Strange Southern Thing: Snow and Stars

It snowed this week. Not enough to stick, or to let kids out of school early, but enough to keep people off of the roads at night. The snow covered the roof and hung in the bush-branches.

Alaska snow is large and fluffy, maybe not always, but that’s how I remember it. The snow flakes would float down like forest spirits and land on your coat. They were as big as a thumbnail and as thick as lace. You didn’t need a microscope to see the branching patterns.

Alabama snow, on the other hand, is usually small and vaporizes the moment it touches anything. You don’t really get to experience it as snow unless it builds up over a few days of heavy snow and freezing temperatures, which usually doesn’t happen. So Alabama snow is more of an especially mean winter rain.

But this week the snow here in Alabama was a bit different. It looked like, well, DippinDots.

These little balls of snow-stuff started falling, and they bounced all around the yard.

And watching this weird snow reminded me of Stars Fell on Alabama, the old book that my history buff friend showed me back in undergrad. He told me that the book was about this big meteor shower that fell in Alabama, and that afterwards everyone was very proud of the event. They liked to brag about it, and would tell northerners that the stars falling on them had made them so strange.

A few years ago this motto was on the license plates for the state. And I loved having this phrase replace the “Heart of Dixie” slogan. I imagined all of these people in Alabama proudly driving around, knowing they were weird and being okay with that.

I am trying to honor this weirdness in my writing. Trying not to write characters that I think everyone would be comfortable meeting. Because those aren’t the people I know, and they aren’t the ones I want to live with on the page.

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