Deborah & Susan Pritchett on a Snowy Day

One Little Snowflake & Southern Schools Close...

Every time there comes a rumor of snow, southern kids get excited. "Do you think it will…?" "Maybe this time we’ll get…" (We’re almost afraid to say the word, "snow." It might jinx things.) Once a snow is promised beyond the shadow of a doubt, the topic of conversation becomes, for old and young alike, "Will it lay? It won’t lay."

Our schools close when we get half an inch of snow. Of course, hazardous bus routes could be to blame. Buses here run for miles over curving, hilly roads, some of them one laned. The roads aren’t cleared of snow or salted. (Many counties don’t have snow plows). But I think the real reason the schools close is because no work would get done anyway, for the jitteriness of the kids. They’re excited about the chance of snow. Even the teachers get excited. Come the annual prediction of snow and a nervous thrill starts trickling through the classroom. It’s almost palpable, like the tension in a herd of antelope when a lion is near. Noses perk up. Eyes dart toward the window. "It might snow," says a kid. He’s hopeful. "They’re calling for snow flurries," he says, with smug emphasis.

"Huh! Flurries!" says another kid, in derision. "It won’t lay," she says, knowingly; but she’s hopeful, too. In the office, it’s rumored, the principal is pacing the floor. She’s looking at bus schedules. The secretary is standing by, her finger twitching toward the intercom button.

"Yes, it will snow," says the first kid. "It might… ?" (hopefully). He knows it won’t.

“Shhh,” says the teacher. “You kids get back to your work. If it snows, it snows.” But she sneaks a glance toward the window. The kids know she’s looking for snow flurries. Finally comes the flurry, the famous southern snow flurry. It’s a single flake. Some kid spots it.

"SNOW!" he screams. Kids jump and run, the brave ones. The well-behaved ones sit in their seats but lean toward the window and squirm nervously. They stretch as far as they can stretch without actually leaving their seats. The more daring kids are already at the window, noses pressed against the cold panes, little foggy spots forming around their breath. "There it is! It’s snow!" One pitiful, solitary little flake wends it way, curving, toward the ground. It lands on a blade of grass. All eyes stare at it, longingly. It melts. "Awwww." It’s a virtual chorus of disappointment. "It melted," says a kid, matter-of-factly. The others just stare, sadly. (They knew it would melt.)

"You kids get back to your seats!" The teacher opens her book and makes a valiant effort to read from it. Thirty pairs of eyes are fixed on the window. Thirty-one. (The teacher is looking, too.) Minutes go by. Another flake.

"Snow, snow!" screams a kid. "Look." Another rush toward the window. Another flake. Another pathetic, melting little crystal, disappearing before 30 pairs of disappointed eyes. Thirty-one. You can see why the schools have to close.

The South


© 2000 - 2006 by dkp
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This document is a humorous essay about the rare phenomenon of snow in the South. Since it rarely snows in the American South, people in the South get pretty excited when it does snow. They close the schools, they buy every loaf of bread from the store shelves, and they go a little bit wild. Cars end up in ditches. People stay home from work. The kids build pathetic, muddy little snowmen with leaves and twigs sticking out. They do the best they can with this strange stuff coming out of the sky, which is almost as rare as oobleck (rf. Dr. Suess's early work). The "One Little Snowflake" essay itself is about humour, really, moreso than snow. Southerners love to laugh at everything, including themselves. Southerners enjoy life as a humorist enjoys life. Life in the South is life the way Mark Twain intended it to be! Southern Muse will try to provide more such humorous essays as time goes on.