Where snow is rare

How often can you have a snowball fight in June? Jeff and Drew took advantage of the strange weather at Crater Lake in June, 2000.

How rare is a snowball fight in summer?
Jeff and Drew took advantage of the strange weather at Crater Lake in June, 2000.

“I’ve always felt lucky to live someplace where snow is rare, you know? It’s rareness that makes it so special.”Stephanie Perkins

Unlike Perkins, I didn’t always feel lucky that snow was rare for me.  As a kid I read books about other kids from all different eras, who lived where the snow piled up in huge drifts and the winds and wolves howled outside and hot chocolate and cookies waited by the hearth.  It sounded heavenly, being able to curl up with a book indoors, knowing nobody would make me go outside to play (in my childhood, it was very common for mothers to order kids to go play outside while they chatted over coffee with neighbors).  I thought living where there was lots and lots of snow must be almost magical.

This passed for a snowfall in Atlanta, but Al and I managed to make a Snow Daddy anyway. A bit rounder, but still recognizable. East Point Georgia, sometime around 1966.

In adulthood, after four years in Dayton, Ohio, I was pretty well cured of my romantic notions of snow.  I had never realized how much I’d miss seeing the ground if it was covered up with white for weeks on end.  Not to mention driving in it, walking in it, bundling up two babies plus myself every time I ventured out…I too ended up feeling lucky to have lived where snow was rare, but in my case, it was for mostly practical reasons.

During the decades that followed, during which we lived where snow was not only rare, but pretty much nonexistent, I never missed it.  But I must admit now, when I see it starting to fall, I feel a bit of the old excitement I used to feel as a kid.  Maybe not enough to actually wish for a big snowstorm.  Just enough to appreciate how pretty it can be.  The other day I said to Jeff “I guess it might be a bit disappointing to get through an entire winter with no snowfalls.”  He had a ready answer. “I don’t think I’d regret it.”

I first wrote this post just a couple of days before the predictions of the Great Blizzards of 2016 were announced. The rest, as they say, is history.  Up until then, we had a few flurries blowing through the sky, but no snow to speak of.  How quickly things change.

If you live where snow is rare, enjoy it!  And if you live where it’s everywhere, all around, all the time, like election coverage, enjoy it! (The snow, not the election coverage.) Either way, have a bit of February fun.  Find a comfy chair, put your feet up, and read, or doze, or listen to music, or indulge in a video or some other election-free television.  Have a hot cup of tea or coffee, and let us know how the weather is in your neck of the woods.


  1. Ann

    Weather in South Carolina is unseasonably warm and rainy. Two inches of rain yesterday meant a day inside which was nice. Election noise is too loud and increasing as the primaries near-a good reason to turn off the tv and turn on the phone answering machine 😀

    I’m with Stephanie Perkins! A snowfall is beautiful to watch and so quiet but I want it gone by the next day.!

    • It’s rainy here, too, though a bit chillier, which is all the excuse I need for a cozy day indoors. Like you, my feeling about snow is generally “that was lovely, now let’s go back to normal life with sidewalks and visibility.” Unplugging from all the noise right now is a great idea. Lots of interesting things to keep us busy, and soft music or SILENCE is a great backdrop to indulge a bit of creativity. Here’s to a few more weeks of fun-at-home time! Spring will be here before we know it…

  2. I only like snow when I don’t have anything to do. Jon, on the other hand, adores it and really wishes we lived somewhere where it wasn’t rare. My favourite sort of snow is vacation snow – snow encountered in a place we have chosen to go specifically to enjoy it.
    A couple of years back we spend a night in a snow hotel in Norway (Jon really wanted to – me not so much)… that was a real experience… one that I don’t care to repeat though!

    • “Vacation snow” — I love that term! Definitely my choice for the ideal way to enjoy the cold weather. If we could order things up as in Camelot, I’d wish for a week at a picturesque chalet where the first snow falls after I’m safely tucked away in my rustic, quilt-adorned suite complete with fireplace. There would be a spacious library and plenty of evenings to spend reading with hot cocoa at hand. Meanwhile the snow melts gradually away by the time I have to leave.

