My mother has a lot to say about the weather.
And having lived in Pennsylvania all her life, she has a lot to say in particular about Pennsylvania weather.
Go ahead. Ask her. I dare you.
And since she has very, very much to say on the topic of winter weather, I thought she might enjoy sharing her Polish-Lithuanian-Appalachian wisdom and experience regarding such matters with a wider audience.
Alas, my cell battery died somewhere in the beginning of the conversation, and my mom sounded like she was otherwise occupied doing something else anyway. I have no idea what. Maybe she had leaves to rake. Maybe she was shopping on QVC. Maybe she was on the other line with the President. My mom can be oddly secretive at times, so she could very well be part of some kind of CIA or Vatican deep cover. Operation Babushka.
I've talked enough to my mother about The Weather: Snow. Here's a conglomeration of all the snow/winter weather conversation we've had, and how they usually go:
Me: So Mom, right off the bat, what are your thoughts on that freak snow storm in October? Whew! Was that crazy or what?!
My Mom: Oh well, yeah, that was a lot of snow. But you remember that one October. That one when it was your dad's birthday?
Me: Uh, I think so. Tell me that story again.
My Mom: Oh, well! It was October 17, your dad's birthday. And your dad never missed a day of work, never even took a sick day.
Me: Never? Really?
My Mom: No, your dad always made it to work. He was working for PP&L out near Allentown back then. So, it's his birthday and there was an ice storm. On October 17. And the roads were so bad he couldn't get to work.
My Mom: Well, yeah, but Allentown didn't have any ice at all, so when your dad called to tell them, well you know what happened.
Me: No, remind me.
Me: Back before electricity.
My Mom: No! Now you're being silly. There was electricity. He worked for the electric company. No, but you didn't hear news right away like now. So there was an ice storm on October 17 and that's why after September 30, I always have to tell people that I might or might not be able to drive to see them depending on the weather.
Me: So after September 30 in Pennsylvania, prepare for snow.
My Mom: It doesn't happen too often, but that time it did. And now again. People should carry chains for their tires just in case.
Me: You put chains on your tires?
My Mom: You had to know how to put chains on. Didn't your father teach you how to do that before he let you drive?
Me: Maybe. I don't remember. I know I had to change a tire and drive a stick before he'd let me get my license.
My Mom: Chains are the best thing. We never had snow days at school. That snow would be up to your knees and you'd still hear the bus coming down Front Street in New Boston with the chains on the tires. We always made it down the Potsy (name of a ridiculously steep hill, littered with horseshoe turns) to Mahanoy City.
My Mom: No, not like today. There's a flake or two and no one has school.
Me: The bus drove downhill both ways in the snow, right?
My Mom: Yeah, both ways downhill. And you better not talk on that bus because you'd get it from the bus driver. There was no goofing off.
Me: So, does it snow more or less these days?
My Mom: I remember lots of snow up over the tops of the cars. We had big snowstorms back then. We still have big storms now, too. That township plow, with all that snow last time, you'd think they could plow up the alley instead of down. They keep blocking in my garage! How am I supposed to get out?
Me: I don't know. Can't you call the township and complain?
My Mom: Oh, I don't know. What are they going to do? If I see Jimmy across the street with the back hoe, sometimes I get him to move the piles of snow.
My Mom: I don't know why they do that, though. You'd think they'd see most of the garages are on one side of the alley and they wouldn't plow them all in.
Me: So, getting back to snow season in Pennsylvania...when is it safe to take the chains off.
My Mom: Oh, you can't drive in them all the time!
Me: I know, Mom.
My Mom: Those things are loud.
Me: Okay, so when does the snow end? When is there no risk of snow?
My Mom: I never plant anything in the garden until after Memorial Day. Just to be safe.
Me: Wow. Memorial Day. Really?
My Mom: Well yeah. There was that one Easter late in April. We were down Warminster at your cousins' house. But you know, that's further south so it's warmer there.
Mom: About 90 miles south-ish. More southeast.
My Mom: It's warmer there. The daffodils are out earlier. So, that Easter, we were driving back and after the mountain (Blue Mountain) we hit a blizzard. And later we called your grandmother and she didn't believe us. There was no snow near Philly.
Me: That's crazy. How come all these other Pennsylvania people don't believe you when there is this freak weather? You'd think that living in Pennsylvania, they'd know how kooky the weather can be.
My Mom: Yeah, but they don't live in the mountains. It's colder there.
Me: To be fair, the mountains are only about 1,800 feet or so where we live.
My Mom: Oh that's enough! You can see when we drive to your Aunt J's house in Harrisburg. In spring, we don't have the leaves on the trees yet, but down near Harrisburg, the leaves are out.
Me: Yeah, but that's the state capital. They pay higher taxes to have leaves earlier.
My Mom: Oh, go on with ya, it's the mountains. I don't care how much you pay taxes. It's still colder here. You're being goofy again.
Me: I guess. So, what about this "bread, milk, eggs" chaos that happens every time a storm approaches? Why does everyone in Pennsylvania go out and buy bread milk and eggs?
My Mom: That's so if you can't get to the store in a storm.
Me: I know, Mom, but why bread, milk and eggs? Why not hamburger, potatoes and Pepsi?
My Mom: Oh, I don't know. That's just the basics you need to cook.
Me: It's like everyone is getting ready for a French Toast party
My Mom: We made sure we had bread, milk and eggs long before there was French Toast. We used to just have bread, milk and eggs because that's what you needed to cook.
Me: What about potatoes? And cabbage?
My Mom: I don't know. You probably have those things, too, back then.
Me: So what do you think? Is it going to be a long winter with lots of snow this year?
My Mom: Well, don't ask the weathermen. They never get it right. All that doppler radar and satellites. They make everyone crazy with these storms.
Me: Not like in the old days.
My Mom: You know what the weatherman was back then? It was my Uncle Tony walking into the back yard, walking back in and saying, "Looks like it might snow."
Me: I love that story.
My Mom: Go on with ya. You're being goofy.