All this day has passed watching small and growing sliders baste the pavement in front of 1016 Dean Drive on every sleddable conveyance their parents could provide, and including their bellies — everything from vintage sleds to baking pans. Behold, there is even one orange plastic, inflatable beach tube. The fastest vehicle of thrills seems to be a large piece of red plastic conveniently bent up at the front.

It is mid-afternoon now and already the shadows are spreading deeply, bluely and extended across our street. The children’s shouts are punctuated by screams; smaller people crying from the day-long effort of keeping up with older children; the exhaustion growing from snow mania; up and down…up and down again. These sounds create a memory heard today, which blends in the chorus of many previous generations.

Were I not in 2010, an individual of great age, I would have rushed to the basement and grabbed our ancient Flexi-Flyer, instead of turning on this computer and beginning a new chapter of a delightful and primate amusement. Ah, it is a matter of some note that our young parents have accompanied their offspring down from the ridges to the street, but do not behave like overgrown adolescents (as I took great joy in doing), to hit their bellies for the short trip down to the curve in the road.

The overall snow-ice surface has become more accommodating; a speedier flight. The kids have worn down the surface of the white track since early morning. Nature has provided just enough warmth to defrost, then immediately refreeze the mix. Sleet and snow, frozen, is called sprickle, a very dangerous source of fun. But what do we know in the South? No one can remember this much cold for so many days together.

I’m certain we won’t forget this snowy event for a long time. Though predicted and even touted for almost a week it eased in on the cat feet of twilight last evening; first sleet and rain, then a short snow. I missed the weather landmark by not looking out the window, but soon heard the wailing of sirens. Sprickle is the treachery of black ice with the pure, the night-brightener frosting of snow. It is a quick way to a broken limb; or to face death for one behind the wheel; a person surprised, sober and shocked, as he wraps his automobile around a tree in a barely lighted dawn.

Circumstance, that’s what this day brings; a Friday at that. Parents at home together with their eager youngsters and still involved pre-teens fighting the clock of inevitable thaw and no more sledding for perhaps years to come.

For others, residents of the curb; denizens of the train tracks in downtown Atlanta who have counted to the hours of one of the prolonged, coldest times in Atlanta’s history, mark the minutes by lamp light. Today came in with 15 degrees, and a chill factor of -6 degrees. No part of this day will reach above freezing. This will be the most frigid and miserably cold day experienced for nearly two weeks.
Outside the sounds grow less frequent; the shouts of challenge and joy on the same breath. When the thermometer quivers at 95 degrees Fahrenheit next summer who will remember?

Patsy Dickey

Patsy Dickey

Patsy Dickey is author of the novel "BellCat & PigBoy." She was born in Dade County Florida, and was reared in the mid-western traditions of Anderson, Indiana. Always given to Gothic dreams, she traveled back to her Southern roots on the engine of marriage to a native Atlantan; there she fell in love with Southern reality. From that rhapsody, and experiencing the South as an adult after World War II, she found Washington Street, the ancestral place of BellCat & PigBoy.