      WOW, I’d heard of dwellings built of snow and/or ice, but never known anyone who actually stayed in one. It must have been so interesting! From what you say, I imagine I would find it a bit too chilly for my liking, but how magical an experience that must have been. I just had to look up online to find a similar place in Norway and try to get a mental picture. I just added that to my lengthy list of things I’d like to do in that mythical Someday, but I will be sure to dress warmly!

      • That is the place we stayed! You sleep in a very think polar sleeping bag, but even so it’s not the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had!! I think I’d prefer your fantasy chalet!!

        • I guess I should think twice before I stayed there. In any case, I’m likely to get about as close to my fantasy chalet as I am to this place. But it’s nice to talk to someone who has been there. I’ll enjoy a cozy night in the comforts of home tonight. Hope you are having a nice week.

  3. blseibel

    Our lack of snow is eerie this year. I don’t mind the snow but I’m glad this year it’s light since snow removal is all on me.

    FYI, there is an offer on the house so it looks like I will have to move soon, it makes me sad to leave and especially under these circumstances. Also had a meeting yesterday on a separation agreement that was very stressful and left some things unresolved. On top of that my daughter wants to drop out of college. Man I can’t wait until this season is over, plate too full!!! I try to remain faithful and believe that God will see me through.

    • My heart goes out to you with all the changes you are facing. My circumstances are different but I know many hard changes are in store for us in the coming years, too. It’s an unsettling feeling, to say the least, but one that has grown somewhat familiar to us. In all our military moves, it was always sad to leave behind a place that had been home, even if it had only been 3 years (or in one case, as little as 18 months). The consolation was, and is, that life always held plenty more joy in store. The hardest moves for me personally were both of the times we had to leave California and all the gifts our time there had given me. Yet, in every case, there were other unexpected gifts in store…

      I guess no one escapes having to endure some sort of change, but you are getting more than usual at this particular time. Through all the stress and changes you are facing, I hope you will keep holding on to the hope that better things lie ahead. I’m sending warm thoughts and prayers for you to have some resolution, a sense of peace, and maybe even the occasional spark of anticipation about what my be coming your way in a future you cannot now imagine…also sending some of those Giant hugs Marlene is so good at giving… ❤ ❤ ❤

  4. Steve

    Thank you for these thoughts Julia. This touches upon a quote I have enjoyed in the past…
    “Appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with
    awe, pleasure, wonder, and even ecstasy, however stale these experiences may have
    become to others.” -Abraham Maslow
    I find that there is always an abundance of memories in those things that others may see as mundane. It is in keeping those memories alive that never allows for them to become dull.

    • Steve, what a lovely quote. I have never come across that one before, even after 3+ years of spending hours reading quotes! 😀 And yes, it’s great advice. I don’t know whether you remember my sweet roommate Kathy, but she and I used to be teased by others about how much “fresh and naive” joy we got out of what they saw as very simple pleasures. Interestingly, we both were blessed with fathers who gave us wings to fly in a very practical sense, as we also got to make some fabulous trips on free airline passes made possible by our fathers’ jobs. So I always felt that perhaps we were given more experiences because we enjoyed the little ones so much. Sort of a variation on “he who is faithful over a few things” I guess.

      Most all of the people I have known over the years have not only many “mundane” joys to remember, but also some fairly unusual ones. Things like having been the go-to Elvis impersonator, for example. 😉 When you get right down to it, so many of us have led lives that were charmed in one way or another, whether we realized at the time or not. When we remember that, it can give us much-needed perspective during the hard times.

      • Steve

        I have always had a gift of discernment for those things special and unique. Spending time in the middle of the woods while someone takes a picture of me would show a great deal of discernment as that was not my forte. Yet it was charmingly unusual and I keep it as one of those little jewels of remembrance that others might have discarded.
        That is why your thoughts on all of this are very special and timely!

        • Steve, “charmingly unusual” is a good way to put it. Somewhere I think I still have a photo of me you took that day, too. If I find it I’ll post it sometime.

