More than a French toast emergency

By Bill Colvard -

It was a magical snow.

The snowfall that began this past Friday, continued on throughout the day and into the next morning was special in a lot of ways. Not least because it inspired so little crazy. As far as I could tell, most people seemed to be getting on with living their lives, rather than ransacking grocery stores for a lifetime supply of bread, milk and eggs in anticipation of a French Toast Emergency.

As is my custom, I had completely dismissed the usual rants of an upcoming Snowmageddon by the infamous “Weather Woman who Cries Wolf” every time there is a possibility of a flake. One might wonder if she is not deep in the pockets of Big Dairy and Big Bakery. I have.

Imagine my surprise to find it actually snowing on Friday morning, exactly as predicted. And by the time I got to Dobson, I was more surprised to see that it was actually starting to stick. And continued to be surprised as the snow didn’t let up, but kept on keeping on all afternoon. And most surprising of all, no one seemed to care.

It was so refreshing. Sometimes, you don’t know you’ve missed something until it’s back in your life.

And, as it turns out, I had missed drama-free snowfall.

At some point that morning, the schools threw in the towel and sent the kids home, which was less surprising than the fact they’d gone to school at all. A little after noon, I put in a call to Surry Arts Council to see if they’d canceled the gingerbread workshop that I was scheduled to cover later that afternoon.

Lo and behold, and again to my great surprise, they had not. This town has got its priorities straight, I thought. Education can always wait, but gingerbread waits for no one.

And sure enough, when I got there a little after 3:30, with the outside world coated in icy white, the lower floor of the Andy Griffith Museum was chock full of wee ones going to town with a bunch of gingerbread houses. With telltale smears of white icing on their faces, they were enthusiastically gluing candy and confections to their little houses. They had chosen candy and gingerbread over French toast. I was so proud of them.

Granted, no one was lingering. As soon as the last bit of candy was slapped on to a house, parents and grandparents swept up the wee ones and ran for the exits, undoubtedly making a beeline for the grocery store.

The next clue that this snowfall was special came on the way home when I stopped at Dollar General and beheld a fully stocked bread aisle. That certainly defied expectation after a full day of snow.

The next morning, the magic continued. Even though it had been snowing more or less continuously for at least 24 hours and the ground was covered in four or five inches of snow, there was not a bit on the roads or sidewalks. Any surface needed for transportation was completely clean, while every other surface was coated in snow and ice.

It was an amazing winter wonderland. The wet snow clung to every tree branch, giving a Christmas card vista in every direction. Usually, that means there’s a lot of ice, and it’s as terrifying to drive in as it is beautiful to look at. But this time, miraculously, the roads were completely clear. I was able to drive the 30 miles to Mount Airy at a reasonably normal speed and didn’t see a single accident on the way.

To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t expecting to see very many people at the Rosy Cheeks Run that morning. It was snowing after all and had been snowing since the day before, and one assumed there would be much French toast to consume. A few unpurchased loaves of bread at the Dollar General and some kids sticking candy on houses did not necessarily mean that the universe had spun completely off its axis.

Except that it had.

There were hundreds of people wandering around Riverside Park in the snow, many of them wearing gloriously demented costumes. Brightly printed jammie pants, Santa beards, reindeer antlers and sometimes all three together in a riot of creativity that defies description. No holiday trope escaped exploration and reinvention. Even a merry band of toy soldier dolls inexplicably had black tutus over their toy soldier uniforms. Why? I couldn’t say. But it was a wonderful statement. Though of what, I am not quite sure.

It was like finding myself in a lost Christmas episode of “The Gilmore Girls” where costumed townsfolk are running amok in the town square under a veil of falling snow as a nutty civic event unfolds. There were even a couple of fellas building a snow man off to the side. Not part of the event, necessarily, but lending it depth.

Folks around me are constantly reminding me that Mount Airy is not a fashion capital — and I take that as a slur on both Mount Airy and fashion capitals — but after Saturday, I see that the potential is here. The imagination is here. The creativity is here. The je ne sais quoi is here. All we need is a little snow to spark the magic.

Needless to say, I was in heaven. I really need a little unself-conscious creativity in my life from time to time, whether it’s a four-year-old sticking pre-licked gumdrops to a gingerbread house or a 70-something Santa running through the park in his red long john underwear.

The magic is here. And next time it snows, I’ll be keeping both eyes open for it.

By Bill Colvard

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.

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