Posts Tagged 'snow'

Snow Fear Factor

An inch of snow is forecast to fall on the Atlanta area today — maybe even as many as three — and schools aren’t taking any chances. Several of them have closed already, even before a flake has fallen.

Our babysitter for tomorrow night has already thrown our dinner plans into doubt. She told us that she didn’t think she could drive to our place because she’s concerned about how safe the highway will be.

Her worries are probably warranted. When it snowed heavily last month, the roads stayed icy until the temperatures rose — no road salting occurred.

But as a veteran of upstate New York winters, I’m blown away by the snow fear factor here in Atlanta. I have never witnessed classes get cancelled because of snow, when there isn’t actually any snow — just forecasts.

And those have been wrong before.

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Snow and Salt

A sheet of ice has been covering our front steps since last week. Thanks to years of living in New York and London, we became used to *other people* taking care of these problems.

We paid maintenance fees each year that often mystified us, because the bill was never clear about where exactly our money went. So during the rare times when it did snow, we were pleased to see our money at work.

But here in Atlanta, we just stepped gingerly over our frozen steps, and hoped the ice would melt eventually. It didn’t.

So, with a babysitter on her way, we decided it was time to make the steps safe, lest she fall and sue us. We went to Home Depot, and encountered the same friendly gentleman who helped us select a grill over the summer (how times — and temperatures! have changed).

He told us we wouldn’t find any salt, or grit, in Atlanta. He directed me to a prominent display (clearly, we were hardly the first customers to ask for melting agents over the frosty weekend) of DampRid, which appeared to be a product that eliminates damp from one’s closet. It would melt the snow and ice just like salt would, he assured me.

I was skeptical. But we were getting desperate, as the babysitter’s arrival time was almost upon us.

So we cut open the packs of moisture remover. It seemed a shame — they were individually packed in little bags attached to hangers. Clearly, we were using them for a purpose for which they were not intended. We scattered the granules over the steps. And we were pleased to note that the moisture remover had a similar texture to salt/grit.

And in a few hours, it worked! The ice melted. Not in time for the babysitter’s arrival, but luckily, she didn’t slip. Those Home Depot folks sure are enterprising…

Brrr

I have become a big sissy when it comes to the cold.

When other Atlantans talk about how bitter the temperatures here have been over the past week, I nod gravely, and exchange dramatic stories about the biting wind and the icy ground.

And it is cold here. This normally lively fountain on Peachtree appears to have frozen.

But then, these 30 degree days are balmy compared to most winter days in upstate New York, where I went to college. And here, most people tend to spend mere minutes outside, while they walk from their climate controlled houses to their cozy cars.

In New York, I would trudge through the rain, sleet and snow to the subway, then slide down icy steps to the train.

Here, I just spend five minutes defrosting the car. So really, I have no right to complain.

From what I gather, temperatures here are rarely this low. And I am out of practice with cold climates. While I was living there, London was generally pretty temperate. Now, of course, that seems like a distant memory. I really feel for Londoners; the roads and public transport system have been snarled by far less snow than what they’re seeing now.

But I wonder whether cold weather aficionados in Scandinavia and elsewhere think we’re all a bunch of whiners.

London Snowing

London looks pristine in the snow — for about ten minutes. Then, the parade of pedestrians and barrage of buses turn it into a sloppy grey mess.

So when Londoners wake up tomorrow, I imagine they’ll see a scene like the one I photographed here on High Street Kensington nearly three years ago. It will look wintry and charming, until a slippery walk through slush to the tube will scupper any cozy and pleasant sentiment towards the snow — especially when the traveler discovers that the tube line they want has been driven out of service by the sloppy weather, regardless of whether or not the snow has completely melted.

From a distance, though, when I read forecasts calling for “a heavy blanket of snow,” I get nostalgic for the undisturbed, pristine fluff. I didn’t see it often during my seven and a half years living there.

In fact, it feels as though more snow has fallen on London in the year since I left than the whole time I lived there. That makes it easy to romanticize what will be an epic and potentially dangerous commute for Londoners.

London On My Mind

I miss London.  Those photos of Big Ben and Houses of Parliament capped with snow made them look more lovely than they ever did while I was there.

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And I wish I had been there for the big snowball fights and group snowman building that happened in parks across London last Monday, according to my friends there. Because no one could get into work (trains, buses, most of the tube shut down), everyone took a snow day.  

That I miss less — the creaky infrastructure.  But really, that’s part of the charm.  I miss emerging from an epic tube ride from Notting Hill Gate to St Paul’s, and seeing a nearly 400 year old Cathedral looming over a square full of pigeons.  

Which were gross.  But the winding cobblestone streets and pubs with thatched roofs made you feel like you had landed in Victorian London, with Jack the Ripper waiting to pop out to slash you.

And then, you turn a corner and see one of three Starbucks that you pass when you walk five blocks in any direction from St. Paul’s.  

Now that’s an experience we can replicate here in Atlanta.  It may not have the history, but it has the coffee chains.