  5. Sheila

    What great photos for our rainy Thursday! I love the ‘Mr. Carlyle’ snowman, for many reasons! ⛄️ Our daughter, Ashley, loves snow and gets so overly excited at just the mere prediction for snow. I tell her that she’s the ‘snow diva’.❄️ I’m inside today, except for a brief, wet walk with Jack. 🐾☔️ I have a pound cake in the oven…. I digress (Bill’s on a diet)! I can hide the cake but what about the aroma?

    • Ah, there’s really no hiding that sweet aroma of pound cake, as I well recall. My mother probably made as many pound cakes over the years as all her other desserts put together, and they never “went begging” as the phrase used to go. Topped with fresh peaches, or strawberries and cream, or brandied fruit (my mothers’ particular trademark, which she made from “starter” in a continual cycle) or other accents, they were so tasty that people used to rave over them. But I always felt that it was hard to improve on just the cake itself, and my memory is that I preferred to eat it plain…I hope Bill will be able to indulge just a bit, and find other ways to trim calories.

      Perhaps Ashley will end up living in the far north one day. It seems that most southern families have at least one who “flies the coop” to vastly different places. Some people are definitely more suited to cold weather than others. I am one of the “others” 😀 and getting more so the older I get. But I’ve enjoyed having seasons again, especially as they are here in most of the south, with long springs and autumns.

  6. Great post, Julia. We loved snow as children, but we didn’t have to shovel it, drive in it, or otherwise worry about it. We had a sled, a tobagon, and a snowsuit to keep us warm. The rest of my life I’ve lived in California. It snowed for fifty minutes *once* when I was in high school. A rare event. We can easily access snow just a few hours away in Lake Tahoe. Did you spend any time there when you lived in California?

    • Alys, what not to love about snow, as long as there is no shoveling, driving or other worry involved? But it’s still not as appealing as CA, that’s for sure. WOW, I can’t imagine even fifty minutes of snow in San Jose! I bet it was quite exciting to the students.

      We did go to Lake Tahoe and environs several times, though never in the snow, as far as I can remember. I guess Donner Pass, one of my personal favorites, would have been even creepier in snowy weather…One of the things I always loved best about NorCal was that one could drive, in a few hours or less, to almost any climate or geographical variant at almost any time. DEEP snow in June at Crater Lake, Oregon; chilly winds in July in San Francisco while thirty minutes away in Napa and Solano (the latter being where we lived) toasty, dry sunshine. Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Mt. Shasta, the ocean, the redwoods, the magnificent Big Sur coastline, and lovely Santa Barbara, all within easy reach. Wow, I’d better change the subject– I’m getting homesick! 😀

      • Oh dear. You’ve made a long, wonderful list of California attributes, all true. I hope you come back one day, if not to stay than at least for a long visit. I’ve been to every place you’ve listed except Crater Lake. I have been to Ashland, Oregon though for some wonderful theater.

        I hope we get the promised early spring!

        • YES, I’m rooting for an early spring (no pun intended).

          I didn’t know about theater in Ashland, but the West Coast is full of great theater. There is a fabulous theater in Santa Maria, CA, near where we used to live. We saw many wonderful productions there. The highlight was being extraordinarily blessed to meet the great, generous and kind Ray Bradbury, who was supportive enough to travel to Santa Maria to attend the opening night of Dandelion Wine, a play that left me in tears. My photos of myself with Mr. Bradbury are NOT flattering because I’d been crying so hard. “You really snuck up on me with that one,” I told him, and he replied with convincing candor, “Oh, it destroys me every time I see it!” What a wonderful memory, of a play that is all about memories.

  7. Amy

    Hmmmm I think I share Jeffs view on this. Although if someone else would do the shoveling and I had power for crafts and sewing I might not mind a storm or two once in awhile.

