Winter in Lucedale... Ready for Spring!

We had the Gulf States Horticultural Expo last week in Mobile amid some of the craziest winter weather we’ve had in quite a while. Despite the ice and sleet we had, the show was pretty busy – as is evidenced by our somewhat truncated availability list. But don’t worry, we’ll be loaded for bear after a spring flush.

It all started Sunday before last as I was piddling around in the woods when I got a text message alert about an impending winter storm. It was clear and 60 degrees or so at the time so it was hard to believe we were going to get ice and snow within 48 hours. I have learned from past experience not to discount these weather alerts no matter how absurd they seem at the time. Although, I must confess, I’ve had a lot more experience with hurricanes than with snow.

The following day, Monday, we shucked all the shadecloth off the greenhouses that had it so the predicted snow load wouldn’t flatten them. When you live this far south building overwintering structures to withstand snow constitutes overkill. Even then, less than 24 hours before the weather was supposed to turn, we were working in tee shirts in complete comfort. I must admit that while we were working I was beginning to wonder if the weather gurus might miss this one. At that time they were still forecasting rain by daybreak Tuesday, turning to sleet during the day and finishing off as snow, maybe even 3 or 4 inches, which is about as close to blizzard conditions as we ever get on the gulf coast.

As it happened, the forecasters weren’t completely right, but they weren’t completely wrong either. We never did get our expected rain or snow, we got sleet. It started out as sleet and it finished as sleet, and we got as much of it as I’ve ever seen. I’m sure you saw the news reports from Birmingham and Atlanta, just as I did. It was a mess here as well, we just have a lot fewer people to foul the roads with, and a three-car traffic jam doesn’t exactly bring the news crews running.

Incidentally, one of the more interesting reports I saw from Birmingham was of lower elementary schoolchildren having to spend the night in the classroom with their teachers. This arrangement has subsequently caused my wife, a kindergarten teacher herself, to awaken in the night shrieking in terror and soaked in sweat at the idea it could someday happen here. She genuinely loves her students, but I think she’d need Valium to make it through a night with all 26 of her little sweeties. I’d need something substantially more potent than that.

As for the GSHE, the golf tournament that accompanies it was cancelled, which came as a surprise to no one. At this point in my life I can think of a number of things I’d rather do than play golf, even when the weather is fine. It would’ve been as miserable as deer hunting to try to grind out 18 holes when it was cold and wet, or in this case, icy. Like all good Mississippi State fans, about all I can say for the golf tournament is… wait till next year.

The drive over to the show on Thursday morning was quite a bit hairier that I’d expected it to be. We waited until about 8:30 to head over (it’s only about a 45 minute drive from here to the convention center in Mobile), thinking everything would be thawed by then. It wasn’t. The first bridge we came to is the one over the Escatawpa River on Hwy. 98 and it was pretty much a sheet of ice. I’d driven my truck, which has 4-wheel drive, just in case and I was glad I did. We made it safely over that bridge and the next two, although we did it at a snail’s pace.

The excitement came when we started across the overpass at Semmes. A little red BMW just ahead of us began to slide sideways and then went into compete loop-to-loops, or however that’s supposed to be spelled. He wasn’t going all that fast but, totally out of control, he slid over into the westbound lanes and came to an eventual stop. To my great relief, and his too I’m sure, all the westbound traffic was stopped at the light at the bottom of the overpass. Although it turned out to be a non-event it scared me just to watch it happening. I’m sure that poor guy was puckered up tight when he realized he’d lost all control of the situation and was, for all practical purposes, just along for the ride.

I’m not sure how this extra cold winter we’re having will affect spring sales, but I’d be willing to bet that when we do finally get some spring-like weather it’ll break things wide open. If you’re from Wisconsin it’s laughable to even suggest we might suffer from cabin fever down here. But I’ve had just about enough of this cold, wet, nasty weather, and everybody else I’ve talked to feels the same way. I think that unless the weather is really screwy all the way ‘til May we’re going to have the best spring we’ve had since’07. I’m just going to have to remind myself not to complain when it gets hot again.

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