Gertie advises about arctic atmospheric conditions!

Whether you're up North and used to the snow or down South and never saw a snowflake, Gertie's got the answers to your questions on winter weather.

Dear Gertie,

Why do Southerners feel the need to buy all the milk and bread whenever we're going to have an ice storm? After all, won't the milk go bad if the power goes out in the fridge?

Scratching My Head in SC

PS My husband thinks the mental association comes from passing convenience store signs that read "milk ice bread."

Dear Scratching, Northern folks behave the same way, I've heard. They just don't freak out when the weatherman predicts a "dusting" of snow. Your husband had an astute observation, and I often wondered if those convenience stores used mind control with their subliminal advertising to cause this strangeness.

I remember when Momma would buy four gallons or so of milk (whenever it snowed), we would just put the cartons outside in the snow when the power went out. If the raccoons or dogs didn't get to them, we'd have milk. Now mind you, the only thing we used milk for was to make snow cream.

Dear Gertie,

We're going to be traveling a lot this winter, any advice?


Dear Sam, if you're traveling around here in the South, the only advice I can give you is to wear clean underwear, don't drink and drive, wear your seatbelt, and don't drive to the grocery store when you hear there's a chance of ice or snow.

If you're traveling around up North, make sure your car has a full tank and a good battery, and check all the systems before setting off on your adventure. Take along a first aid kit, instant heat packs, flares, candles, and a bag of sand or cat litter for holding candles and traction. In case of an emergency, you should have blankets, extra clothing, candy, and toilet paper. A cell phone with phone numbers for road assistance, local dining, and beauty parlors are also helpful. If the kids are along for the ride, a portable television with non-stop cartoons is a must.

Dear Gertie,

Hello. I'm from Florida, and we really don't see snow that often, but the weather's been kind of crazy recently. Our weather forecaster said we might see a "flurry" tonight. I'm not sure what a "flurry" is, but my relatives in New York have been getting a lot of those, and they've had to put salt on their front steps. That sounds really strange to me, but they're the ones who know about cold weather. So just to be prepared, I've been standing on my front steps for three hours with the salt shaker I took off my dinner table, just sprinkling salt on my steps. I have a little pile of salt and my neighbors are looking at me kind of funny, and I still haven't seen any flurries yet. Plus I'm out of salt, so I have to go to Publix to get more, but what if it starts flurrying while I'm gone and I slip on the front steps trying to go back into my house? Am I doing this right?

Margurite Hentrude
Palm Beach, Florida
Dear Margurite, it sounds as if you have a good handle on the situation, although I wouldn't worry too awful much about slippin' and slidin' on the front porch (unless your neighbor didn't make it to his house in time (again).

In meteorological lingo, a "flurry" happens when a cold air mass (colder than a well digger's butt - see below) covers an area at the same time it's supposed to rain. In Southern states, a "flurry" also means to drive as quickly as you can to the grocery store and buy up all the milk, bread, beer, and toilet paper that you can carry. As far as the salt goes, save it for your popcorn and margaritas.

Dear Gertie,

Around here when it gets really cold, people say it is colder than a well digger's a**. Just how cold IS that exactly?

Thanks, Naive in North Carolina

Dear Naive, that's a good question. According to this quaint and partially offensive phrase used to denote the lower end of the temperature scale. For example, "That creek is colder'n a well-digger's a**!" You can also add "in the Klondike" for extra emphasis. Another example, "When I interviewed Hilary, she was colder than a well-digger's a** in the Klondike!"

As far as the exact temperature, I'd say that it's probably colder than a witch's bitsy in a brass brassiere in January.

Dear Graival Gurdy,

Our weatherman said that it was going to snow tamarra. Will I have scool tamarra?

Danny in Dallas

Hi Danny! Yes, there will be school tomorrow, go to bed.

Dear Gertie,

What is Jack Wax? It sounds quite ... disgusting.


Hi Donna! Oh honey, you're so wrong! Jack Wax is boiled pure maple syrup drizzled over fresh snow. To make Jack Wax, pour a couple of cups of REAL maple syrup (not that Aunt Jemima stuff) into a heavy pot and heat to medium/high heat, while you stir constantly. Scoop up a spoonful of liquid and pour it back into the pot. When a thin string forms, the syrup is ready. Slowly drizzle the hot syrup over the snow and it will immediately harden into yummy pieces of maple candy.

