Today, as the South gets ready for Winter Storm Leon and the Raleigh area cancellations start rolling in (prediction for my area: 2 to 4 inches), I ask: When did they start naming winter storms, and what on earth for? Are they trying to scare us? Do they want to cause a run on milk in the supermarket?
Sure, we are wimpy about snow in the South. We cancel school for a week when we get two inches. But denizens of colder climates have nothing to snicker about. I know all about Winter Storm Janus.
Ron and I were in New York last week when Janus, which dropped about 12 inches of snow, breezed through, and I can assure you that we saw plenty of Southern-style panic. Yes, a foot of snow is a lot, but come on. It's not the End of Days. From what I observed, though, many people - even tough Northerners - now think it is.
Maybe my memory is deceiving me, but I could swear we were all tougher before snowstorms had names and blizzards were dumbed down. I blame a spate of mild winters, decades of slip-and-fall lawsuits, and lives increasingly lived in technology Never Never Land for our new-found wimpiness. A few measly snowflakes, and officials warn us to hunker down and not venture out unless we absolutely have to. Airlines cancel every flight from here to eternity, and the federal government tells all non-essential workers to stay home. If they wrote PANIC in skywriting, they couldn't be more clear. No wonder people are freaking out.
I say all this not as tough ex-New Yorker who is afraid of nothing. On the contrary, I am the biggest chicken there is. I am unabashedly pro caution, especially when it comes to personal safety. I don't like driving at night. I don't like driving in rain or snow. I don't like flying in any weather. But it's gotten so that I just roll my eyes when I hear dire weather forecasts, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
Unfortunately, one of these days the forecast is bound to be right. And when it is, all of us cynics, having rolled our eyes one time too many, will be in deep trouble: no milk, no snow shovel, and not a bag of sand in sight.
Today my blog received an email with the subject line, "Where are you?" The message was as follows:
Some of us regular readers are wondering when you will next post. I know it's winter and all, but even so.
Lest you think me wildly popular, I feel it only fair to inform you that the self-described fan is my sister. Still, if your own family won't read your blog, who will? And as this particular sister (I have four) is quite the literary critic, I am flattered that she asked. Here is what I answered: I have nothing to say.
Now in real life, having nothing to say does not prevent me from talking. But in blog-land, I worry that I will wear out my welcome. Therefore, I try to take as my role model the eminent Mr. Ed, the talking horse of 1960s sitcom fame. Mr. Ed, we are told in the catchy theme song, will never speak unless he has something to say.
So yes, I could talk about last week's Polar Vortex, when it hit 9 degrees for two nights in a row. I could mention how I tried to cover my now rather sizable Edgeworthia so that its buds didn't freeze off a mere weeks before they were scheduled to bloom. How I couldn't find anything big enough or thick enough to cover it, so basically told it you're on your own and good luck to you. How the buds, to my great surprise, survived the Arctic blast and, if my luck holds out, should begin opening in mid-February.
Or I could talk about how I was going to spend this winter on the long-overdue task of creating nicely defined garden beds in my back yard. How I planned to purchase a real-life edger and even put down some stone as a border. How I haven't done anything of the kind. How instead of scouring garden catalogs, shopping for edgers, or researching effective mole deterrents, I have been spending my leisure time reading 800-page Dickens novels and watching what Ron likes to call "Mumbles in Costume" - BBC adaptations of my favorite classics of British literature.
But since I have four sisters and two brothers, I am acutely aware of my place in the universe (hint: it's not at the center). Honestly, the minimal goings-on in my dreary winter garden are pretty darn boring, and the less said about them the better. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, "Better to be silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." I would do well to follow his advice.
The Galloping Horse Gardener is a native New Yorker who packed it in in 2005 to live under the radar in Cary, North Carolina. In 2014, she removed to a new secure location somewhere in Raleigh.
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