Fear of the ‘S’ word

Katie Compton Boyd
Katie Compton Boyd

By Katie Compton Boyd

I saw what strikes dread and terror in every old Southern woman’s heart: a wooly worm! An omen of a bad winter. 

It’s hard to imagine now, as it’s been so warm, but if the wooly worm is any indication we might brace ourselves and buy stock in sunbeam bread loafs. 

A word on Southerners and snow-ok, Yankee friends: we hear your snickers and faint laughter but our eyes are glued to the news and we are frantically tracking Jim Cantore, pinging like some strange prophet of doom. His visage is some strange symbol of nature’s wrath. Instantly we are full of a child’s wonder and you’ll find full grown adults making snow angels, deranged and flitting about, tongues outstretched and putting Gene Simmons to shame. Some foolhardy ones may even peel out in their cars to do donuts for sheer novelty. Or stupidity. Or both. 

Moms will stick their progeny in the stuff just to snap a pic (oh, you’ll see the evidence soon) and rosy-cheeked kids will celebrate this occurrence for all of…10 minutes. 

The cold would’ve set in! No snow suits after all! Socks may even take the place of mittens for we ragtag rebels. 

There is no loyalty, however, when snow looms. 

Like a biblical plague of locusts we swarm the aisles of milk and bread and pop-top non-perishables. Look at our eyes in the store: small gleaming pupils, pursed lips. Reptilian and far from human. This is survival! We look to the sky and smell peril, and by god, it’s contagious. Full on panic mode. The older locals will mutter stories of the great blizzard of ‘89 like the strange grizzly local loon in every horror movie. 

Steer clear of us, for we have lost of all things our characteristic Southern manners. That is, until we inquire to things like shovels, salt and kitty litter. Then, by all means, help us please! We won’t even mind your scoffs. 

The heat here makes our brains a bit eccentric and our blood a little thinner. We’ve lost our internal barometer. 

Though we panic at the four-lettered word that strikes fear in our very core, I promise — no, I swear: As God as my witness, snow is not gonna lick me. Nor any of my kin. If I have to lie, or cheat, or steal, or kill. 

And when you board up your windows and stock up for a Category 2 hurricane, I swear, I’ll only be ‘blessing’ your pea-pickin’ little ol’ hearts but eager to lend our labor and lumber.