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Kent Bernhardt: The Great Blizzard of 2017

I  know we’re all thankful we survived last weekend’s inclement weather, or as many are calling it, “The Great Blizzard of 2017.”

Here in the south, we’re a little funny about the threat of snow and ice. Inject the word “flurries” into the forecast and you’ll start a stampede to the grocery store. And if you start talking about “several inches of snow,” you’ll be lucky if there’s a grocery store left after the populous tramples it.

We’re not as familiar with snow in the south, so we tend to treat it like an invading hoard of locusts instead of enjoying its beauty and wonder. In fact, most of us just wonder when it’s going to melt so we can return to the grocery store and buy more bread and milk.

A full twenty-four hours before last week’s storm began, I visited my local Food Lion just to pick up — and I’m not kidding here — some Cheerwine, pita chips, and red pepper hummus. I already had my ration of break and milk for the week. I needed my snacks.

Inside the store, the sight that greeted me shouldn’t have shocked me but it did.

I quickly noticed the produce section had been picked clean of — of all things — bananas. In sixty-one years of circling the sun I’ve never seen a grocery store run out of bananas.

I surmised the panicked public must have entered the store and headed straight for the first food item they saw. Those bananas never stood a chance.

I could imagine the conversations that took place during the Food Lion invasion.

“Bananas! Yeah Mabel, we’ll need plenty of those! Get about ten bunches — five for upstairs and five for our special underground snow bunker!” Hurry! That old lady over there is eyeing them too! Knock her out of the way if you have to! And don’t forget five jars of peanut butter!”

I quickly deduced that if the bananas had been so quickly obliterated from the face of the earth, there was little hope for the bread and milk section. I was correct.

In any southern grocery store in the hours before a snowstorm, you’ll find a depleted selection of bread that usually includes a few remaining loaves of lesser quality that the wild-eyed public left behind, presumably because they were considered defective in some sense.

Not this time.

The bread section was completely devoid of product, as though the shelves had just been delivered and were waiting to be stocked. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a little. In reality, two small loaves of the healthier multi-grain bread remained because in the south, we’d rather die than eat that.

We hate picking that grain out of our teeth.

The milk section of the store fared no better. Every item containing the word milk had been purchased and was now safely stashed in refrigerators and freezers all over the county. I would even swear some of the shelfing had been ripped out and taken from the store because it simply smelled of milk.

I hurried to the deli section. To my great relief, I discovered there was an ample supply of hummus to see me through the approaching apocalypse. I quickly purchased it, along with my Cheerwine and pita chips, and disappeared into the night.

I suppose there’s a reason approaching winter weather panics us so here in the south. There’s probably some survivalist instinct in our makeup that flares up when we drink too much sweet tea.

But one would think over time our panic would lessen and we would relax and enjoy snow for the wonderful example of God’s handiwork that it is.

One would be wrong. This is the south, and one should never forget that.

Kent Bernhardt lives in Salisbury.


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