DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!


Jan 15 2016

Cloudy, With a Chance of Snow

by Camille B

girl-playing-in-showComing from the Caribbean, one of the things I was most excited about was the idea of seeing snow for the very first time. Needless to say, as a resident of  Georgia, this didn’t go as smoothly as planned.

For one thing, I couldn’t understand why every time I mentioned snow, people would snicker and give each other knowing looks–like there was some kind of inside joke I just didn’t know about. Finally one older woman said to me, “Baby, you won’t get any snow, not down here, you’re gonna have to go up north for that.”

I honestly became quite frustrated. Why was everyone trying to dash my hopes? But, I remained positive that come winter I was going to get my snow.

And so I waited, and waited. And finally in January of the following year, when it seemed like all hope was lost, the powdery mixture fell from the sky. To my surprise, it seemed that Georgia residents were just as excited as I was to see the snow come down. I guess, as the older woman rightly said, snow falling in the south is kind of a rare occurrence–and when it does happen, everyone gets excited and, well, a little crazy, too.

You want to see bread and milk disappear off grocery shelves like dew on a June morning? Just say the words “possibility of snow.” I mean, no bread, no milk, no juice, no gas at the pumps. Better to be safe than sorry, right?

And then comes the waiting game. Is it really going to snow? If it does, will it stick? How much will we get? Will they close the schools? Of course kids are thrilled by this last possibility, and they bundle up in front of the television, waiting for their school’s name to scroll across the red banner at the bottom of the screen. Adults wait too–for an early morning phone call telling them they don’t have to come in to work today.

Then, almost everything shuts down. Kids go outside to make an attempt at playing in the snow, making the most of whatever snowfall there is for snow angels and building haphazard, muddy snowmen. Grownups make hot chocolate, soup or chili, and everyone just has a good old time in the snow. (I jokingly tell people that Atlanta has the most disciplined snow I’ve ever seen. It moves in slowly and sprinkles over us for a few hours, maybe a day or two, leaving everything covered in its white blanket. Then it moves on, the sun comes out again, melting everything in its path, and it’s back to life as normal.)

Right now I know that northerners are probably shaking their heads in amusement. Our snow here is more like a couple of teaspoons compared to their shovelfuls (okay, bad comparison). But you get what I mean? And I have to admit it’s totally understandable when you see places like New York and Boston being slammed with record breaking snowfalls. Just take a look at this video of Boston’s snowfall last year–I couldn’t believe it.  Can you imagine us having to deal with 108 inches of snow here in Georgia? It would be insane.

We have seen our share of serious snow accumulation over the years, though nothing quite as debilitating as what’s in that video. According to a news item in the AJC from March of last year, 8.3 inches of snow fell in January 1940, the most in Atlanta history according to the National Weather Service. Then there was the blizzard of 1993, dubbed the Storm of the Century, which people still talk about to this day. And let’s not forget the 4-plus inches of snow and sleet in 2011 that sidelined the entire city for almost five days.

Sometimes, like those rare instances, it can be brutal because we’re not really equipped to deal with such extreme winter conditions here. We are getting better, but a really bad snowstorm can still cause us some major hurt. Overall, I think we can usually take our snowfall in Georgia pretty much in stride. If and when it does come, we do our best to cope–be it with an unexpected 8 inches or the amusing one flurry.

snowstoryAt DCPL:

Snowy Day: Stories and Poems edited by Caroline Feller Bauer

Snowy Weather Days by Katie Marsico

New Orleans Classic Gumbos & Soups: Recipes from Favorite Restaurants by Kit Wohl

The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder by Mark Cassino with Jon Nelson

Southern Soups & Stews by Nancie McDermott




Feb 10 2014

Laura’s world

by Dea Anne M

Getting snowed in the week before last  reminded me of a much-beloved book from my childhood. I’m thinking of course of  The Long Winter which is part of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” series of books. Set in the later 1800’s and forward and based on the Ingalls family’s peripetatic life (Wilder changed some things – most notably some of the chronology and the age of the main character whom she based on herself) the series begins with Little House in the Big Woods and ends with The First Four Years (which was published after Wilder’s death). The Long Winter is a fictionalized account of an actual event which took place in De Smet, South Dakota. Blizzards began in the early fall of 1880 and continued through the late spring of 1881 and attacked the area with such frequency that trains were snowed in on the tracks and the townspeople faced lack of fuel and near starvation. I don’t know about you, but that puts some aspects about our recent snow storm into perspective for me.

It’s difficult for me to exaggerate how much I loved these books as a child. That isn’t to say that there weren’t some aspects of the stories that bothered me. Some of the characters express very unpleasant racial attitudes (especially Ma Ingalls) and I was always vaguely troubled by Pa’s insistence on uprooting his family so dramatically and so often. In the books, the Ingalls family moves from Wisconsin to Kansas then back to Wisconsin then to Minnesota and finally to South Dakota. Of course, by the time I turned ten my own family had moved at least that many times, and always for my father’s work, so make of that what you will.

Now you shouldn’t think that I actually wanted to be a pioneer girl myself what with all the stampeding oxen, creeks filled with leeches and grasshopper invasions but it was delicious to read about such exotic things. It was also comforting to recognize things that Laura’s world and mine had in common – sibling love and combat, strong parental affection, animals, school and, of course, mean girls like Nellie Oleson. I especially loved reading about the clothes the characters wore and how they fed themselves (or couldn’t as in The Long Winter ) and to this day I love books that describe fashion and food in detail (like the books in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series).

Would you like to explore the world of “Little House yourself or rediscover its pleasures? If so, DCPL has what you need. Here’s a list of the books and all are available from DCPL.big woods

cookbookAfter reading about such exotic foodstuffs as prairie chicken and maple sugar on snow you might get the urge to try out some frontier cooking of your own. If so, Barbara M. Walker’s Little House Cookbook: frontier foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s classic stories will be just what you need. I can’t promise that you’ll care for blackbird pie (Little Town on the Prairie) or stewed jack rabbit and dumplings (Little House on the Prairie) but you might very well love fried apples and onions (Farmer Boy) or vanity cakes (On the Banks of Plum Creek). All in all, this is a charming companion to the series.

wilderIf you really develop a fascination with all things Laura, don’t miss The Wilder Life : my adventures in the lost world of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure. A lifelong devotee of the books, McClure begins to delve deeper into the world of the series. She even goes so far as to buy a churn on eBay. She sets up the churn, works the churn for about twenty-five minutes, and when she looks inside she discovers…butter. Butter which tastes remarkably like regular butter. McClure reports that “…I felt like a genius and a complete idiot at the same time.” McClure is an engaging writer – both sincere and hilarious. I’ve only just started the book and I’ve laughed out loud at least a dozen times. Highly recommended.