Let it snow somewhere

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 12, 2002

It's clear and cold in Knoxville. Puffy gray clouds have come and gone for two days now, but still we have no snow. You in Greenville got snow, Charleston, S.C. got snow, but these good old mountains are bare of leaf and of the white stuff.

I don't know what it is about snow that makes us all wait so impatiently for it. I guess children like the break from school. Many like me find great beauty in the stillness of the air and softness of the landscape after a snow blanket has been spread around. And I'm sure some people impatiently anticipate honing their snowball skills. What a wonderful way to pop someone in the head with a hurtling ball and not get arrested for assault! Enemies beware.

Having snow is oftentimes difficult. We must cope with slick roads, frozen pipes, broken power lines, falling trees, wet shoes and drippy noses. Yet it is hard to find a truly grouchy person in the snow. We are for a while jollier, more patient and less concerned with normal everyday proprieties. Go figure.

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I remember as a child the adventuresome attitude of our household as we heated Hormel Chile over the floor vent of our coal-burning furnace. The electricity had been out for days, but we were fortunate enough to be warm. My Daddy had to shovel lots of coal into the old monster, but that furnace did a marvelous job. It was just another snowstorm in Knoxville. No big deal.

When my children were growing up, they saw a few good snowstorms. We had one in Savannah, GA in the 70's that showed us how strange palm trees look when covered with snow. That was by far the least messy of any snowfall I've seen. When the meltdown came, the sandy soil sucked up the water leaving virtually no slush. It was amazing to someone from the lands of Georgia clay and black Tennessee Valley soil.

In the 80's a serious storm hit Atlanta. Snow flew ahead of strong winds and claps of thunder. Temperatures plummeted and the city was paralyzed. After the initial two days of snowfall, the storm moved east. But then in a surprise move, the front reversed itself and hit again with greater vengence. Gas pressure dropped too low to heat the schools, and students had what turned into a two week vacation. But we managed to stay warm and dry. We had the pleasures of hot cocoa, cream of wheat, potato soup and all the other snow day foods from my childhood. And of course, we had the ultimate treatsnow cream.

My children learned the methods used in collecting clean snow for the recipe. Never collect snow until after it has fallen for over an hour to clear the impurities floating around in the air. Then it's best to find a surface above animal heightpicnic tables are good. Scrape away a thin layer from the surface, scoop the pure, fresh snow into a very large bowl and run inside with it as quickly as possible. When the snow is mixed with milk, vanilla and sugar, it makes one of the most special of treats. It is light and delicate, too delicate in fact to even hold a drizzle of Hershey's syrup. In the north I hear they use maple syrup as the sweetener. Seems like sacrilege to me. Only pure cane sugar will do. And plan to eat all the cream you make. I've tried saving it in the freezer, but found the end result to be strongly reminiscent of sherbet pulled from the recesses of a grocery store freezer case two years past the product "use by" date.

So I'm still waiting. I'm ready for my snow pleasures. Little did I think that you lucky people in Greenville would get snow at all, and certainly not before Knoxville did. When I moved here in July, I already had visions of that frosty night when I would hear the whisper of flakes hitting the window panes and would look out to see snow swirling down from clouds almost close enough to touch. But wait I must. I could go to Gatlinburg and see manmade snow, but that's just not right. I'm not a skier so cannot fully appreciate the attraction of a slope of snow surrounded by bare ground. I'm too much a purist for such nonsense. But I'm sure my patience will be rewarded. In the meantime, all you folks in Greenville get your film developed and enjoy the reminders of your snow day. And if perchance you get another blast of the white stuff, will someone be sure that my grandson, Buddy, gets some snow cream. I'm sure his mother will take care of it, but just in casetell him Nanny sent you by.