17 January 2008

Winter Wonderland

What a treat it was to wake up to almost a full half-inch of snow this morning! We of course had heard all about the impending "Winter Storm" all day on the radio and TV yesterday . . "Atlanta is getting snow right now, stay tuned to hear about school closings blah blah blah blah . . " I know nobody wants to hear the worn out old "When I was a kid" line on a day when they're stuck in the house with no place to take their school age kids . . but seriously, cancelling school for this? These My Little Ponies don't mind hanging out in the snow, so why can't the school kids suck it up and drag their butts to class? Teenagers, that's why. The school system sent home a letter yesterday trying to head off all of the typical snow-day questions posed by understandably annoyed parents who now have to figure out what to do with the kids while they go to work. The letter said that their "biggest concern was the high-school students who drive themselves to school and the possibility of a weather-related accident" and the subsequent lawsuits they'd surely face if they forced kids to come to school in such treachery. Let me tell you, as someone who vividly remembers the attitude I had as a teen driver, that's probably the only valid argument I've ever heard for why everything shuts down for a half inch of snow in the South.

A good example of why this reasoning works for me is a family trip we took one winter from our home in Dallas to the Queen Wilhelmina State Park in the Ouachita Mountain range in Arkansas. We piled in to my Honda Civic with summer tires and bad windshield wipers and drove to the top of this mountain through blinding snow and ice. When we got there it was so cold that all the resort's outdoor activities had been cancelled. So Jaime's boyfriend (separate story all together) and I decided to make our own activities in the parking lot. We fired up the car and went out to the mostly empty parking lot and proceeded to speed down the hill and yank the emergency brake handle up as we cranked the wheel, sending the 1900-pound car into uncontrollable spins. If memory serves, we had the windows open, the heat on full blast, and Metallica's Nothing Else Matters cranked to 11 on the radio. It never once crossed our minds that we should approach the icy roads with anything short of reckless abandon. So yeah, I think it's OK to cancel school today for freezing rain and snow.

Changing gears a little bit, this winter storm has proven to be great for our backyard bird activity. I expected a busy morning at the feeders and filled them all up last night after dinner. When it started getting light outside I noticed the tray feeder had filled up with snow, so I braved the freezing rain and went down to clear it out. I spread some millet on the ground below the tree and on the patio, hoping to bring some of the action closer to the house. Then I took a tip I'd read in a gardening book and put some stale bread pieces in an extra suet feeder as an additional offering for any new visitors the snow might flush out of the woods. Well it has all paid huge dividends, as Avery and I have been glued to the binoculars for at least an hour now. We got more than our usual compliment of Goldfinches and Mourning Doves, and the Cardinals that have now become daily visitors have brought friends. For the first time we had two females at the same time, where until today I'd only seen one. The wayward Yellow-rumped Warbler has been back this morning as well, dining on the suet and some of the millet on the ground. We were also visited by a White-throated Sparrow and my latest addition to the Big Year list, a Dark-Eyed Junco. Including the Eastern Towhee I spotted at the Nature Trail yesterday, that brings my total so far to almost 40. We're gonna skip the gym this morning and just hang out by the windows waiting to see if the nasty weather brings us any more backyard surprises. I might also spend a little time working on the recipe list, taking some of your suggestions to heart and getting them organized and rated for difficulty. Enjoy your day, we certainly will be enjoying ours!


Carolyn said...

I loved that trip to Queen Whilamena (sp?) Lodge in the red Civic...great memories and bad hair...ahhh the good ol' days

Anonymous said...

You are right on target with the vacation memories. It was the only time I felt comfortable letting you drive in the ice/snow!!! Every time I remember Jeffrey I hear "punch it!"

Anonymous said...

hi there,
i read your "unexpected visitor" and felt compelled to leave a comment! i googled "stay-at-home dad" and got your blog on the second page. my husband is a new SAHD and i am trying to research support options for him. as i'm sure you're aware, there doesn't seem to be much. anyway, i'll give him your blog address, and i'm sure he'll get a kick out of reading it. coincidentally, we're from the south too - alabama. although, currently, we're living in DC with my job. i heard about the snow ya'll got. my little nieces and nephew back home are so excited! anyway, good work on the blog and the kiddos. :)