The Zero Mile Post marked the meeting of two railway lines and possibly the beginning of the city of Atlanta.
I like snow days. I’m not going to lie. I love my job. It’s great. But a snow day means a day to work from home. I’m lucky. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a police officer. The fate of the universe is not dependent on my driving into the office. Plus, this is Georgia. We only get two or three snow days a year. Most of those don’t even come with snow.
I can explain snow days in Atlanta to you.
A Snow Day with Ice
Most of our snow days involve no snow at all. Atlanta loves being cold and wet, but not the right combination of cold and wet that leads to snow. We get sleet, hail, freezing rain, and ice, but rarely snowflakes, despite what you hear about our politics.
Ice clings to power lines and tree branches. Ice is a sneaky devil. In Atlanta, we are experts in something called Black Ice. It’s not a race thing, but invisible ice, like regular ice became a super hero. Freezing rain lands on our hot Atlanta pavement, melts, and then freezes into magical sheets of black ice. Black ice forms on sidewalks and driveways. Black ice can take down a healthy tree and the entire power grid of Fulton County. It’s really dangerous. Snow tires do not work against black ice. Salt will work eventually, but since our freezing rain is rain, salting before snow or ice just means washing salt down the sewer systems.
For a quick geography lesson, Atlanta is at the bottom of the Appalachian Mountains, meaning we are a hilly place to get snow. Atlanta is so special with our foothills that make ice storms particularly treacherous. Have you ever driven on the steep part of North Avenue covered in ice? No one has. But ice is a good excuse not to go to work on snow days.
A Snow Day with Snow
On December 8, 2017, Atlanta got an actual day of snow with snow. Snow comes down in the form of snowflakes. They are unique and beautiful particles of already frozen fluffy stuff. Snow can be picked up and formed into balls. This happens in northern regions of Georgia with regularity, but not as much in Atlanta. Snow is awesome. I can’t say much about snow, because I’ve seen it maybe ten times in my entire life.
A Snow Day without Snow
Now before you complain about snow days without snow, don’t. Don’t say a word about the most sacred day of the year, when school is canceled and work is delayed for snow that doesn’t appear.
This is a pretty new phenomena. When I was a kid, they did not cancel school in Atlanta until after we got two inches of snow, and we were stuck at school with our Georgia quality winter coats. No offense to Old Navy, but your winter coat from Old Navy is only good for indoor hockey games.
I never got to stay home from school without snow, but my kids understand this is a possibility and out of an abundance of caution, they don’t even get excited about snow days any more. We’ve found new and wonderful ways to crush the spirit of our kids. Georgia no-snow days.
Work From Home Snow Days
This is possible depending on your job and depending on the age of your kid. I make big gourmet breakfasts on snow days. I’ve invented a recipe for the best hot chocolate ever. I manage to get most of my work done, in spite of all the interruptions. Snow days are a blessing for me. I enjoy the time with my kids. I’m glad my teachers get an extra day off. I do not want to be one of those people on their death bed wishing they’d spent more time doing meaningful stuff. I seize the snow days.
But at three o’clock in the afternoon on Monday, I broke down and shouted at my poor kids. They were fighting and running in the house and making too much noise. I told them to go outside so I could finish my one last work conference call. After all it was 37 degrees outside. Hardly freezing even by Atlanta standards.
“Get your big coat. Get a blanket. And get a book,” I said. A big coat is the name of a type of coat in Georgia. If I don’t say “big coat” they put on a sweatshirt because kids in Georgia think a sweatshirt is a coat. And yes, my son was in shorts.
My kids grabbed their stuff and went outside. They wrapped themselves in blankets and proceeded to read outside in the elements for over an hour.
This is Atlanta. I need them to know how to ride MARTA, deal with panhandlers, and cope with snow days. Without snow. None of my kids came inside with sniffles. No one cried. Best of all, it was a good day. And no one complained about the lack of snow.
Nicki Salcedo knows the loops and the back roads of Atlanta. She is a novelist, blogger and working mom. The Zero Mile column appears on the Atlanta Loop on Wednesdays.