    • When we have our little hovercraft to travel in (like the Jetsons did) we can zoom right over that long driveway and visit easily even in the deepest snow. The deer are not looking forward to it, but it will definitely have advantages for humans. Meanwhile let’s not wait for that era to get started on some of those crafts! Thanks for a wonderful day yesterday, and for being so patient and such a good listener…

  8. I would agree–I grew up in MI. But lovely, too 🙂 Nice childhood picture,

    • When Jeff was first accepted into the Air Force, we felt very fortunate– no one in the entire dental school graduating class had gotten into the Air Force the previous year, despite some excellent students trying– until they told him his first assignment: K. I. Sawyer AFB in the upper peninsula of Michigan (Marquette). Jeff said “No thanks” which worried me to death — I was afraid it would be a deal-breaker, but then they said “Korea” and he said “no thanks” again (which worried me even more), then finally they offered us one he could live with, Wright-Patterson in Ohio.To our southern ears it sounded almost as frozen as Michigan, but was a wonderful place to live that still has a special place in our hearts. I picture Michigan as being a beautiful state, a sportsman’s dream (as Gordon Lightfoot sang) but it does seem a bit too chilly for our tastes. Do you ever miss it?

      • Interesting–yes, the UP is a wild and woolly and freezing cold place in winter, most of all! The four seasson as in Ohio were wonderful, and in mid-MI. it was perhaps wintry less months. I miss the figure skating outdoors and the other fun activites we had–but at 65, it is a pleasant memeory (and I stoll skate at times!) We also have the mountains here so it is less than an hour to go up on Mt. Hood–and there are other ones nearby as well as in WA. So snow can be had if we want it!:)

        • I think figure skating is the dream of many young girls, including me, and probably more than a few young guys too. In college I knew some guys who had played hockey and it amazed me to think that people could do things like figure skate and play competitive sports while I had all I could do to stay in a standing position, the few times I ever tried ice skating (mostly at the old Colony Square Ice Capades in Atlanta). Cheers to you if you are still skating at all! I’m not sure I’d have the nerve to try it again, but then, I was never good at it.

          It’s wonderful to have mountains within driving distance. I wish we would enjoy the Blue Ridge more often. But our mountains are not as fabulous as those in the west.

  9. I too live where snow is rare in the Piedmont on NC. Our mountains get plenty but we get the occasional dusting or the enormous 4 inches. I’m from here and grew up with the magic of the occasional snow but in my later years I followed my husband around in the Air Force. He took me to places like Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, and New York. The joy of snow was always there when it first started but after seeing it for months on end…it faded.

    • Another Air Force wife! It’s great to hear from you. Jeff chose the Air Force over the Army mostly because we were told their assignments were in more appealing places, and it sounds as if you experienced the same. My friend Amy (another AF wife) totally loved Montana; I think it is to her what California is to me, a sort of adopted home state. I’ve never even been there. While she lived there I was trying to find a way to go see her– I asked her what the closest airport was, and I think she said “Bozeman” and I said “No, really, what is the closest REAL airport?” 😀 and she said “Denver” and I said “hmmm, maybe not.” 😀 Though I did manage to go see her when she lived in Colorado Springs, which I loved. Was your hubby in missiles? When Jeff first got in the AF someone told us that they intentionally tried to station you as far as possible from your home town. We thought they were joking, but after so many assignments in the west, we began to think maybe they were serious. It sounds as if they did the same in your case. For us, it has been a wonderful 30 years. I hope you feel the same about it. Thanks for being here!

      • Yes were loved it and yes we were far from home. So proud of you for embracing it. We were also stationed in California, Texas, Arizona, and a few others. I was in very hot places and then very cold places but loved it all.

        • I loved it everywhere we ever lived. I think that’s partly luck and partly because I love it almost everywhere. 😀 When Jeff and I first married I told him “the world is too big to live all our lives in the same place.” Guess that worked out… 😀

  10. You should be here, Julia. We just had 6-9 inches yesterday. Power, cable and phones were out for about 16 hours. Fortunately, I purchased a full house generator 3 years ago. Passed its first test with flying colors. But, still is a beautiful sight.

    • I’m glad you have a generator! If I lived where power outages averaged even once a year, I’d have to save up and buy one. I am a total wimp about being without power. I keep walking into rooms and trying to turn on lights; I can’t seem to get it into my head that there is NO POWER to be had. The snow would be even prettier if there was a generator to keep things cozy indoors.

      • I know the feeling of powerless disorientation. So, I bought a generator-and ended it.
        p.s. It is cozy. Get one, Julia.

