Sparkling, snowy stuff stirs memories

Red berries, a flash of color sitting on a branch, or a sweater of crimson always stand out more against a pure white landscape.

In and around Lawrence County people woke up to a silence only heard on a snow day. In Moulton, it started coming down in the form of ice in the early morning hours, but by daylight the snow had started its magic transformation of gray woods, brown grass and black tree trunks to works of art etched in white. As it continued to fall in large, fluffy flakes, children of all ages donned seldom worn snow gear and headed outside.  

For some, like Isabella Goodwin and her little sister, Blakely, Monday’s snow was an entirely unexpected surprise. The little girls bundled up and headed out early, making all kinds of little girly sounds, squeals and laughter and pure bliss at the wonderland they discovered in their backyard. For Blakely, two, who had never seen snow before it was a remarkable experience. She’d been looking everywhere for Santa since Christmas, but hadn’t been able to find him. Her first words when she saw the snow were, “Ho Ho?” and she started looking everywhere but never caught a glimpse of the Old Gent’, even though she seemed to think that this was just one more of the gifts he’d left her. 

In Mount Hope the snow was a good excuse for the Gillespie family to introduce the newest member of the clan to the white stuff. Eric and Karla Gillespie have an almost brand new baby, Ellie Wren, just three months old, and an older daughter, Mattie Rae, who loved playing in the snow. Ellie Wren might have slept through the whole event had her mom not insisted that she needed a picture beside Mattie Rae’s snowman. The abrupt change from warm Mommy to cold snowman caused her to voice her discomfort to all who would listen. She was soon whisked up into the arms of her Aunt Keri, where she promptly fell asleep again. 

In Chalybeate Springs, Jamie Mize couldn’t wait to get outside to explore her yard and see her dogs as they played in the soft snow. Jamie has always loved snow. She and her sister, Kelley, and brother, Brannon, often had snow battles until their mom, Peggy, called them in for fear of frost bite. Jamie and her dogs played until they showed signs of being ready for a warm blanket and some snuggle time in front of the fireplace. 

Kathy Thrasher sat in her sunroom looking out over her transformed garden when flashes of red started appearing in the hedge just outside her big windows. “I’ve never seen so many Cardinals!” she exclaimed. Kathy, who also lives in Chalybeate Springs, watched the birds, their crimson plumage the only shots of color in an otherwise white world, as they foraged among her flower stalks and some nearby underbrush. As she watched, her mind wondered back to her childhood when her dad, Wiley Hollis, would sit patiently and point out the places where rabbits nestled unseen underneath the snow. “He would show me where the steam from their breath came up through the snow,” she recalled fondly. “Sometimes he would sit with me at the kitchen window, me in the sink, and he would run a string through the window, tied to a stick. He used the stick to hold up a galvanized wash tub, crumble of bread and put it underneath the tub and come back in the house.”

“I would sit for what seemed like hours and pull the string when the birds would go under it after the bread crumbs,” she recalled. 

“One time when it snowed I had the measles,” said Kathy. “Of course I couldn’t go out so my sister, Peggy, opened a window so that I could watch them playing in the snow.”

Before long Kathy was hanging out the window, laughing and calling out to the older kids. “Mother came in and caught me and Peggy got in big time trouble!” she laughed. 

“We used to get bigger snows,” Kathy mused. “I remember them calling them snow drifts, and they would be over our heads. We didn’t have snow shoes so Mother would put bags over our shoes. Our hands would get so cold that it’s a wonder we didn’t get frost bite! I can remember how they tingled when we came in and put them up close to the heater, it hurt so bad when they started to warm up! ” 

Her nephew, Brannon Mize, once sneaked his dad’s leather house slippers out of the house, “He put them on so that we could pull him around the yard with the Gator. He ‘skied’ all over the place that day!” she laughed. 

Her husband, Ronald Thrasher grew up in the Harmony community, just down the road from where Kathy lived. He recalls riding horses in the snow and hitching them to ground sleds and riding for hours in the snow. He also remembers hunting birds and rabbits with a slingshot that he called a flip. 

At the Hatton home of their grandparents, Wyatt and Wylan Tidwell enjoy the solitude of their cabin in the snow.  Snow just makes everything better. It’s also a treat to have a snow day every once in a while. The boys have all kinds of adventures on the deck of their cabin, from riding the high seas to visiting the North Pole. Today was a good day for that trip! The seven year old cabin was designed by their grandmother, Melissa, and built by her husband, Steve Harrison and her brother in law, Tim Parker. Wyatt and Wylan are the sons of Patrick and Lauren Tidwell. 

Doris Sockwell Craig enjoyed the snow from the warmth of her home in the Cave Springs Community. She found a good angle to show off the bones of her winter garden, always made sharper and more defined by the snow. 

She loved waking up to the snow, looking out and seeing the beauty of it still falling gently all around her. “I am like a kid when it comes to snow,” she admitted. “It is so magical!”

She had an appointment in Moulton that afternoon to get her vaccine. “They were very organized and my arm is barely sore,” she said the next day. “I urge everyone to please make an appointment for your COVID-19 vaccine; the virus is just raging in Lawrence County!”

Due to the weather, her son, Mark, drove his mom and her cousin, Barbara Martin, to get their shots. They all enjoyed what was left of the snow and being together. Barbara Martin is always fun to be around so they all laughed a lot. “It was a good day!” said Doris.

When his first barn burned in 1936, Leonard Roberson of Mt. Hope, had Mr. Glenn Smith to bring a saw mill to the farm and cut all the lumber for the new one on the property. His great -granddaughter, Anna Hopkins, says that several different people in the community came together to help build it back. “He had enough insurance on the first barn to cover the tin for the roof on the new one,” she said. “It has many stalls for mules and horses, has a corn crib, hay storage and many uses.”

Rory Harville enjoys being outdoors and loves feeding birds in the snow. Rory recalls that in the mid 1960s a rare but deep snow fell on the world that he knew as a small boy. “The quiet of the night was odd and spooky at the same time, it was broken up by a streak of silent lighting and the sound of rolling thunder, like there was a battle of two giants that couldn’t be seen above the low clouds.” 

At daybreak, Rory ran to the old potbellied heater. 

“I could glimpse through windows, that had just as much ice on the inside, as they did on the outside that all of Chalybeate Springs had been covered in white. With two pairs of socks on my feet and one pair on my hands, I went out to see the results of the unseen battle. The sun was so bright on the white snow I could hardly see,” he reminisced.  

He spied a speck of grey sitting on a tree, it caught his attention. 

“I went into my stalking stance and I crept up from behind with the wind in my face, just like my daddy had taught me. Over the unleveled ground, I would take a peek as I got closer and closer. I could see now that it was a dove, just sitting on the cold snow and facing the yellow winter sun.

The snow glittered and sparkled like white gold and I was about to catch me a treasure!” 

“I could hear my own heartbeat as the tension welled up inside me. Finally, I was close enough.

I made my move like our old orange cat, with both hands I grabbed the dove, expecting to be bitten or at least scratched.” 

But there was nothing. 

“After holding on tight for a minute, I realized that the dove was frozen stiff,” he said. 

“Her eyes were opened and her feet were buried in her belly feathers, but she was dead,” he lamented. “She was one of the most beautiful birds I had ever seen, but she was gone.” 

“Somehow, in the middle of the night, she had left her roost, and it caused her death,” he explained.  

The little boy was shocked. “I didn’t understand. Even today, I don’t understand how the little birds survive the cold, wet, winter nights. Somehow, they survive. 

The One who cares for the sparrows, is the One who cares for me, that’s why I feed them in the snow.”

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