Standing somewhere in between the Blue Runners and Trappey’s Butter Beans, a woman in Rouses asked me had I heard that wind gusts were supposed to reach 100 mph.
I was in the supermarket, like everyone else, buying provisions for an intended few days spent home due to sleet, freezing rain; and hopefully, snow, but mostly what’s expected to be an icy mess of local roads and bridges.
But I hadn’t heard that.
The lady continued her weather report: Her co-worker, a fellow teacher, had told her so. There was a look of worry on her face – and now mine. A woman nearby heard and chimed in, “Really?”
“I don’t know,” she said, “but that’s what I heard.”
We departed, all three of us more concerned than before.
While in the checkout line, the salesclerk surveyed my items — water, batteries, bread, milk, etc. She asked was I shopping in preparation of the bad weather. Cashier small talk, I gather, because it should have been obvious. The store was swarming with New Orleanians buying rations for “sneauxmaggedon,” a campy hashtag circulating in the social media universe of South Louisiana.
“Yes,” I answered.
“I wonder if my daughter is off from school,” she said, while ringing up items and handing bags to my son to be put into the basket. “What school does he go to?”
Before I could help it, I blurted out what I had heard earlier in the canned goods aisle.
The man behind me who was reaching for the divider to separate his purchases –three different types of beer, bell peppers and some sort of whiskey among other groceries — listened in disbelief. The man behind, the man behind me, heard too. And didn’t hesitate to recap what I said to those in the rear.
Had I just started a rumor?
I was imparting shoddy intelligence (can you really call this intelligence, though?) that was shared with me. I had no idea how true it was. I hadn’t verified this. I hadn’t researched it. I just opened up my mouth and repeated it. I had turned the forecast into an E.L.E. (extinction level event).
We know hurricanes here. Not snow storms. We, in south Louisiana, know how to hunker down. Fill up our gas tanks. Purchase candles. Pick up sandbags, and have a hurricane party.
We don’t have the skills to drive in cold weather and our infrastructure isn’t equipped to deal either. All we know how to do is wrap our pipes and let the faucet drip a pencil thin stream of water.
Last January, I got snowed in while visiting the Highlander Research and Education Center, a rural-based workshop center in east Tennessee just outside Knoxville in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. I’m a tropical girl. Snow is something I see on TV.
I was excited when the snow came down. I made my obligatory snowman and took my pictures for social media purposes. My snow experience was complete. Not quite.
Right at nightfall, a tree hit a power line. The lights went out. The retreat center uses a well system and the water ran out. So that meant no electricity, no heat, no water in freezing temperatures.
Whatever mythological properties I had assigned to snow began to wear off because five inches of snow wasn’t going to charge my iPhone or keep me warm.
Jack Nicholson’s “The Shining” immediately came to mind.
As I wait for the weather event to begin, here in New Orleans, for it to sleet, or freeze or snow, I know that we’ll be fine if we stay inside and hunker down.
And the wind gusts will not climb anywhere near 100 mph.
jewel bush, a New Orleans native, is a writer whose work has appeared in The (Houma) Courier, The Washington Post, The Times-Picayune, New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles Magazine, and El Tiempo, a bilingual Spanish newspaper. In 2010, she founded MelaNated Writers Collective, a multi-genre group for writers of color in New Orleans dedicated to cultivating the literary, artistic and professional growth of emerging writers. Her three favorite books are Their Eyes Were Watching God, The Catcher in the Rye, and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.