I mentioned before that Creative Construction had a weekly contest. This week the theme was "Snow." This was my submission for this week as far as prose goes.
When It Snowed In Florida
I’ve lived in Florida my entire life – all thirty years. We’ve visited other states from time to time, and found ourselves with near misses of views of snow. It melted the day before we arrived, or fell the day after we left. But never any exciting views of snowdrifts as high as our heads, or windows being blocked by snow piled high in front of them. No shoveling sidewalks or watching the machines ice the roads so traffic could proceed. Nope, none of that in Florida.
Instead, we have rain. When it’s cold and it rains, we have sleet. When it’s freezing (it really does) and it rains, we have hail. Except one year….
It started on a winter night in 1989, while we were in Valdosta, Georgia, a mere thirty minutes from our house in Jennings, Florida. We often shopped in Valdosta, and this was one of those evenings. My dad, my sister, and I were sitting in the car, waiting on my mother to come out of the store. As we waited, it began to rain. Gradually it turned to sleet. Restless as children are often prone to be, my sister and I begged our father to let us out of the car. After a while, I suppose he got tired of hearing us whine, and relented. We played in the parking lot for a while, and dad sat in the car. Suddenly, he rolled the window down and started pointing. Without us even realizing it, the bits of sleet had turned into tiny, icy snowflakes. Certainly not the fat, fluffy ones like you see in the movies, but snowflakes, none the less. We tried to catch them and they melted the moment we touched them, so great was the difference between our body temperature and the iciness of the snowflakes.
Finally, mom came out of the store. We all piled back into the car and, on the trip home, watched with growing excitement as the snowflakes continued to fall. Weather reports predicted the snow would fall intermittently throughout the night, and temperatures would remain below freezing throughout the next day. When we got home, there was a slight dusting of snow on the ground. Dad went and turned the sprinkler on and set it to run over the swing set, so we would have our own personal winter wonderland. We were rushed into the house by Mom, who watched us gaze in wonder as each of our footsteps dissolved the snow beneath our feet.
The next morning was lovely. A mere four inches of snow might not seem like much in most places, but in Florida, it is enough to constitute a thing of beauty. We awoke to a literal snowfall. Of course, everyone was excited. We decided to make an adventure of what could possibly be a once in a lifetime opportunity.
My dad had a huge four wheel drive truck – a 1986 Dodge Ram. The most fabulous blue color one had ever seen. He bought it brand new at the Dodge dealership in Valdosta, and was always happy to display the prowess of his truck. We often took it mud bogging in the nearby swampy areas year round, and in the summer, when the Alapaha River went dry, we took it riding in the slippery river sand.
As we drove from our house to my grandmother’s house, there were cars stuck on the roads and in the ditches. The ice on the roads was simply too much for them – it was too slick, and the Florida drivers had no idea how to handle it. Dad pulled them out, using his four wheel drive.
My uncle had the great idea that we could ski on the roads, since they were covered in ice. Of course, no one had any skis, but with warm water practically year round, we had plenty of equipment for water sports. The two items chosen were a large yellow inner tube and a hydro-slide – a board similar to a surfboard, but instead of depending on the waves to move you, the rider sits on the board and holds a handle attached to a rope, and is pulled by a boat in the water. My father pulled each of us down the highway on the inner tube and the hydro-slide, treating the icy roads much like the warm rivers we were used to.
My aunt, shown here, was a major sun worshipper back then. She loved the beach, craved any amount of time she could spend at the beach, the river, a lake, any piece of sun that she could subject her body to. Her desperation was evident in the playful way she posed that beautiful white day. She wore a tank top and a towel, lying on the hood of her snow covered Camaro, with the words “Beach or Bust” written on the windshield.
Several of us kids walked down the dirt road to a nearby creek. It was iced over, but still flowing beneath the thin layer of ice. Being a rural area of the state, the creek ran under a wooden bridge with a small guard rail which consisted of a 1x6 board placed on blocks. We built our first snowman with snow gathered from the bridge and the guardrail. He ended up being about six inches high and rather sloppily made, because there wasn’t much snow and it didn’t want to stick together very well. Unfortunately, that was also the last snowman that I’ve ever built up to this point.
Although on occasion, there have been reports of snow flurries throughout the years, none of them have touched our area the way the snow did in 1989. None have transformed the sunshine state into an honest to goodness winter wonderland. Living in Florida certainly has its benefits – large amounts of warmth being one of them – but it also has its moments of magic, of memories that can never be recreated, simply because of the location. It’s doubtful that I will ever have another delightful winter day like that one, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t wish for it now and again.
My second submission was actually a photograph taken by my husband when he was out in New Mexico. He used his camera phone to show me what a real snowman looked like.
You can see my entries as well as many other fantastic entries over here.