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Tennessee Winter… As Told by a Californian


Almost two years ago, when my Kentucky-born husband told me that it would be really cold when we landed in Nashville, I didn’t really believe him. I didn’t believe him when we got to the car rental counter and he mentioned that I might want to put my coat on. And I still didn’t believe him as he zipped his own coat up to his face as we walked outside to get the car.

I believed him when we got outside. It was nine degrees. NINE. N.I.N.E. Single digits. I’m from California. Southern California, to be exact…so that was pretty freaking cold. The coldest weather I had ever been in was in the desert in the winter, and it was maybe 25 degrees? Nine is a whole heck of a lot colder than 25.

This last winter, Nashville hit pretty dang close to 9 degrees again, and as we snuggled with our newborn baby and watched the rain freeze on the roads, I realized I had no idea how to prepare for cold weather. Okay, any weather other than warm and balmy. This year, I feel like I’m a little better prepared. Denial still occasionally sets in, and I can briefly convince myself that there won’t be any holiday boat shows in this weather, but in general? I think I’m good to go. (Disclaimer: I know that Tennessee winter isn’t anywhere near the same as East Coast winter, and my Boston-bred mom chuckled when I told her that our city shuts down for 3 inches of snow…)

Without further ado—my advice for surviving a Tennessee winter:

Ice is slippery. Seriously. So slippery. The only times I’d ever been on ice, I was wearing skates. Well, boots turn into skates when you step down an ice-covered step, and falling with a baby in your arms is terrifying… As in call-your-husband-blubbering-to-come-home-early terrifying. Hang onto those railings… And those babies.


Mama fell… With Holden

Layers are best—and not just in cakes. Outside is cold. So inside compensates. Sitting in a restaurant sweating over Ramen isn’t fun. Trust me. The first day we ventured out during last year’s ice storm, I had on a heavy sweatshirt (a pajama shirt, maybe??) under my coat. By the time our food came, I was so uncomfortable—while everyone around me had stripped down to their t-shirts, piles of coats on the floor beside them. Make sure you have the ability to peel off that coat (and perhaps a few more layers) and warm up from the inside.

Chubby babies in chubbier snowsuits. Are. Adorable. No questions asked. But, said chubby baby also could use some layers. Don’t do what I did and force the babe to sit in a ridiculously puffed up snowsuit in his carseat, in a restaurant. Those pudgy pink cheeks were soon red-hot and sweaty. (Note: I took it off when I buckled him into his seat in the car; he rode in a diaper and socks… Mom win for sure. Seriously though—carseat safety calls for bundling OVER the buckle rather than under.)



Frozen rain is heavy. Why that never crossed my mind, who knows… Maybe because I hadn’t ever seen frozen rain until that moment? Anyway, watch your tree branches. They fall. And narrowly miss power lines. And cars. And dogs. (Sorry, Neville—at least it missed!) Branches (and whole trees) make terrible cracking sounds when they fall. Again, thankfully, narrowly missing important objects.


Remnants of our Backyard Tree


Fallen Tree Blocking McGavock

Ice is really slippery. I’m saying it agin because it is, and I can’t stress it enough! Cars get stuck (or worse) on slippery ice. And then you have to walk home 3 blocks. In above mentioned sweatshirt and coat, carrying above mentioned chubby baby in chubbier snowsuit. ON SLIPPERY ICE.

There’s something called “dripping your faucets.” What? The first (three) times someone told me to “remember to drip your faucets!!!” I smiled and acted like I knew what they meant. I didn’t. I had to ask my husband. Coming from the “Land of Perpetual Drought,” leaving faucets running was blasphemy in my experience. I was mortified. What a waste!! I never had even thought about water freezing in pipes, but it can. And it does. And then the pipes burst. Thankfully, we didn’t experience the bursting part. However, our water bill was significantly higher, and I had nightmares about running out of water for weeks.


Snow is magical. Again, maybe because I didn’t grow up with it, but I am in awe when snow falls from the sky. I was in my 20s before I actually experienced snow of any kind, and it still doesn’t seem real. I could sit and stare out the window for hours watching it fall. There were a few mornings last winter where I actually did just that. (Maybe not for hours, really, but for however long it took for the baby and the husband to realize I was just sitting and staring.)



I think I’m a little better prepared this winter… Lots of layers and careful steps… Or maybe, I just won’t leave the house. We can always have groceries or meals delivered, right?

One Response to Tennessee Winter… As Told by a Californian

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    Sammi July 28, 2020 at 2:08 pm #

    Is there any shoes you recommend for not slipping? Are chains required during winter? We are moving from California to Tennessee this winter!

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