        • Thanks, Alan. It helps to have a recommendation. I am a big fan of electrical power. 😀

  11. bobmielke

    I was born and raised in St. Louis, MO where snow was a common occurrence. As an adult I lived through the blizzards of 1978 in NJ. In between I spent 13 years in SC and 10 years in Portland, OR where snow was not all that common.

    Now I live in Uxbridge, MA where snow is a real part of daily life in Winter. I dodged the blizzard of 2016, only managing around 4″ as the storm wound its way of the coast right under Boston. Since then I’ve been reaquainted with heavy snow and see more on its was in just a few days.

    It’s beautiful but extremely dangerous. The 11″ we got a few days ago was wet and heavy, coating every branch of every tree. We’ve lost two lives from tree branches falling on people as they worked to clear their cars or, in one sad case, a little girl was killed playing in her backyard.

    I’ve chosen to live here so it’s up to me to deal with the reality that is New England in Winter.

    • Bob, you make a good point about the dangers of weather, and not all are obvious, such as the tree branches you mention. We keep our eyes on the ground, understandably, during ice weather, but seldom look overhead. The other day, though it wasn’t snowing, we were out back and saw a large, fairly heavy branch fall into our yard from somewhere way above — luckily nobody was nearby. The cold weather must weaken the branches even when it isn’t snowing. Snow, trees and other beautiful things do come with risks. I hope you are adapting to your new climate without too many headaches.

      • bobmielke

        After 13 years of living in South Carolina I became familiar with the dangers of falling limbs and trees. There they get terrible ice storms where the excess weight snaps limbs and brings down huge trees. Here it’s wet snow doing the same thing. Care must be taken to park away from overhead limbs.

        • Not only that, but don’t stand or linger under them either! 😀

  12. LB

    Hear, Hear! I’ve loved every flake!

    • LB, I bet it was gorgeous at and around your home!

  13. I loved your snowman and your smile in the photo. Don’t all children love snow? I did until I had to walk to school in it in Colorado Springs. It was as deep as I was tall and bone chilling cold. I’ve lived in every kind of climate as well and have come to really, really appreciate the rain. No shovel required. We get a one day storm maybe once a year. I love to watch the snow and did for many years in the mountains of Arizona. I could watch the snow for hours but then I had to get out and shovel it, walk and drive in it. That part was a bit harder. We had our one snow this year. I will tell you that the east coast winters are a lot colder than west coast winters. I loved Steve’s quote. I will have to borrow it, I’m sure.. Stay warm and dry and enjoy. It’s going to be another record setting summer and we will be longing for a snowstorm. 🙂

    • Marlene, I always try to remind myself of how we’ll be longing for some chilly weather when the temps climb up into the 90’s and beyond. It’s amazing to me the way, when I’m cold, I can hardly imagine being too hot, and when I’m too hot, I can’t imagine not totally LOVING cold weather. There must be some sort of lesson in there somewhere…

      You know I never think of “snow” and “Arizona” in the same sentence, but I would love to see some Arizona snow. Did you like living there? I agree with you that western winters are way easier than eastern ones, snow or no snow. I must have some sort of genetic affinity for the west, though I never discovered it until we spent so many years living west of the Mississippi. My paternal grandfather’s people all lived out west, so maybe it’s a carryover from them. I have tried to locate my California relatives from time to time, but thus far, haven’t been able to do so. I did find a reference to a woman whom I really believe may have been my grandfather’s first wife…but that’s another story…

      • There are “lots” of stories, aren’t there? 🙂 Most people think Phoenix when they think of Arizona not Flagstaff. My last winter in AZ had 6 foot of snow and we had to hire a backhoe to get us dug out. The tractor and snow thrower couldn’t do the job and we paid people to shovel the roof so it wouldn’t collapse. I loved it there but the isolation in winter finally got to me.

        • WOW! 6 feet of snow and a backhoe to plow — definitely not what I think of as an Arizona story. When I picture the southwest I imagine lots of flat-roofed adobe houses, but I guess that would not work well in climates where the snow flies. I do think that degree of isolation would drive me crazy too. I imagine it’s easier now with the internet…assuming we are all like Alan and smart enough to get ourselves a generator.

