When I awoke this morning there was snow in our backyard. Actual snow. My wife and I were giggling like kids on Christmas morning.
This is our first Birmingham snow. We have only been Alabama residents for one week, and already we’ve experienced all four seasons. Maybe five.
I staggered from the bedroom and let two dogs outside to pee. They bounded into a snowdrift, kicking up tufts of white powder, barking like protagonists in a Jack London novel. Their noses were covered in confectioners’ sugar, their paws were blackened with mud.
They rolled around in the snowy grass like they were putting out fires. My wife was so overcome with glee that she joined them.
I haven’t seen her laugh like that in a while. It’s been a long year.
The world looked calm beneath the weight of the new fallen accumulation. There was heavy dusting on our camellias, on our daffodils, on the Virginia creeper, and in the oak trees. The neighbor’s pansies had gone to be with Jesus.
There was a stubborn snow crust clinging to every horizontal surface. Snow on my truck hood. Snow on the green Waste Management bins. Snow on the neighbor’s cat.
Snow on powerlines, snow atop fence pickets, snow coating automotive hubcaps. There was even snow covering the statue of the Virgin Mary, perched in the garden of a nearby home. The poor Blessed Mother had an icicle dangling from her nose.
There were thick quilts of snow blanketing distant rooftops, bright white, catching the morning sun. There was snow on window panes, collected in street gutters, topping bird nests, piled on defunct satellite dishes, and on orphaned water heaters, lying dead in the yards of rundown homes.
This morning, when I drove into town to run errands, I passed the train, clacking along. There was a thick sheet of snow clutching to the tops of Amtrak passenger cars, the boxcars, the centerbeam cars, hopper cars, coil cars, gondola cars, flat cars, tanker cars, well cars, and the rear diesel locomotive.
I drove past children attempting to make snow angels in their front yards. There wasn’t enough snow to make proper angels, their backsides were covered in mud and grass stains. But their little hearts were in the right place.
I saw a few more neighborhood kids, middle-school age, desperately attempting to make a snowman from the light cropping of snow on their sidewalks. Their snowman ended up being about the size of a few golfballs, and was more dirt than snow.
Later, I stopped at the Shell station to fill up. I met a homeless man named Robert who was huddled against the wall of the convenience store. His boots were insulated with plastic Publix bags and duct tape. His windburned face was wrapped with a moving blanket.
Robert told me he slept in the snow last night. The man’s breath could have killed a small mammal. Even so, I gave him cash because alcoholics need to eat breakfast just like anyone else.
There was snow covering the parking lot of the Baptist church, snow on the Methodist church playground, snow on the rooftop of an old Catholic chapel, snow on the Episcopal steeple, snow on the Church of Christ.
Oddly, there was no snow on the Presbyterian churches. I asked my friend, Charles, about this. He is a Presbyterian minister.
“It never snows on Presbyterian churches,” said the rev. “We don’t need snow. We’ve been fully frozen since 1807.”
I pulled into a fast-food breakfast joint to grab some cholesterol. The girl behind the counter was fiddling on her phone. She showed me a video from her cousin’s house in Huntsville. The video showed a single-wide trailer covered in a foot of snowfall, with kids romping outside, wearing Disney-print pajamas, lobbing snowballs at unsuspecting parents.
There was an older man in line ahead of me, also playing on his phone. He was a truck driver, wearing a New Orleans Saints ball cap. He told me he left Kentucky yesterday and had been driving all night.
“At about three in the morning,” he said, “I-75 was nothing but a whiteout. It was beautiful.”
He showed me a video on his iPhone to prove it. Which only led me to wonder: Why was a commercial truck driver operating an iPhone camera while careening 85 down the interstate in a snowstorm?
When I got home, the snow in central Alabama was already beginning to recede and the fun was over. The crust on our roof was melting in the sunlight. There was a steady drip coming from our gutters. Little chunks of ice occasionally fell from trees.
By noon, the Blessed Virgin was unencumbered by the snowfall of mankind, and the neighbor’s cat was booking accommodations in Florida.
A train whistle was sounding in the far off. Soon, the world was bright and lovely, and there was no evidence of snow whatsoever. The robins and northern mockingbirds were singing Gospel music. The sky was haint blue.
But I will always remember our first Birmingham snow.
Dru Brown - March 13, 2022 6:56 am
Pansies laugh at snow. Like Jamie.
oldlibrariansshelf - March 13, 2022 8:33 am
The time change awoke me so I have read your column much earlier than usual. Thank you for exhibiting such delight in the March snowfall. Your move will be blessed because your heart is open to be blessed wherever you are! ” . . I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4:11 KJV
oldlibrariansshelf - March 13, 2022 8:35 am
” . . . I have learned, in whatsoever state I am in, to be content.” Philippians 4:11 KJV
lindawalco - March 13, 2022 8:36 am
You aren’t in Kansas anymore, Toto. Everything you used to know is gone. You have moved to the opposite from whence you came – even noticing the color of the sky is different. Then comes the deep freeze leading into rain and temps back in the 70’s. Watch the news only for the weather and learn to layer. If you need some Jesus amidst the seasons, tune in to Gardendale First Baptist, the preacher may remind you of those potluck church preachers you talk about without having to drive to Fischer Creek to find one. I am saying a prayer for you and your family.
oldlibrariansshelf - March 13, 2022 8:37 am
The snapping of clock springs making the time change awoke me just now. Thank you for your delightful column about your March snowfall.
oldlibrariansshelf - March 13, 2022 8:45 am
The snapping of clock springs awoke me at the change of time this morning. I was delighted to find your column about how much you enjoyed your March snowfall. ” . . . I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4:11
May your move from Florida to Alabama continue to be blessed!
