I was just thinking to myself … dang, it’s still January. Is it just me or do November and December seem to fly past and after New Year’s Day, January just creeps along. Maybe it is just anti-climatic or something … after all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, maybe we just hunker down.
Well, the doldrums can get some help. I got knocked off my feet by this awful flu that is spreading around, then we were snow-bound for several days. My darling bride got the flu right after me (funny how that works, right?) and spent those snow days off her feet as well. And here, now, we’ve got another week of January left.
Most of you know I’m from Houston Texas. Suffice it to say, I didn’t grow up with snow. I found an old family picture a while back of a dog standing in the snow in front of my great-grandfather’s house. It wasn’t dated but other similar pictures were from the roaring twenties. I found a site that listed significant snowfalls in Houston. It wasn’t a very long list. I figured it was either December 1925 or January 1926. One of those unusual years where it snowed twice in a short time.
The point is, I never personally saw snow until 1960. Yeah, that one was on the list too … right before Valentine’s day. It was quite an event. I didn’t see snow again until 1973. It snowed an unprecedented three times that year.
I’ve lived in NC since the late 1980’s … it snows more here, but not that much more. We’re lucky to get a good snow every year or so. The snowfall last week was unusual … close to a foot. That is a lot of snow for this area. I know you northerners and mid-westerners scoff at that but understand this: we have minimal snow removal. Houston and Austin have almost none. When it snows, those places virtually shut down. We’re not much better, but we have maybe 10% more snow removal. They actually do a pretty good job on what are considered main roads. The problem is … 98% of the people don’t live on the main roads. Side streets and side streets of those side streets become icy wastelands. I lived for a couple of years just two hours north of here, in Virginia. They get even more snow and you get spoiled by all the extra snow removal they have there.
I actually do pretty well driving on ice and snow, but I dislike testing my skills. I don’t worry so much about going out of control myself, I worry about other drivers losing control and hitting me. Several times in my life, even when I lived in Texas, I’ve been in situations where I simply had to drive fairly long distances on snowy or icy roads. It is a white knuckle experience that is taxing physically and mentally. I even included a scene in my novel, THE FEVER, where the protagonist is dealing with exactly that situation. In that scene, the heat in the car was not working so it was further complicated by episodes of his windshield being covered in a sheet of ice every time a big truck passed him. Yeah, been there done that. Write what you know, right? Seriously, one reader even told me she had to get up and put on a sweater while she was reading that section.
Anyway I’ll take snow over ice any day. Our last ice storm knocked out our power for five days and dropped about ten pickup truck loads of branches and trees on our property. But that was in March and we were talking about January, right?
How did TS Eliot put it … April is the cruelest month?
Maybe. But January is probably the longest month.
Thomas Fenske is a writer living in North Carolina.