  14. Hello hello Julia! I’m on the prowl to catch up with at least one friend tonight 😀 Your snowman of your dad is priceless as are you. OMGosh J, I’d know that was you in a heartbeat. At first was confused because your current condo is brick too and I thought, “who’s this boy with Julia?” LOL! Then I realized it’s an image from your childhood. How old do you think you were there? I like that your daddy snowman also has a moustache. I had no idea it actually snowed in Atlanta. As a kid, I had an Aunt who lived there, she’d call and tell us it was 90 F at midnight and I thought, “man, she must live in the tropics”, HA!

    I’m usually excited to see the first snow, it’s fun through Christmas with all the coloured lights sparkling. Then in January, I wish it away and by February we’re entirely over it and leave on a holiday. This year, we’ve been spoilt. We didn’t have much snow or cold weather at all. Even compared to last year, when Jim was away in January and it snowed buckets every day. Strange how it differs so much year to year. A good amount of our winter snow has melted in open fields and sidewalks. Our yard still has a fair bit, but it piles up from shovelling the patio, walks and deck off onto the small patch of lawn. Maybe it seems like more because our yard is pretty small. You’re lucky to have experienced both worlds and can realistically weigh the pro’s and con’s. I think if I didn’t have to drive to work, it would be even better. The city is chaos every time it snows. Which is so weird because you’d think we’d be used to it, LOL. xoxo K

    • Hi K, so wonderful to “visit” with you early in the day on this lazy Saturday (catching up after a VERY hectic week culminating in a lovely retirement ceremony for Jeff yesterday — I’ll try to post some pics to Facebook soon). The snowman photo of Al and me was scanned from a slide that was processed in January 1968, which means I would have been just slightly past my 11th birthday (which would have fallen in late 1967). Snow in Atlanta was even more rare then than it is now, but I think there were three or four times in my childhood that we got 2-3 inches. I don’t remember ever getting a deep snow there at all, though we did have some formidable ice storms that left us without power at times. One of my coziest childhood memories is of such an ice storm that left huge areas without power for almost a week; no school (hooray!) and my brother, sister and I slept on the floor in the den, so we could be by the fireplace. I can remember waking up to the sound of Daddy adding more wood to the fire through the night, and I felt like Laura Ingalls, one of my favorite fantasies 🙂 (though I was never a fan of the TV version that came later).

      It’s funny to think that even in northern Canada, the winter weather varies. I heard from my Alaska pal that it had been unusually warm for them this year, too, at least the last time I heard. Nature certainly keeps us on our toes and keeps things interesting! Maybe part of the reason the city goes into chaos in the snow is that a tiny bit of chaos is a fun way to break the routine, as long as everyone stays safe and warm. YES, it’s much more fun when one does not have to go to work. 😀

  15. Michael

    Last week I caught a “snow moon” in New York. Apparently Native American’s named this moon for a full moon in February. It was quite beautiful, immense,, light orange, filling the East Harlem skyline. Amazing.

    • Wow, I bet that was wonderful — all the more so for seeing it over one of the world’s most unforgettable skylines. I have not heard of the snow moon, but I learn things here every week, it seems. I imagine a full moon on a fresh snow truly does give “the lustre of midday to objects below” as Moore wrote in his unforgettable poem. Thanks for sharing that remarkable experience with us. I love to make imaginary journeys to NYC, even if only for a few seconds!

  16. Michael

    Last week in NYC I saw a beautiful snow moon and it was not even snowing. Name such by the Algonquins for a full moon in February. This one was huge, orange, and filled the entire East coast skyline. Amazing.

    • Michael, I got both these comments but decided to include them both since the details are a bit different in each. I do love the mental picture you conjure up with the thought of an enormous colorful moon over NYC. Thanks for sharing it.

  17. Michael

    I really need to get a decent camera. Did you see this moon from Yorktown? I actually have a pict of snow in Atlanta I will try to send to your phone. It was taken in my son’s backyard in Canton.

    • Michael, try sending the photo to defeatdespair@gmail.com. I’m not very good at getting photos on my phone because I often can’t figure out how to get them from the phone to the computer! I missed the moon– it might have shone over Yorktown but I haven’t gotten out to see much lately. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the quality of photos one can get from relatively inexpensive cameras nowadays.

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