Hominy & Hash
A WIND FROM THE NORTH
by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- When I hear the weatherman's voiceover, commenting on the oranges, blues, yellows and greens sweeping across a map of the United States, I stay focused on the Georgia coast, just above where it curves into the peninsula that is Florida. If I hear the words "a wind from the North ..." I pull my sweater closer around me and shudder a little.
There was a time, and it would have been in February then, too, that hearing "a wind from the South ..." would have me open the windows for a long-awaited balmy breeze. Oh, winter wouldn't be over for a little while just yet, but a wind from the South would tell us Spring would indeed follow. There had been weeks of rock candy ice under our feet and, frankly, we were losing faith.
One more "wind from the North" announcement will change our whole attitude about choosing southern living. We took pride in putting scarves and mittens in dead storage when we came, only brought out for that occasional trip to the North. And, we took delight in seeing the front page of the New York Times picturing cross-country skiers in Central Park.
Today on "Good Morning America," Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer made snow angels in front of the ABC Studios. They flopped straight down on their backs and spread arms and legs until they each formed a perfect angels with feathery wings. Charlie and Diane had the delight of children in their smiles.
In Georgia, we have the cold mornings with no delight and few smiles. The tourists continue their plans and play golf in 33 degree weather because they paid handsomely in advance. Of course that's no worse than going skiing when a wind from the South ruins the slopes.
What we have, North or South, are the winds of chance. I dress for the weather and, chances are, it will change. I leave the windows open on a sunny day and chances are, it will rain. And, the chance that a snowfall can be called a blizzard, depends on the wind and how hard it's blowing.
This morning, standing on the scene in Washington, a reporter faced the camera, microphone in his cold hand explaining a storm vs. a blizzard, offering the worst of it as where to put the snow when it stops falling. His thick, dark, hair was capped (not flaked) with snow before he finished his 90-second report on conditions in our nation's capital.
Is it possible those struggling with the downfall would envy me my cloudy, 50 degree day? It is gloomy; I'm chilled to the bone and the forecast is "a wind from the North." How far south do I have to go before I find the winds from the South start out and those coming from the North can't reach me?
Am I looking for the perfect climate? Yes, I am. Wherever can it be? Some have said San Diego. The mountains are cool and crisp for family camping and you can swim down at sea level -- albeit in very cold water.
Some have suggested Australia as having perfect climate and I listened up as a food server at Outback Restaurant, having traveled twice around the world with the U. S. Navy, said "Australia." That had occurred to me when I noticed Australians make up a very small percentage of emigres to the United States.
John mentioned when is was cold in Australia it was sunny and crisp and when it was warm, it was clear and you could hear the birds chirping.
"What about the fires," my husband asked. "What about the earthquakes in California," I countered. The waiter, John, said his idea of perfect weather was overcast, about 50 degrees, cold enough for a sweater, cold enough to light the fireplace, cold enough to feel it to the bone...
"Like today," I interjected. "Well, yes. But it won't last much longer, unfortunately."
Everyone talks about the weather and no one does anything about it - nor can we. We are victims of what happens wherever we hang out hats.
I am here in the Golden Isles of Georgia and here I must acclimate. I must accept the seasons as they come, as different as they are year to year.
It's not only here that weather is not all it's cracked up to be. As the storm clouds continue to gather Washington to New York, as snow continues to fall, we're advised this storm will be called "The Blizzard of '03."
But, notice, it's almost March. It will come in like the proverbial lion and go out like the soft lamb. That knowledge has kept me coping with my feeling of the seasons for decades. If anything at all happens in March, we can take it. April is in sight.
Well, so it is. But my question remains. Is this it? Have I reached the place of my final resting? Are there no more days of boxing books, packing pictures, protecting plates and breakables? I mean, really, is this all there is? A trip here and a trip there, always home to the final resting place?
I'm beginning to sound like Steinbeck's "The Winter of our Discontent." It has been that, weatherwise. But, otherwise, where I hang my hat is where I am at home. In this case, the golden isles of Georgia.
Is there anyone who can escape the smell of rubber boots dripping in the outer hall along with the soaking wet mittens and caps? No. Do they want to go back to the person who left them there? Hardly.
At least, not me.