Last week, as temperatures dropped and gray clouds rolled across Dawson County, locals got that certain look in their eyes.
People passed each other on the street, nodding with a knowing smile.
Co-workers gathered, sipping coffee, checking the weather forecast on the computer.
As the first flakes descended on our neck of North Georgia, folks stepped out onto their porches, smiling up at the sky.
For most of us in the Southeast, a warm regard for snow is rooted deep in childhood.
As young people, our faces pressed against the window pane, we longed for the falling water crystals to stick around.
A fresh, white coating on the roads opened windows of opportunity for adolescent adventures. Chiefly, a good dusting meant no school the next day.
We were too young to sleep in those days, and why snooze when each passing moment meant less time crunching through the loose powder with family and friends?
Waking up early on a snow day, the sound of the morning news could be heard through the walls.
My mom watched the local station for a list of school closings.
She wouldn’t let me go outside without at least two pairs of everything.
With ultra-thick layers of clothing, I waddled out the door, eyes squinting at the bright heaps of snow.
Following the laughter of nearby kids, I stumbled on with a Frankenstein swagger.
Wearing a coat, two pairs of blue jeans, three pairs of socks and every T-shirt I owned, I marked slow progress up the icy street.
A neighbor from up the road whooshed past, sprawled out on a cardboard refrigerator box. Such a container found gathering dust in the garage was the perfect makeshift sled.
Owning an actual snow sled in Georgia made about as much sense as buying a bathing suit in Alaska, with opportunities to use one few and far between.
So, when the snow came, we got creative. Big cardboard boxes did the trick until they got waterlogged and tore to pieces mid-luge.
Sledding downhill could be a graceful affair until you hit the bottom.
Those constrictive layers of clothing meant trouble when it was time to bail from a failing run.
After several crash landings, the snow had a tendency to seep through clothing.
Thawing out was the most dreaded part of a snow day, though necessary for continued activities.
Our basement didn’t have carpet, so it was our thawing station.
Dad would open up the heating vents and turn on the radio. We’d shake the ice from our clothes, leaving hunks of dirtied snow in our wake.
By the time we were warm enough to go back out, the discarded snow from our clothes had melted into a body of water in front of the door, which my dad swept outside with an old broom.
Then, it was back outside for building snowmen and feverish snowball fights.
If we were lucky, Mom made snow ice cream with vanilla and sugar. The treat was as rare as the wintry precipitation that birthed it.
Excitement at the prospect of Georgia snow followed us into adulthood.
These days, when we wake up on a cold morning and see the landscape cleansed by the fresh, white blanket, it triggers something.
A shared smile passed between friends and strangers alike as they crossed paths last week on the snowy streets of Dawsonville.
Frank Reddy is a staff writer for the Dawson Community News. Contact him at (706) 265-3384 or firstname.lastname@example.org.