Snow-crazy in Tidewater

Published 2:27 pm Friday, January 29, 2010

I hope you had to walk through snow this morning to pick up your copy of this paper.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand the slick roads that are the primary result of most Tidewater snowfalls are especially dangerous for those of us whose idea of hazardous winter driving is turning the car heater on high before the engine has had a chance to warm up.

As a Tidewater native, I also understand that the grocery store shelves will be devoid of fresh bread and milk by this afternoon, as those few people who didn’t mob the stores yesterday take to the slick roads to make sure they’ve got enough food at home so they won’t have to go out on the slick roads.

Email newsletter signup

Snow, as anyone who has lived in Tidewater for more than a few years can attest, makes us all a little crazy. And a bit nostalgic. I realized only recently just what an old geezer I sound like when I tell my grandkids about the Great Snow of 1980. (“What were the dinosaurs really like, Grandpa?”)

But I’ve recently discovered a whole new level of snow-crazy that makes Tidewater natives seem like transplanted Chicagoans by comparison.

During the past six months or so, as we’ve worked to “break in” our new editor, Tim Reeves and his wife, Nikki, the newspaper’s director of special products, I have been struck by how odd it must be to move halfway across the country, swapping the history, traditions and climate of one’s home for those of an entirely new place.

Lately, with a new reporter in the newsroom who hails from California — or, as my native-Californian wife calls it, “The Land of the Fruits and Nuts” — once again I find myself trying to educate a Tidewater transplant about life in this wonderful corner of the world.

As it turns out, sometimes my role is to be the killjoy, as when I had to tell our recent arrivals twice within the past few weeks that we’d have no significant snow, despite the meteorologists’ predictions. Tidewater’s weather patterns are hard enough to fathom without the added component of an emotional connection to the forecast.

This week, however, I surprised them when I agreed with the forecasters. I know that in doing so I was betraying my duty as a native of Tidewater to remain cynical about snow forecasts right up until the flakes start to fall. All I can say on my own behalf is that I got caught up in the moment as the new folks in town gathered around the newsroom comparing forecasts. I’ll tell you this: I actually heard squeals of delight as one person shouted, “I’ve never seen that much snow at one time before!”

Of course, I was immediately tempted to share the story of the Great Snow of ’80, but I exercised a rare moment of discretion and kept my story to myself. Let them have their snow-crazy moments, I thought.

I just hope they wound up with the snow they were so excited about.