Staff Spotlight: Year in and Year Out, Editor Leslie Criss Holds Out Hope for Snow

Written by Leslie Criss

For as far back as I can remember, I have loved snow. I’m unsure from where this adoration came, but it’s as real as my affinity for Crayola crayons, books, good music and dogs. I simply cannot help it.

In my childhood hometown of Grenada, it snowed quite often — and there is concrete proof. Some of the first photographs taken of me, in living black and white, are of a barely toddling Leslie, lifted high by my mama or my grandmother or my dad. We are in the huge yard beside my paternal grandparents’ wonderful old house in Grenada. The trees and the ground are oh-so-white, covered in at least a couple of inches of powdery snow.

I’ve spent more hours wishing for snow than I’ve spent playing in it, but some of my most wonderful childhood memories are of snow days.

Bundling up in layer upon layer of clothing, until I was barely recognizable. Building snowmen. Blasting my little sister with firmly packed snowballs until she headed for the house to tattle. Staying out in the winter wonderland until I surely wasn’t far from frostbite. Going into a warm house for hot chocolate and snow ice cream — and a quick thaw — before starting the process again.

When I was a kid, if snow was predicted, I’d sleep with my dad’s boxy, silver and black portable radio under my pillow. The local station signed off at midnight, but when I stirred well before the crack of dawn with a sore neck, the radio was still under my pillow. And if I was lucky, there was enough juice left in its batteries to hear what I’d longed for: “No school.”

But I knew it had snowed before it was ever announced. I knew before I ever peeked outside to see our yard awash in white. I knew because I heard it.

I’d lie there listening for the sound of snow. There’s a muffled silence when it’s snowy outside — and only the infrequent rumble of a motor when the occasional vehicle ventures slowly down the street.

I stopped believing in weather prognostications long ago, after snow was predicted in Vicksburg. So hopeful was I that I went out and bought six or seven boxes of rock salt for my sidewalk and steps. All for naught.

When I left Vicksburg after seven years and moved to Tupelo, guess what it did in Vicksburg? Yes, indeed. It snowed deeply and beautifully.

I learned a long time ago not to trust any meteorologist’s predictions, because I had my own weather prognosticator close by. When my father said the predicted snow was not actually coming, it didn’t. But when he said, “Leslie, I believe we are going to get some snow,” we did.

He also told me if it snowed anywhere in the state, it would always snow in Oxford. Yet, for the nearly two years I spent in graduate school at Ole Miss, not a single flake fell.

Each year as winter approaches, I try to convince myself I don’t care anymore whether it snows or not. Honestly, at my age, my bones and joints would be much happier if the temperature stayed well above 65 degrees all year long.

But in my heart, I’m a snow lover. I can’t help it. It’s simply who I am.

Several years ago, I awoke to my first white Christmas, and it was one of the best days ever. We’ve had a few snowfalls in the past few years, including the beautiful dusting we received last winter, which Invitation Magazines’ fabulous photographer Joe Worthem captured so well.

Still, those annual snowfalls on which I could count are no more. And while I won’t go into global warming in this space, something has surely happened to winnow down our wintry flakes, at least here in northeast Mississippi.

So, when there’s any talk of a possible flake or flurry falling, folks like me take heart. We get excited. We let ourselves hope.

And if the snow that’s been predicted falls north, south, east and west of where I am here in Tupelo, I will weather that disappointment.

Because I love snow.

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