Two thoughts on Winter Weather in North Carolina, addressed mainly to recent transplants from points north

1) If this is your first winter storm in North Carolina and you’re from a significantly more wintery place: first, welcome :-) and second, be aware that what we get down here isn’t usually like what y’all get up north.  I’ve driven a tiny bit in snow up north (Michigan) and it’s *fine* — it’s big, fluffy stuff that is not too treacherous given the sorts of cautions mentioned above (Moshe, *love* that saying!).
What we get down here, OTOH, is often a mix of sleet, freezing rain, and snow, so what looks to be nice, fluffy white snow — the likes of which you’re well accustomed to — may actually be a thin layer of fluffy stuff concealing a treacherous layer of ice.
This is compounded by the weather patterns we often see ’round these parts, which go something like: short sleeve weather, freezing rain, snow, more freezing rain, warm day that’s neither long enough nor warm enough to melt everything, then a really cold night.
2) Yep, you’re right: we don’t know how to deal with snow down here.  We don’t salt enough, nor plow enough, and we (or at least many of we) sure-as-heck don’t know how to drive in it.
If you think about it, though, it makes perfect sense.  The state can’t afford to keep around enormous quantities of equipment on the off-chance that we’ll need it every three-to-six years.  So, yeah, it’ll take a while for the plows to get around to your area.
As for the driving: most North Carolinians that I know (at least the ones that grew up here) just don’t go driving in the snow unless we absolutely have to.  This is why we do the bread, milk, eggs, pop-tarts grocery store run, ’cause we know we’re in for the count! [1]
We know we don’t know how to deal with snow.  We’re ok with that. Those of us that grew up here (usually – can’t speak for everyone) *like* snow days and the fact that everything comes to a grinding halt when it snows.  So don’t feel like you need to tell us How Badly The South Does Snow.  :-)
Enjoy it!
[1]
  • Eggs: just useful to have on hand — nice protein, necessary for many recipes, probably don’t have any in the freezer.
  • Bread: necessary for french toast and grilled cheese sandwiches.
  • Milk: necessary for cream of tomato soup and snow cream [2]
  • pop-tarts: every family has their weird snow thing. This was ours.
[2] Snow cream recipe:
Place large mixing bowl outdoors before snow starts. Remember where you put it.
Meanwhile, in another mixing bowl, whisk together:
  • milk (assuming a large mixing bowl, figure on needing 1-2 c milk total, depending on how wet the snow is, but start with only 1c),
  • vanilla extract (some. More is often good. 1 T)
  • sugar (again, some. “To taste” — I add 1/2c but I have a huge sweet tooth)
  • smidge of salt
Stick this in the fridge until your bowl #1 is full.
When bowl #1 is full of snow, retrieve.  Pour in your previously mixed base (assuming you didn’t drink it straight out of bowl #2), and quickly stir. Add more milk if necessary (this is where the “up to 2 cups” comes in.  It should get to a sort-of ice cream like consistency.
Scoop. Eat.  (But fast, this doesn’t have a long shelf life!)
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Apparently I have to remember I hate the outdoors once a year…and tales of fails

I want to like the outdoors.  It’s pretty, especially at a distance.  And many people whose opinions I respect like the outdoors (this is a theme with me: I assume that if smart people I know like something and I don’t, it must be because I’m missing something about it).

So every year or so I attempt something “outdoorsy” to see if my impressions have changed. Yesterday I went out[1] honeysuckle-blossom picking.  In my head the honeysuckle blossoms looked like they do in botany books: crisp, clean and tidy.  The reality, of course, was that they were covered in pollen, had little bits of detritus stuck in them, and were host to a plethora of little tiny beetle things (ugh).

But I was going to gather blossoms, by golly, so I did, while standing, as it turns out, in a patch of poison ivy.  In this one respect the Gods of Allergy have smiled upon me, for though I am allergic to all the creaures that walk or fly, and all of the pollens, and all of the dust mites, I am not allergic to the poison ivy (or the stuff that mosquitos squirt in you to make you more drinkable).

For this I am thankful.  I did manage to get 4 cups of…well, mostly honeysuckle blooms, but there were a fair number of beetles and misc bits in there too.  I also got covered in pollen which (thanks to the allergies) made me nearly as itchy as the poison ivy would have (but the pollen does wash off, so there is an advantage).

Then today I had one of my massive fails.  The sort of really disturbing fail where you think to yourself “be careful, there’s a chance this terrible thing could happen,” and yourself says “No, no, don’t be ridiculous. That won’t happen.  No worries.  Be happy!”

And then the terrible fail happens and you have not only failed, but also quite ill with yourself for having had the premonition of failure and not listened to it.  This does happen to other people, right?

My fail came in the form of reducing the honeysuckle nectar.  I’d poured boiling water over the blossoms last night, left them to steep, then strained the lot of it this morning (bye-bye boiled beetles, the vast majority of which I’d picked out anyway).  I made a simple syrup, but before adding it to the honeysuckle liquid, I needed to reduce it down some.

So I set it to boiling, and it was taking *forever* to go anywhere.  I sat in front of the stove for 20 minutes with no apparent reduction in volume (you see where this is going right), before deciding to come sit on the couch and tag another couple of journal entries as part of the Great Blog Migration.

Approximately 5 picoseconds later the smell of BURNING.  All is ruined. All is lost. I am sad. Sigh.

[1] Don’t be fooled by the way I used “out” like I was making some grand expedition into the backcountry.  I went to the top of the driveway.  It is, however, a steep driveway.