winter wonderland as snowflakes covered the grass and pine tree branches. Out front, snow on the shrubbery glistening with lights was gorgeous. Christmas Spirit felt noticeably warmer. I grabbed my camera.
With my grandchildren soon after the snow started:
My brother’s home, as we arrived for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner:
The slippery ride back to my son’s home after dinner dimmed some of the magic for me. Surely the snow would be gone soon, this early in the year, I surmised. On this night, though, how perfect!
But the day after Christmas brought another snowstorm, an icy one that halted my plans of driving around to visit family and friends. It didn’t seem nearly as pretty as the Christmas Eve snow. A third storm was forecast for the weekend, when I had booked my return flight. Magic was gone.
So to avoid driving my rental car over the mountains around Frederick in snow, I left early, spent a night in a Baltimore motel and, sure enough, flew out of BWI the next morning in heavy snowfall. Not that I’ve ever been fond of driving on slick roads, I’m a super wimp now that I rarely have to do it. I took the picture of the TV screen above as a playful comeback to my son’s teasing about my fretting. I saved the text I received from him when I was safely at the airport: “Snowing here. We are OK but scared. It’s accumulated to at least two inches. Not sure if we’ll make it or not! Stay out of the sun when you get home!”
Nice to come home to: