Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Holiday Reflection 3: Snow for Christmas

Folks who live in our area are very accustomed to something called HURRICANE SEASONIt begins on June 1st and ends November 30th every year.  It's not something that we fret over but we do stay stocked with the necessary items should the need arise such as flashlights, batteries, fresh water, canned food, lanterns, etc.  One of the things I am very grateful for is the fact that the need rarely arises.  And one of the main reasons for this gratefulness stems from September 21, 1989. 

His name was HUGO and he came through here with the intent of making his presence known LOUD AND CLEAR He also left a wake of destruction and devastation in his path that left people in shock.  Hubs and I packed up and took our daughters (we only had three of them at the time) to my grandmother's house in the upstate--3 hours north of here--where a Hickory Nut tree fell on the house.  No one was hurt and we believe it was because Grandmother and Granddaddy's house was built back when they constructed houses the right way without skimping on materials.  That tree barely cracked a rafter or two.  Amazing.  The NOISE it made, on the other hand, scared all of us half to death! Hubs and I looked out the door at one point and watched huge pine trees swaying back and forth like catapults in 65 mph winds.  Meanwhile, 3 hours south, the low-country was being beat to death by 135 mph winds.  Our house fared quite well.  The tree that fell did so across the back yard and the wind merely took off some shingles from the roof.  At the time, my mother and Hubs' parents lived on Sullivan's Island- one of the barrier islands around the Charleston area.  The only way onto the island in 1989 was the Ben Sawyer bridge--a swing span bridge- that someone did not secure and one end of it ended up in the water.  We had to take a boat to get over there and survey the damage.  My in-laws fared pretty well, mostly loosing insignificant things.  My mother however, lost everything due to an 8.5 foot water level in her house.  Interestingly, her refrigerator floated on it's back and our daughters' art work on the front was untouched. Many, many houses, unfortunately, ended up looking more like the ones in the following pictures and, our church at the time, which was completed flattened--we ended up putting up a HUGE yellow and white striped circus-like tent and having church in it until the new building was finished.

This house was picked up and dropped in the middle of the road by the winds.

Christmas 1989, lighting the Advent Wreath in our Church Tent

As December approached and our thoughts turned to the Christmas season, Hubs asked what I wanted for Christmas.  I told him that I wanted SNOW.  And we got it.  We got a lot of it!  AND, to this day, if you ask our daughters what their daddy got me for Christmas that year, they will reply: "SNOW!"  Even the youngest who did not arrive until 1991 knows how her dad got the snow for me that year. (No wonder they think he can do anything! Heck, so do I!).

My mother-in-law (Irene Nuite Lofton) wrote a little book of poems chronicling the months following HUGO.  She titled the book: THE BROKEN BRIDGE

Here is one about the Christmas snow that year:


Snow predicted for tonight,
if freezing temperatures hold
we will have a record white

all is overlaid
by a white coverlet
of softly falling snow.

The scars left
by a devil storm--
rutted wounds in the driveway
dark, broken cedars in the yard,
bulwarks of rotting debris
left by shrieking wind
and rising tide,
lie newly transformed
into mysterious blue-shadowed
mounds and hillocks
of gently sloping snow.

the eve of Christmas Eve,
the children will be out
trailing laughter,
tumbling from warm indoors
into the blue-white cold
building snowmen
with icicle noses and old felt hats.
The children and the snow together
will lift our hearts.

One more, if you will indulge me.  This one was written before the Christmas snow:


I am not ready
for the bustle of Christmas.
I long to have back
the days of fall.

I long to have back
our Indian summer
when sun lay golden
on the marsh
and the days were soft
with autumn.

A month of storm
has intervened
to interrupt
the gradual waning
into winter from fall.

I look at the calendar
and see winter days approach
and feel cold
creeping in at every crack.
But I still long for fall.

I would hold back the days of November.
I am not ready for December.


  1. Wow! Living in the Uk we just get used to grey wet days. You don't tend to think too much about the devastation that Hurricanes can cause. THis was a really interesting post and I love your poems. We actually had loads of snow last year for the first time in decades and everyone got very excited at first but by day four we were all moaning and wanted the rain back - Brits eh? What a miserable bunch!

  2. I am glad Hugo didn't do anymore damage to your home, than it did.

    We contend with tornadoes in the spring and early summer and usually have a freezing rain or two over the winter months....which knocks out our electricity for several days (because we live in the country). So we try to stay reasonably prepared. Still, I am thankful we don't live in an area where we could experience hurricanes or earthquakes....okay, we do have an occasional earthquake, but not very strong.

    Every area has it's own set of weather problems to overcome, uh?

    Your mother-in-law is/was a very talented lady!

    I hope you are having excellent weather today!


  3. Cannot imagine living through that kind of devastation and shear terror!! Living in central Texas I don't think much about them because we have so many false alarms. I hope I don't live to regret it!

  4. Because you have such an amazing blog that I love to come and visit, I have picked you for a "Stylish Blogger Award". Just link back to me to see how to Pay it Forward.

  5. Down here on the Texas coast, we cope with hurricanes from time to time too. We had a once-in-a-lifetime miracle snowfall on Christmas Eve of 2004.

    I really love your mother-in-law's poem "I Would Hold Back November." Poignant and beautiful!

  6. I've always wondered how folks deal with the ongoing threat of hurricanes. You're strong folk!

    I, too, would like nothing more than to hold back the days of November. Your mother-in-law put it so eloquently!

  7. Ahh the hurricane season. We have our hurricane preparedness kit all ready. Hope we don't ever have to use it. I love that it snowed! I am originally from N.J. and have lived through my share of blizzards. Not Fun! I love your poems, and would secretly like to try my hand at one. Thanks for stopping by my site, have a great day-

  8. Great post Pam! We were so tired of seeing dead trees and trees with no leaves, we decided to go North for the Holidays so we could see snow! Do you believe we missed the whole Christmas snowfall here! So glad we have escaped another year with no storms. Have a great weekend, Nan

  9. What beautiful poems your MIL wrote ... I especially like the "I Would Hold Back November".

    How wonderful that your daughters' art work on the refrigerator was untouched. I think, as a grandmother, that would have been the final straw. The house and its possessions could all be replaced (not without great trouble and expense, not to mention time and anxiety), but little ones' artwork can never been replaced.

    Your post reminds me that while the Low Country's beaches are BEAUTIFUL, they're aren't always idyllic.


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