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Snow is nice; ice is ugly
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When I was a kid in Social Circle, our town doctor used to make an ice sculpture of sorts when it got really cold.

Dr. Barton would take some tree limbs, arrange them in an interesting pile and turn on the water hose. The ice would form over the limbs and it made an interesting ice show.

I saw that scene repeated way too often in the past few days.

There is something picturesque about water freezing on trees. Then, they start falling over power lines and knocking out the services we consider vital. The beautiful ice sculpture turns ugly really fast.

On the night of the ice storm, I stood out on the porch and heard the sound of creaking and cracking limbs in almost every direction. It is not a pretty sound. It is the weather equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard.

I went out West a couple of winters ago and saw the deep drifts of snow around Park City, Utah. It was beautiful.

Snow is pretty but ice is not. Ice breaks limbs, some on trees, and others on people.

Ice also is mysterious. You may not see ice until your feet have slid out from under you. A moment later, the ice is cooling you where you sit. It is not nice.

Snow does an airbrush accent to trees. You want to grab your camera and go outside and take a picture. It gives the roof of your house a lovely white finish that makes it look all cozy, especially when a steady puff of smoke is coming out of the chimney.

Snow makes people happy. Kids love to go outside and play in it. Playing in the snow is just plain fun.

Ice makes people angry, especially when the lights go out. I know this by reading their lovely comments on the Internet. That’s the new wrinkle in all of this. While the lights, heat and water may go out, folks can still communicate with their tablets and smartphones. They charge them in the car cigarette lighter and chat away.

My mother did not live in a home with electricity until she was in high school. She did without it for 15 years of her life. Her parents, who were in their 40s, never had the convenience of electric lights. They weren’t available in rural Georgia.

Now, if we go 15 minutes without lights and heat, it is awful. If we go a full day, it is even more awful.

When the ice storm was at its peak, an estimated 75 percent of the homes in Hall County were without power. Mine was one of them. I got up the next morning and used my gas range to cook a little sausage and make a little frying pan toast. The oven, unfortunately, is electric.

I felt bad when we reached a second night and many dark homes were still awaiting electricity to return.

Folks were saying ugly things about the power companies. Those folks were working around the clock in the ice and, at times, in the dark to get the power back on. It’s a job I wouldn’t have.

I hope we don’t have any more ice sculptures in our yards. I also hope to see the bucket trucks leave town in the glow of our lights.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.

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