Dear Gertie,

I got up this morning and looked outside and there was a lot of snow. I have a shared driveway and I am sick and tired of doing my neighbor's driveway so much. He used to help 50/50 but now it seems more 90/10. (The 90 is me...) What can I do to get him to see the light at the end of the snow shovel?

Larry Graves

Poor Larry, livin' up North sure can be a hassle some times. Before you go off and do something awful like whacking your neighbor up side the head with your snow shovel, I'd like to offer you some ideas

Hopefully, your neighbor will soon get the hint.

Dear Gert,

Is there any way I can train my dog to shovel snow?
Melvin D.

Dear Melvin, dogs are smart animals, well, except for that drinking out of the toilet thing, and I reckon they could be taught to do just about anything. You could bury bones, bacon, your wife's shoes, and other yummies in the snow and get Rover to dig them out. Or you could strap some sort of metal thing on his back and as he chases the mailman, he could pull trenches in the snow. You then could sow salt in these trenches and eventually melt the snow. Or you could live next to Larry Graves and he would shovel your driveway for free.

Hi Gert,

What is snow cream? How do you make it?

Terry in Lincoln

Hey Terry, snow cream is a delicacy that is well known here in the South. The most common way my Momma used to make it (she had several different ways) take 1 cup of milk, 1 slightly beaten egg, 1/2 cup sugar, dash of salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla and blend well. Add fresh clean snow (none of that yellow stuff) until the liquid is absorbed. Nowadays, Momma blends the milk, sugar and egg in a pot and cooks it on low, so to cook the egg, then she srains out the egg cooties, and puts it into a bowl to cool. When cool, she adds the snow like before. Daddy's recipe is different, he uses a can of sweetened condensed milk, about a half cup of milk, a teaspoon of vanilla, a shake of salt, and a gallon or two of fresh snow. When I make snow cream for my younguns, I use a couple of cartons of half and half, 3/4 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and a big gallon-size bowl of fresh snow. Snow cream is best eaten fresh - leftovers taste yucky.

Also, if you live in a place where pollution is a problem, I suggest that you just buy some ice cream.

Dear Gertie,
I live in Northern Florida, so we don't get much cold weather here, but I wanna know if it's alright to wear white after September? I just bought these fabulous white capri jeans for only $16.99 from Victoria's secret. Oh, they are just to die for!! does that rule of thumb count in the South only in the North??

Oh, and what about sweaters?? Are casmehere still in???
Southern Susie
Dear Susie, wearing white after Labor Day is acceptable everywhere except in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee. According to
The Advice from Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee web site, it is OK to wear white anytime. Personally, I'll wear white anytime here around the house, but when I get gussied up to go bowling or go to church, I won't wear white unless it's after Memorial Day and before Labor Day. But, that's just me.

Dear Gert,

When my gutters get all iced up, and then the snow on the roof starts to melt, the water and has no place to go--except through the ceiling, and through the walls! I've moved all my furniture out of that particular corner of the living room and I am sitting with bated breath waiting for the maintenance crew of the apartment complex to do something about it. Sigh. Thank you for giving me a chance to vent!

Dear Teri, why, you're welcome, honey! My Granny used to have to put pots and buckets all over her living room and bedroom when a good rain would come. Back then, it was OK, but nowadays it ain't the "en vogue" thing, huh?

Since you live in an apartment and must rely on the maintenance crew to fix you up, try these tricks:

Dear Gertie,
Around here, when it's really cold they say it's colder than owl sh*t. What, exactly, does that mean? And, since I live in Florida, and it doesn't get very cold, except this year, is owl poop not really all that cold?

Florida Feller

Dear Florida Feller, I think you have your sayings messed up. You say, "That stretch of road is slicker than Owl Sh*t on a doorknob," when the road gets all iced over and stuff. I reckon this saying came from when someone was trying to get into the barn and the handle or doorknob was covered in owl dung. Apparently the person trying to enter the building couldn't get the door opened due to the slick-ness of the owl poop. Now as far as how slick owl fecal matter is, I'd venture to say that it's slicker than snot.

Copyright © 2000-2017, Gravel Gertie
Revised - 12/08/17