Snow Days and Ice and Everything Nice

Basking in the sunlight by the pool all day, surrounded by palm trees… that was my life dream, had you asked me 15 years ago. I was fed up with snow and cold and wearing layers of clothing – the things I’d always put up with as a kid in Colorado. This was why I moved first to Arizona, and later to Texas: to escape cold weather.

My Dallas cousins told me that winter storms happen in Texas only once every other year. Of course Dallas gets its share of natural disasters (tornados, floods, fracking-induced earthquakes), but the lack of snow enthralled me. As someone who regularly mountain biked through blizzards to get to work, that sounded like a warm little dream.

Sledding with the family dog in my youth

Fast forward to my first winter in Dallas, back in 2013. I woke up on a Thursday morning to a text from my boss saying it was a snow day. A snow day?! I hadn’t had one of those since I was a kid! I can actually quite vividly recall the two snow days I had growing up, because they were such rare and special occasions. My friends and I built an igloo and filmed movies about Russian spies.

Posing with my family during a rare and exciting snow day in Colorado

In Colorado it’s very difficult to get a snow day. People are expected to have snow tires and boots, and cities plow and salt the streets. But now here we were in Texas, where people refuse to buy boots or jackets and just won’t learn to live in the cold. Every business shuts down when there’s snow or ice… which at this moment in my life seemed crazy cool. No work! Woohoo!

What happened next was something I had never experienced: an ice storm. No snow, just ice. Raindrops fell and then immediately froze, coating the world in a thin gloss. I had never seen anything like it: delicate tigs and leaves glistened like glass artwork. It was absolutely fasincating.

My then-husband Hector and I were excited to wander around and witness this lovely natural wonder. We donned our ice cleats and mittens and took the dogs outside to play. We only got as far as the complex parking lot before noticing several neighbors in need. For various reasons, they had ventured out to their ice-covered cars – but were woefully ill prepared to be doing so. They were dressed in thin T-shirts, lacking gloves, slipping and sliding in tennis shoes.

I attempted to be helpful by pulling up a fallen neighbor and advising them to invest in a pair of rubber traction cleats ($6 at Walmart). We saw another guy holding a skrewdriver to his windshield, a hammer in his other hand.

“Woah!” exclaimed Hector. “You’re gonna break the windshield!”

“Oh… well how do you get the ice off?” the neighbor asked.

Hector patiently explained how to turn on the defrost in the car and then scrape the ice of the glass. What a lucky idiot that we were there to stop him from breaking his car! Afterwards we laughed about how clueless Texans could be when it came to cold weather.

You’re probably thinking right now that I sound like an uppity jerk that had it coming. And God must have thought the same thing. By Sunday the ice still hadn’t melted, but we decided to drive to church. Well, it turns out driving in ice is pretty different from driving in snow. Hector, overly confident, turned into the parking lot just a little too quickly. Next thing you know, we crashed head-on into the corner of the church. Luckily, nobody was around to see and the building was perfectly fine. But our car had a dent in the hood… and all for nothing, because the service had been canceled anyway.

Guess that’s what I get for making fun of Texans.

Later that winter, we got word that another ice storm was expected. School and work was canceled, and everyone stocked up on food. I awoke the next day to… a perfectly sunny, 60 degree day. No snow or ice in sight. The weather people were wrong, but it was too late to change the forecast. You can’t un-cancel school once you’ve already announced a snow day!

Remember how my cousins told me an ice storm hit Dallas about every other year? Well every winter I waited for another… and waited and waited, until over 6 years had passed without Dallas getting iced. I wanted to see the pretty glazed trees again, and an excuse to get a free day off work. But I also began to crave cold weather. I gazed longingly at my snow boots and ski jacket, which were gathering dust at the back of my closet.

If my cousins were to be believed, Dallas was long overdue for cold weather storms. And then all those years of dry winters finally came to a screeching halt in 2021. The precipitation had built and built, and now we were about to face… a Snowpocalypse!

To be continued…

All photos my own. Check out the Boose on the Loose podcast on Spotify for more stories about nature and adventures in outdoors and travel.

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