Friday, December 18, 2009

Pixie Dust

There is a mendacious rumor abroad that Southerners should be fixed. How can we help the backward agrarians get on the great progressive bandwagon, well-meaning philanthropic carpetbaggers might have asked. I remember reading a history textbook in my undergrad years that puzzled over the reasons why industrialization took so long to set in and improve the quality of life for the rural poor in the South. The answer to me is quite obvious: the rural poor didn’t want improvement.

Today I sat at my corner of my favorite coffee shop, and something magical happened: large chunks of white powder fell from the sky outside the window, initially mistaken for debris from the perpetual construction that plagues every university I have ever attended (that is only two, of course, but doesn’t the superlative make it sound dramatic?), but soon realized to be the 4-letter-word that has been on everyone’s lips like a whirlwind that cleared the grocery store shelves of milk, eggs, and bread ever since the meteorologists had hinted the possibility days earlier: SNOW.

The barista screamed and ran outside to perform her snow-dance. Every eye in the coffee shop was glued to the window. Adults on the street lifted their faces to the sky with open mouths like five-year-olds. Children, many of whom had been let out of school for the mere possibility of snow, gave the adults a run for their money on glee. Even the construction workers paused and extended their gloved hands. There was nary a smileless face anywhere in the city as the chunks of white powder functioned as pixie dust in an otherwise gloomy day.

And then it was gone.

Later I read a (northern) friend’s blog and heard his (delightfully true) take on the experience of trying to find milk and eggs at the grocery store. Despite the utter appropriateness of his caricature of Southern snow-panic, I felt like something magic had happened, and he had missed it. Yes, as my nephew had once reminded me, God did indeed make magic in the world. I saw some this morning.

And now, as the possibility of bonus winter medleys is on the forecast for tonight and my graduation tomorrow afternoon hangs in the precarious balance of Mother Nature’s finicky Southern temperament, I remember that even now in our high-paced, 21st-century culture, there still remains a Sabbath rest for God’s people. It comes rarely and unpredictability, an unplanned holiday that forces begrudging businessmen and ecstatic schoolchildren alike to rest at home despite the ever-driving forces of the stockmarket and academia, but it comes.

At least it comes to backward Southerners when there is a hint of any form of frozen precipitation. That is, it comes to them after they get back from their panicked trips to the grocery store for milk, eggs, and bread.


TwoSquareMeals said...

You should have seen your nephews and their Auntie Es enjoying the magic today, catching snowflaks on their tongues. It was such a perfect moment. Northerners are just calloused to it.

Christian H said...

As a resident of northern Alberta, I posted a response here:

Kathy said...

As a transplanted Northerner, I have to object: we do, too, appreciate the magic of snow.

We just get a little tired of the snow and slush come, say, late March, when you've been struggling through it for ages. It tends to dull the delight on the front end of the season, sometimes, when it's a four month committment.

Em the luddite said...

Fair enough, Kathy. I was mostly only critical of the criticism of southerners. Technically, though I rarely admit it, I am a transplanted Midwesterner, and I know that snow can lose its joy by March...