When a couple inches of snow cripples an entire city, a few of my northern friends snicker and shake their frozen heads. They don’t understand; so I’ll try to explain. Imagine that yesterday those two inches of snow turned all of Birmingham into an ice skating rink, and the cars are like people who have never strapped on a pair of skates in their life, and they are scared to death; because in this game when you fall you can’t get back up. You just lay there on the ice, and the guy approaching you starts flailing his arms, but he doesn’t know how to stop. And the pile grows.
My middle child Leandra went to school in Ohio and in this analogy she’s an experienced skater, but that’s little help when everyone else is sliding around on the ice. I was on the phone with her for hours acting as a GPS and giving her alternate routes when the roads were completely blocked. I couldn’t get her all the way home, but I got her within two blocks of my friend June Mays’s house, and she walked the rest of the way.
I met June at a Garden Writers conference, and I wrote an article about her garden for the September 2012 issue of Alabama Gardener Magazine, so I have lots of pretty pictures of June’s garden to add horticulture to this post while I do what I want to do, and thank all the people who are helping out in this emergency and pray for those who are still stuck.
Southerners may not know how to drive in the snow, but they sure know how to help a neighbor or even complete strangers. Leandra wasn’t June’s only house guest; she also took in a nice trucker from another state. And when my eldest daughter Monica learned there was a stranded motorist at the neighborhood coffee shop, she walked over and brought her back to spend the night. Then there were those guys in English Village who pushed cars up the hill to clear the road and directed traffic so everyone went one at a time. They instructed each driver before letting them go. “Get a running start. Go slow but steady, and don’t touch the brakes until you get to the top.” When Leandra got to the front of the line, I made her put me on speaker phone so I could thank them for helping my little girl get home safe. Without them, that hill would have been a parking lot. There are hundreds of stories like these. Neighbors helping strangers is what southern hospitality is all about. What southerners may lack in driving skills, they more than make up for with their big, generous hearts.
Note: All these pictures are from June’s gorgeous garden, and Monica took some of them.