Winter Wonderland or Woeful Weather?

Shreveport, Louisiana, 1984.

By Kathy Knotts, Managing Editor

I have, what I have learned, is an unpopular opinion. At least it’s an opinion not terribly popular in Chesapeake Country.

I love snow.

When a forecast shows that icon of little snowflakes under a cloud, I admit to getting a little excited. Yes, I know it causes great headache and panic. I realize that everyone will buy up all the staples at the grocery store. But I don’t mind. Snow is amazing.

I think it’s because I grew up in Louisiana and snow was something so magical and mysterious because it rarely happened. Christmas was often spent in shorts and t-shirts. No one I knew owned a sled or a pair of skis. But when those fluffy frozen flakes did fall—we would spend hours outside willingly.

The average snowfall in Louisiana is about 0.2 inches—on par with Florida and Hawaii. Of course a lot of what we called “snow” was really just ice and sleet, but there were a few moderate snowfalls that I remember well.

One winter I distinctly recall being allowed to “stay up late” because the snow made it seem like daylight outside. So I walked down to my nearest friend’s house and we begged her father to take us sledding on sheet pans. It wasn’t “real” sledding, but we didn’t care. It meant no school and hours of free time to play in the neighborhood because no one in their right mind would be out driving in it. (Not the case here in Maryland. I am constantly amazed at how many people are willing to drive in a snowstorm. Stay home and enjoy a hot beverage instead, I say.)

The most memorable was the winter of 1983-84. It is a fuzzy memory at best, but it is engrained in my mind thanks to a ridiculous number of photographs in my mother’s albums of me and my younger sister in fat puffy coats and mittens. Probably the only time they were worn that year.

It was the year that the Red River froze. And it made time stand still. I had never witnessed such an extraordinary feat of nature in my young life. The mighty river that separated us from the next town over was always in motion. But for a few days that year it was still and quiet.

I just love the silence of snow. Science tells me that sound waves don’t travel well through snow, at least the light and fluffy kind. Wet and heavy snow doesn’t absorb sound quite as well. Research has found that a few inches of snow absorbs about 60 percent of the sound around it. I certainly appreciate that benefit.

Snow also changes my perspective. The way it covers everything—my yard goes from being unsightly to perfect in a matter of hours and an inch or four of wintry precipitation. It amounts to a mood makeover for me. So I am sad to see it melt away, leaving behind its ugly cousin, black ice, taunting my every step down the front stairs of my house.

Love it or loathe it, it’s full-on winter now. This week we bring you some ideas on how best to enjoy it, outdoors or in. Let me know what you think. Email [email protected].