Saturday, February 20, 2010

Aiken's Snow Storm

Snowbirds Get Snow
Ask horse people who came to Aiken from the North why they are here, and most of them will reply “to get away from the snow,” or some variation of that statement. That’s why it was a bit ironic that many horse people in the community were so excited when snow was predicted for the evening of Friday, February 12.

Of course, snow is not entirely unheard of in Aiken. Every few winters there will be snow in the forecast, and sometimes there are even a few flakes, or a cool dusting that throws the local forecasters into a tizzy. Usually, however, the snow never comes, or if it does, it’s hardly enough to whiten the sidewalk.

The winter of 2010, however, was a winter for snow everywhere. There were feet of it in North Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and all points north. When the snow started to fall in Aiken on Friday night, it was real snow, with big, determined flakes. It was clearly going to stick.

By the next morning, there were about five fresh white inches in downtown Aiken, and farms in the Wagener area recorded as much as seven or eight inches. There was so much snow that they had to postpone the classes at the Progressive Show Jumping horse show at Highfields Farm in Aiken, as well as the Saturday divisions of the United States Eventing Association horse trials at Pine Top Farm in Thompson, Ga.

Saturday morning, the earth was white, the sun was bright, the air was warm, and pretty much everyone in the county took a snow day. Children, adults and animals alike played in the snow. People took pictures, threw snowballs, made snowmen, and commented, over and again, on how beautiful it all was. Numerous websites of local stables now feature photographs of their barns and paddocks covered in snow. Perhaps their owners were so carried away with the novelty, they forgot that a snow-covered barn is hardly a way to advertise Aiken as a great place to ride in the winter.

Of course, snow in Aiken is different from snow in most other places. For one thing, no one had to worry much about digging themselves out. As the day wore on, the sun grew stronger, and the snow started to disappear. By the late afternoon, it was mostly gone, lingering a little longer under the trees, like a reverse shadow. On Sunday, the snow was just a memory. And like so many things you see only briefly, it certainly was beautiful.

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