Staff photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press Joy McKee rides a snowboard down Forest Avenue on Monday morning.
Two grown men zoom by on a kayak tied to the back of a four-wheeler, screaming like giddy schoolboys.
Their wives and children pass them in a station wagon, laughing, waiting for them to plow into a 6-inch-high pile of snow.
"Woohoo!" one of the men yells as the kayak slides across patches of ice. "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Let's git'r done."
It's Monday, and these men could be working. They'll admit that. Two of them are attorneys with local law firms and another is a financial analyst.
But the snow is so thick and their kids want to sled. So Chris Rowe, 41; Maury Nicely, 39; and Tim Mickel, 40, are out sliding on white streets in the Riverview neighborhood, dodging the few cars that have braved the roads.
"This is a freaking blast," Rowe said. "Our kids say we are having more fun than them."
Snow can be a pain. Closed roads. Closed businesses. Car wrecks. But to a lot of people in Chattanooga on Monday, it was a dream, too.
Teenagers, home from school and stranded, ride bikes to the Save-A-Lot on Dayton Boulevard to get snack food. Home from work, couples walk to stock up at the liquor store.
People race dirt bikes and four-wheelers in the muddy slush in Hixson and lob snowballs at one another. Dogs, taken out by their owners to play in North Chattanooga, make paths.
Young kids — wearing boots, winter jackets, scarves and hats — stand on their front porches in Riverview and watch the flakes fall, frozen by excitement and fear. Some grab a handful of white and put it in their mouths. Some pack it into big balls and make snowmen or fall to the ground and assume the snow angel position.
And many adults, who said they stopped getting excited about snow years ago, became kids again.
"Today I am reliving my youth," said 54-year-old D.H. Brown. "We're 10 years old today."
Brown was home from his job as a truck driver and spent the day sledding with his girlfriend, Julia Winters, down a hill in front of their home in Red Bank. They had bought two small, plastic sleds and planned to drink bourbon inside when they were done.
"I want to see some good faces," he told Winters before they climbed the hill for another ride. A few seconds later, at the bottom of the hill, they both rolled into the snow.
"I got airborne that time," Winters told Brown, rubbing her backside. "I'm not going to be able to get out of bed tomorrow."
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Joan Garrett McClane has been a staff writer for the Times Free Press since August 2007. Before becoming a general assignment writer for the paper, she wrote about business, higher education and the court systems. She grew up the oldest of five sisters near Birmingham, Ala., and graduated with a master's and bachelor's degrees in journalism from the University of Alabama. Before landing her first full-time job as a reporter at the Times Free Press, ...