Tawanah Fagan Bagwell - March 13, 2022 10:51 am
It was a good snow for your first Alabama snow! I wish that it would snow in the daytime but, it was beautiful to wake up to.
chip plyler - March 13, 2022 10:59 am
…haint blue, it’s been a minute –
Ron Mahn - March 13, 2022 11:13 am
I grew up in Miami FL., came to OK to attend OU. I have now lived in OKC most my adult life. While not exactly the Promised Land, nor the Highlands of NC, OKC does occasionally offer snow! Because of the climate deprivations of my hometown, snow has been, and always will be, a precious commodity to me! We received here that same system the day before. I wondered if you would find it as exciting, and reassuring that Our Creator knows how to have fun, as I did the day prior!
Susan W Fitch - March 13, 2022 12:23 pm
I love this, y’all!
Joy jacobs - March 13, 2022 12:31 pm
We were visiting my parents in Birmingham years ago when it snowed. My kids used plastic trays as sleds.
Paul McCutchen - March 13, 2022 12:42 pm
Here in Central Georgia, if it did snow, the wind was blowing so hard it could have blown it into another state.
Donna from Iowa - March 13, 2022 12:56 pm
that was great welcoming gift to Alabama! Heavenly present
Shelton A. - March 13, 2022 1:45 pm
Glad you had your first snowfall. Y’all can keep it! Snowless in Jacksonville…God bless you, Jamie, and the muddy dogs.
Arnold Kring - March 13, 2022 2:17 pm
The snow didn’t wipe out your neighbor’s pansies. It was probably those dad gum rabbits. Have you learned to say “dad gum” yet? It will come in handy now that you’re in Alabama.
Kate - March 13, 2022 2:38 pm
I grew up in Florida, then went to Georgia for college. I saw my first snow that winter and was amazed as I watched the snow fall. It probably was not much and melted quickly but I will never forget the joy I felt as I saw it fall. Oh, the wonder of new things.
Cathy M - March 13, 2022 2:50 pm
The snow was a gift to you and Jaimie from all of those who welcome you to our city. Just wait, there’s more to come. A glorious spring filled with beautiful colors. You are going to love it❤️🌷🦋💐
Becky Lee - March 13, 2022 3:06 pm
You’ve had many “firsts” your first week in Birmingham. Bless you, Child! You’ve given me a ‘first”: orphaned water heaters…Oh, Lawd! What a gift you share with us who find joy and inspiration in your words. It’s a chilly forty-five degrees here on the East Coast of Central Florida this morning. Y’all are going to love Alabama! Although I’m a transplant since 1977, my heart is still there.
Mary Fentress - March 13, 2022 3:08 pm
I live in Goodlettsville TN. The snow for me is like God is telling us to slow down and to see what He can do. It is always very peaceful and warming for me. I love the feeling that God gives me when he gives us the snow.
Charlotte Virginia McCraw - March 13, 2022 3:47 pm
Snow!! It is magic!! Don’t we all become children when we see the first snowflake.
Leigh Amiot - March 13, 2022 4:28 pm
Love the exuberance in this column! Your comments on denominations always tickle me.
NancyB - March 13, 2022 5:23 pm
I love snow! ❄️❄️ So glad you and Jamie were able to expeience your first one in your new home! ❄️❄️ In mid-Missouri we are still dealing with the 6.7″ of snow we were blessed with on Friday. Temperture Saturday morning was 4° with wind chill of -9°. It was lovely coming down and the white covered world is still beautiful. However, they tell us temperatures today will reach the 50s so snow will soon give way to dirty slush and mud. But in this moment, I’m still enjoying a world blanketed in the lush beauty of snow. ❄️❄️
Heather Felt - March 13, 2022 5:39 pm
As a Minnesotan, it’s always fun to see snow through the eyes of someone who isn’t accustomed to it. But here, what you described in this piece, we just call Tuesday. May you find more magic and joy in your new home state!
Carol - March 13, 2022 6:04 pm
My Moments With Sean have become a very special part of my day! I find I’m looking for those little details, the kind you share that help to make the day a better day and perhaps the world a better place, at least for me….Thank you for your thoughtfulness..
MAM - March 13, 2022 6:10 pm
I grew up in far south Texas, where I remember one early morning when I was about 5 years old, my Daddy woke me up to bundle up and go outside to see snowflakes falling. The first and last I ever saw during my growing up years. But mostly I’ve loved every snowflake since during our travels far and wide and living in all the far flung places of this country and this Earth. Snow IS calming and the addition of snow makes God’s creation even more beautiful and it, too, enhances the human-created world.
BettyK - March 13, 2022 7:30 pm
Love this saying: Giving advice is like snow, the lighter it falls the harder it sticks! Enjoyed reading about your and Jamie’s first Birmingham snow!
BettyK - March 13, 2022 7:33 pm
Loved the beautiful snowflake also!
Linda Moon - March 13, 2022 8:27 pm
Snow and Jack London’s sled dog make me feel good. And I loved hearing about your first snow here in my neck of the woods. I needed some extra feel-good love today, so Sean of the South’s “Flurries” and Jamie’s laughter brought me some. Our Birmingham flurries leave quickly, but feel-good love doesn’t!
Becky+Souders - March 13, 2022 9:26 pm
Okay, I had to look up “haint blue.” Yup. Homeowner.
Patricia Gibson - March 14, 2022 1:25 am
It is a magical experience in the snow ❤️❤️
Slimpicker - March 14, 2022 3:26 am
Dear Sean, I can’t wait for you to write about the first time you experience rain in Birmingham. It’s like snow but wetter!
Debe Scott Naples - March 17, 2022 2:04 am
You got plenty of it today
CHARALEEN WRIGHT - March 27, 2022 10:29 pm