There are belly laughs coming from up north

January 30, 2014 

Northerners are laughing at us.

Trust me, the residents of the snow belt from the Great Plains to the Northeast are laughing their frostbitten derrieres off at the agony inflicted on the South by the Great Two-Day Blizzard of ’14. The residents of Bismarck to Bangor, Sioux City to Syracuse, Wichita to Worcester who have been coping for months with a never-ending barrage of foot after foot of snow are laughing until their faces crack and the icicles fall from their eyebrows over the fact that the Southern states have been paralyzed by snow – a whole two inches of it!

Some Southerners might be chastened by their laughter. I welcome it.

We don’t know how to cope with snow down here? Well, so what?

Becoming adept at driving, walking, skidding around and falling in the snow, not to mention keeping our water pipes from freezing, would require a lot more frigid weather every winter. I’m tickled pink that the high here by the end of the week is predicted to be close to 60 degrees.

Some might find it dismaying and sad that the South can’t handle a two-inch snowfall, what Northerners might call a light dusting of snow. As someone who grew up in the snowy North, I find the South’s ineptitude endearing.

The two inches of snow prompted the governors of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina to declare a state of emergency. And, as it turned out, that was a smart call.

Atlanta may have provided the most pitiful example of an entire metropolis stuck in the snow, the epicenter of wintry incompetence. Tens of thousands of drivers were brought to a standstill on the highways, some abandoning their cars to walk miles to their homes. More than 1,000 traffic accidents occurred in and around Atlanta, and thousands of students spent Tuesday night at their schools because buses couldn’t get them home.

Traffic remained snarled 18 hours after the snowfall. One observer described the scene of jack-knifed trucks and cars mired in snowdrifts on the side of the road as resembling a “post-apocalyptic world.” (Cue more belly laughs from up north.)

OK, so we in the South don’t handle snow like Eskimos or Vikings. We are both entranced and daunted by the merest hint of snow. We know that even a minor snowfall will induce paralysis, but we can’t resist fantasizing about sledding, building snowmen, making snow angels and sipping cocoa by the fire while the flakes drift down outside.

Who cares if the power goes off, the car won’t start and the pipes freeze? It’s worth it!

The Northerners aren’t laughing anymore. Now, they’re serious. Now they’re bellowing about what you have to do to properly prepare for winter, about the importance of getting out the snow chains, keeping the walks shoveled, wearing layers, salting the roads, storing blankets in the car in case you get stuck, insulating your pipes and the stupidity of trying to heat your house with a charcoal grill.

“Yeah, you betcha, that’s really stupid!”

But we should take heart from this lambasting. We don’t know about all that stuff because we don’t have to.

Sure, we’re stopped dead in our tracks by two inches of snow. But, hey, it’s gone in a day. You Northerners are stuck with your snow until April.

We also must comfort ourselves with the fact that these selfsame condescending Northerners consider three 80-degree days in a row to be a heat wave. We could tell them how important it is to stay out of the sun, sit on a screened porch with a ceiling fan and sip iced tea when it gets too hot out.

But we really shouldn’t lecture them. That would be bad manners.

James Werrell, Herald opinion page editor, can be reached at 329-4081 or, by email, at jwerrell@heraldonline.com.

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