- Nancy Simpson
- Nancy Simpson's LIVING ABOVE THE FROST LINE, New and Selected Poems was published by Carolina Wren Press (N.C. Laureate Series, 2010.) She is the author of ACROSS WATER and NIGHT STUDENT, State Street Press, still available on WWW at Alibris and Books Again. Her poems have been published in Southern Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, The Georgia Review and other literary magazines. "Carolina Bluebirds" was published in THE POETS GUIDE TO THE BIRDS, Anhinga Press). "Grass" was reprinted in the 50th Anniversary Issue of Southern Poetry Review: DON'T LEAVE HUNGRY ( U.of Arkansas Press.) Seven poems were reprinted in the textbook, SOUTHERN APPALACHIAN POETRY,(McFarland.) Two poems were published in SOLO CAFE, Two more poems were published in SOLO NOVO."In the Nantahala Gorge" was published in Pisgah Review. "Studying Winter" was reprinted in Pirene's Fountain Anthology and "The Collection" in Collecting Life Anthology. Most recently, Southern Poetry Review Edited by James Smith, published "Our Great Depression," and The Southern Poetry Anthology Vol. VII: NORTH CAROLINA,Edited by William Wright, reprinted "Leaving in the Dead of Winter."
Thursday, March 4, 2010
The Weather in the Southern Appalachian Mountains
Snow March 2, 2010
As someone who has been in or near the Southern Appalachian Mountains since 1961, I'm as frustrated as anyone else by this particular winter. Snow in December, Snow in January, Snow in February, Snow in March. I've been snowed in so far this year more times than I can count, twice for eight days each time. I'm snowed in today from the snow that fell March 2. I have not experienced anything close to this since the winter of 1978 when people died in their cars in Buffalo, New York. That year was hard for me here in the mountains. I had to move to the valley for six weeks so that I could get to the old school house to teach. Most of the people here have jobs and have to go to work. You can't tell your boss, "Sorry, I live on the north side of the mountain, I'm iced in, I can't get to work, See you next spring."
In 1978, my sister and I left our cabins on the mountain and moved down to the valley to live with my mother for six weeks. Later, knowing we had to be better prepared, we bought our mother's house and built on to it, adding a big living room two perfectly equal bedrooms with an adjoining bath. It seemed that is what we needed to do at the time, to take care of our mother and to get ourselves to work in the wintertime.
Winters settled down. Winters came and went without even a sprinkle of snow. We were not snowed in much while living in the valley. Our house faced south and our road was one of the second roads scraped if it did snow. It might snow in December but not in January or February. It might snow in March and melt by noon. The most usual seemed to be one big snow in January, maybe. But, it hardly ever snowed. Slowly we forgot how bad a winter can be here in the Southern Appalachian Mountains.
The biggest challenge during those years was the Blizzard of 1993. That was an inland hurricane that killed over 200 people from Florida to Canada. I was living alone in the valley house at the time. I'll never forget that winter. I was without electricity for 7 days. The county did not scrape my road until the sixth day. There was no electricity. When the road was finally cleared and I got to the store, the shelves were empty. No bread. No milk. It was quite startling. I looked like a bum, wrapped in layers of clothes. I wanted a warm bath. I was looking for lamp oil in a small store and suddenly I saw shelves filled with Easter baskets. Easter Baskets!I started laughing and saying, "It's over." That day, I went by a restaurant and bought myself a huge take-out dinner and went home to a still dark house and ate. I knew the blizzard was over. I took great joy when they used phrases like , "Storm of the Century" and I told myself I would never see another one like it. Finally winter was over. The electricity came on after being out for ten days in some places.
I'm finding a need to put into perspective what it is like to live in the Southern Appalachian Mountains in winter. People are moving here in droves. There is no depressed market. Everything with a for sale sign sells. What is it? I don't know. The last frontier. Paradise. People are moving here. Some newcomers may be having second thoughts after this cold winter.
What I've learned in the long years of my life is that one winter is not like the last. You cannot say what winter will be. Old timers have ways of predicting that seem to hold true, but I remember one winter when the woolly worm was everywhere, crossing the roads in great number, and old timers said it would be a bad winter, but it was not bad at all. A lot depends on whether or not you have a warm house, back up gas logs or if you only have a small electric heater and the power goes out.
Most people go about their business, do their work, come home at night and snuggle in. I wish I could give you the record for this winter,but what I recall is that we have had sub freezing temperatures almost every night since 2010 began. I don't have the facts but I know of at least ten people who had their pipes freeze because they forgot to leave the water dripping
the third night. By the way, this would be a good night to let the water drip. It's 40 degrees at 12:46 pm but will be in the twenties tonight.
This winter is almost over. I'll be one happy woman to celebrate the precipitation of snow, to celebrate our refreshed water table, and I will be blissfully happy to see spring come once again to the mountains.
"Glad you could stop by.
Stay and have a bite to eat."
" Hi. Yeah. I'm glad I didn't have to drive that road."
March 4, 2010, Proof of Life. Rhododendron have set their buds. Jonquils are coming up.