Monday, January 10, 2011

Closed due to snow: still on the grid

(Athens, GA, January 10 2011)

Here in the south people don't take to snow particularly well. That's why we live where we do, even northern transplants like myself (I've lived in Georgia since 1976). When the friends from Oxford Mississippi report a foot of snow and ice in Faulkner country, that's real weather news.

Outside the metro areas of Atlanta, five-to-eight inches of snow topped with ice is reason enough for days of Atlanta TV-station instilled panic (with advertising breaks) and laying in supplies of milk and bread and beer. When the power goes out eventually due to the weight of accumulated ice on the power lines, apparently southerners like to be intoxicated and well-fed for a long, long spell under the covers. And that's just the first day.

And what about day two, when reality sets in?
On the second day the snow is dirtier and crusted with ice in mushy frozen tire tracks from day one underfoot and there still will be no electricity for many. The intrepid will fire up the 4WD and slide to the store for more beer hoping there's enough gas in the tank to get them back home safely to get smashed again in the gathering dark.

In cold and snowy reality, the southern folk who like to picture themselves as hardy and self-sufficient Dan'l Boones prepare and prepare for the eventuality .... of no electric power.

Without power, snowstorms (to differentiate, this one is being dubbed "snowpocalypse") soon become a marathon of prepackaged food without microwaves or electric stoves, and families contemplate hours of each others' company wrapped in blankets or camo jackets around heaters that fill the house with propane fumes. Fireplaces are lovely architectural details in southern homes these days, pretty to look at but ... many of them are messy and smoky beasts in real need. Most are too small a size for any wood one might actually be able to drag in from outside.

Most southern fireplaces I have seen are merely repositories of poinsettias in winter. They are but a memory-commodity of a past when people actually lived "off the grid" many hardy individuals here romantically think they can live off of these days, too. Life in the south without electricity in the winter is even more crippling than a day without air-conditioning in the summer. City or country, house or apartment, life simply grinds to a halt in candle-lit dark until the power company can flip the big switch. And it's ... cold.

Until the lights go out in Georgia, I'm sucking on the power grid with no pretense of hardihood or self-sufficiency except the ability to read a book until the light fails, and tuna-fish sandwiches to sustain me. After that, there's a leftover long winter's nap from the holiday season around here somewhere. There's beer in the fridge for later. I think I'll put
"A Charlie Brown Christmas" back on the box for a spin and enjoy warm thoughts until the power goes out.


The above fore-mentioned. said...

You've got snow and we've got floods. Toowoomba where I lived for the last five years has just had awful flash floods and now even Brisbane has flood warnings, due to the dam being over 140% full and 100ml of rain a day. It doesn't ever snow here, but we have had a drought for over seven years, now we have had more rain then most around here have seen in 30 years. It's a wild world.

M Bromberg said...

I've been seeing the flood reports there and the amounts of rainfall have been truly astounding. I hope there is some easing soon for everyone. Georgia has been in a drought for five years at least -- the lakes were especially hard hit -- and the snow runoff will now make make for flood havoc in the spring. It's almost impossible to forecast any seasonal activity.