Saturday, January 9, 2010
And I prayed for snow
When I was a small child, it probably didn't snow at Christmas as often as it seemed to, but at least was cold around Christmastime and that meant there was at least the possibility of clean, white, magical snow. It was east Tennessee, and the Great Smoky Mountains stood nearby and, well, it was possible.
Anyone who has lived in north Florida knows that while cold weather is certainly possible, snow is just about out of the question, though not completely unknown. There was one winter in which the fort green, that beautiful expanse of green grass carpet surrounding St. Augustine's Castillo, was tipped with white snow. It was the same year I was sneaked into a local drinking establishment to hear Gamble Rogers, the same year I heard Lis sing for the first time...but these, my darlings, are stories for another time. Snow, it is.
So here we are: one of the first winters I spent in St. Augustine as something other than a tourist, Christmas Day was so warm the doors and windows had to be opened to let the heat from the roasting turkey out of the stifling kitchen. This is how it went in other years, too. Some years, a satisfying chill would descend for the holidays, making happy the women working in kitchens to bring forth perfectly golden brown turkeys and their men, out in the woods as soon as family obligations would grudgingly permit, where a deer killed in the bracing cold would keep longer on one of those 80-degree Yuletide mornings. It made kids happy, too, since those nice flannel p.j.s and fluffy sweaters Santa brought were so much easier to wear in colder weather. And all this aside...I couldn't summon the "I'll Be Home For White Blue Christmas Without You Chestnuts Roasting What're You Doing New Year's" feeling in the 78 degree sunshine. So I prayed for snow.
I have prayed for snow, asked Santa for snow, joked about asking Santa for snow, told my husband, my friends, my children that snow was all I wanted for Christmas every year for more years than I like to think about. And now we've had a 2-week long cold snap (can a "snap" really last as long as a fortnight?), with days that have barely been able to raise their drooping heads out of the 30s and nights that have been blown by the north wind into long hours of 20s, with wind chills almost touching single-digits. This morning, in fact, my prayer for snow was almost answered (maddeningly), though it seems to have skirted us here in north Florida and passed along to the south of us. And in its wake I find I am more than even grateful for our beautiful Golden Hour, in which the sun spills gently through the oaks and touches the Spanish moss ever so quietly.
Respectfully, I'd like to change my prayers, wishes and best hopes from Christmas snow to winter peace, without, perhaps, the drama of near-freezing temperatures for quite so long, and with, perhaps occasional reminders of glorious spring beckoning in the distance.
And in case you still need to bake something so your oven stays on and your house is warmed, I think you ought to get those big baking potatoes out. Scrub them, poke a few fork holes in them, and wash them well. Spray with some Pam, or rub with a touch of butter (my grandmother would have used bacon fat), and sprinkle with some kosher salt; bake until done. You can eat them tonight, or you can save until tomorrow and serve as you like with eggs for breakfast, sliced, drizzled with olive oil and roasted or chopped right up into your breakfast omelet. Oh, and for heaven's sake, do stop praying for snow.