There is a gene in Southern children which is activated by snowfall. When it occurs, they bundle up and take to it like hogs to a waller. The gene conveys tolerance to the frigid cold that bites their toes, the frosted gloves that burn their fingers and the prickly wind that stings their cheeks.

There’s a psychological aspect, too, in that the discomfort of snow is offset by both the pure joy of not having to go to school and the sight of an uncharted alien landscape. Getting hit in the face with a snowball is just a price to pay, and simply laughed away.

There is no fretting about getting behind on math, or history assignments piling up. Everything will be exactly as it was when they left. Snow is a timeout from the hardships of childhood, whatever those may be.

In adulthood, the snow gene still lingers, although it loses more of its punch with each passing snow event.

In fact, I’ve seen enough such events this winter that when I look out the window and behold a blanket of freshly fallen snow, my bones ache with the sight of it. Snow is a pain to slip on and slide in and it makes me grouchy, too. This winter, the South has had way more snow than it needs. In fact, if snow were a commodity, we could ship it to Canada for the Winter Olympics, where I hear they need it, in a straight-up, ton-for-ton trade for fertilizer.

The gene resides in Midwest children, too, but in adulthood it changes to the snow-shovel gene. As an example, I cite my neighbors, who both hail from the chronically snowy North, who can always be counted on to be happily scraping snow off their driveways in the early mornings after a night snow has fallen.

I’ve explained to them numerous times over the last couple of winters that in the temperate South, you never have to shovel snow off a driveway because it always conveniently melts away by mid-afternoon. But the snow shovel gene is strong in these Midwesterners.

And for good reason apparently. As it turns out, waiting on the sun to work its magic has not been a successful tactic in the Mid-South as of late.

It took me about a week to figure out that the snow on my driveway wasn’t going to melt, and new snow was just piling on top of the old snow. Unfortunately, the local hardware store sold out of snow shovels a week ago, so I had to clear the driveway with a garden shovel. For a week, I’ve been aching in places I didn’t even know were places. If sunshine were a commodity, I’d buy a heap of it right now and pump it into the Delta. It sure beats shoveling snow.

e-mail: erobinson@farmpress.com