Rare snowfall won’t be soon forgotten

Published 12:43 am Sunday, January 20, 2008

History was made Saturday morning all across the Miss-Lou in tiny, delicate bits. The arrival of a strange, unfamiliar visitor marked the memories of young and old alike for years to come.

On the surface, it’s difficult to imagine why snow fascinates Southerners so much.

It’s just frozen bits of water, right?

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But it’s the rarity of snowfall in this part of the country that makes it so unique.

Snow in South Mississippi marks family photo albums so infrequently that the events almost become historic milestones of life.

Like the passing of a great historical event of international importance, snow in this part of the world is a generational marker.

As a native Mississippian, childhood photo albums of yours truly show two snowfalls of note.

My favorite of which was when I was probably only 2 or 3. I have no real memory of it beyond a single photograph.

In it, I’m bundled up to the hilt standing, almost propped up, next to a snowman that was almost certainly created entirely by my brother and sister.

Turn a few pages and I appear to grow — through birthday parties, school events and Christmas mornings. The years come and go with regularity as the pages of the album turn.

But see a glimmer of white, where you know it shouldn’t be, at the feet of the photograph’s subject for example, and the album viewer takes notice.

Yes, snow makes memories in South Mississippi.

Those magical milestones are not realized up north where snowfalls are as regular as August afternoon thunderstorms in the South.

On Saturday morning, a phone call woke me as Ryan Richardson from our advertising department called to make sure I knew about the snow and to make sure our newsroom folks — who generally work late and thus sleep late — knew about the white stuff.

After a quick shower and a cup of coffee I headed out the door, the roads were pretty quiet, but occasionally, you could find glimmers of activity.

As I pulled into Mammy’s Cupboard, the staff was in the side parking lot reveling in the moment and hurling a few snowballs at one another, too.

Brothers Colin and Marty Kemp, along with Lorna Martin, Carolyn Rymer and Benet Jeffery were taking in the beautiful sight of snow falling in the wooded area behind the restaurant.

Only occasionally did a snowball fly.

Over on Northampton Road, Peyton Wilson was seeing his first Natchez snow.

With his father David and mom Leigh Anne, Peyton frolicked in their front yard hurling a snowball at anything that moved.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Street, an elderly lady in a house robe videoed the scene from behind the comfort of a glass storm door.

By 10 a.m., motorists were slowly working their way through neighborhoods, the drivers clutching mugs filled with coffee or hot chocolate.

The people inside were peering out slushy windows to see the beauty of the blanket of snow.

Each moment, each snowman, each snowball and crunchy footprint created a memory of a single day that will forever be frozen in time.

From memories to videos to photo albums, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2008, will be a day of tiny milestones forever marked in our history.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.