News clips of snowy landscapes on Groundhog Day mean little to residents of the Gulf Coast. As an expat, I can attest to having never seen a coastal groundhog—roadkill or otherwise—and to having witnessed just two revered occasions of snow flurries in my time there.
Awakening to snowy ground this morning, knowing myriad groundhogs in the neighborhood doing the same will be heralding an early spring, reflects the enchantment of living in the Far North of the Deep South.
As kids, summer excursions from the coast to Clingman’s Dome, the Mount Pisgah Inn, or the canyon at DeSoto Falls were preferred to dutiful family visits to East Texas, West Tennessee, or nearby New Orleans. Mountain vistas and crisp, refreshing air felt new and exhilarating. For us, this was the great, far north. Well, for the least adventurous one of us, anyway.
Slaloming down the pristine slopes of Dauphin Island’s once-enormous sand dunes was as close as our tribe came to ski trips. Towering pines along the downhill limited traverse and certainly jump turns. [Still your eco-heart. The trek up combined with the kid-to-waterski ratio lessened repeat runs. Frederick and Katrina took those dunes.] Playing in the waves on the island’s Gulf side had far more appeal at that age, as did the après-ski snow cones from the island’s west end.
For those of us who grew up where most of the foliage is evergreen and season changes are almost imperceptible, where the insect population is constant and humidity levels are palpable, the notion of frosty mornings and autumn leaves would be realized only in our travels.
Having been a Georgian longer than I’ve lived anywhere else, and more than half of that time here in the North Georgia Mountains, I would like to share some of this glorious experience through posts to the Georgia Mountain Journal. Over time, the blog should fill with insights on these lovely communities, some special events, local adventures, and history, while featuring the fascinating people who brighten these mountains and valleys. Until then, may your groundhogs be few—as they tend to plunder gardens, even those with wire fencing buried at the perimeter—and your winter mornings sunny.