Cars, decks, porches. Lanais, steps, bridges. All of it, covered with ice. Even — perhaps most astonishing of all — the beaches.
Schools, banks and stores were closed. The mail was not delivered. ATMs were frozen over.
Wednesday was definitely a day unlike any other in South Walton.
"It's a chicken, greens and cornbread kind of day," said Point Washington resident Debbie Weant, who, like most locals, took the Sheriff's Office advice to take the day off and cook comfort food, watch movies, catch up on chores or get started on those taxes.
Kathy Fly-Bridges opted for the chocolate-chip cookie route as others worked from home, cleaned closets and knitted.
The bounty of ice was a first for some South Waltoners, but for natives and old timers, it was not.
Seaside founder Robert Davis recalls the first Seaside Prize ceremony in April 1983, where all were amazed to see spring snow at the beach. He said Vincent Scully, one of the recipients, was Yale's Sterling Professor of Art and Architecture, so he was accustomed to snow in New Haven but a bit surprised by its appearance during his imagined escape from winter weather to sunny Florida.
Adrianne Walline, who was born in DeFuniak Springs and lived in Grayton until she was 6, also has wintry memories. She lived on Choctawhatchee Bay until last year.
"I remember as a kid the bay being frozen in the 1960s," she said. "It happened again in the 1970s, and in 1989 the temperature was below freezing for two days and three nights. The water was frozen 100 yards out the first night, and the second day, that doubled. The power was out for 10 hours and ice accumulated on the inside of my windows.
“We had gas space heaters and a gas stove we used for heat, and the old land line phone. And, yes, it snowed then too, and snow was on our car. It was just enough to dust everything. When the canals froze, people went out on it and picked mullet up from on top of the ice."
But by all accounts, the recent deep freeze and its circumstances were highly unusual. It left residents feeling grateful they still had electricity and pondering what life would be like without it. It also turned folks’ concerns to for those farther north, some of whom were South Walton residents away from home.
County Road 30A residents Tricia and Mark Northcutt found themselves in the midst of major snags around Birmingham, Ala., while traveling home from Indiana.
"We ended up in Hoover, Ala., because the weather report predicted chaos and we knew we needed to get a room or there wouldn't be any left," Tricia said. Northcutt said hotel employees spent the night at the hotel so all went smoothly for guests, and there was a party atmosphere as no one could leave.
"The biggest problem appears to be the abandoned cars," she said. "We were very lucky. This is a winter to remember."
Alison DeVaughn drove to Troy, Ala., on Tuesday to take her mother to a doctor's appointment. The appointment got canceled and due to the snow Troy received, DeVaughn was temporarily stranded there.
Other local residents were safe and sound in South Walton but feared for their more northerly friends and family.
Lorre James's nephew's car could not make it home to his house in the Mountain Brook section of Birmingham and he had to hike for more than an hour. James's 80-year-old mother held her car steady as it slid backwards down a
"Mom is feeling all superwoman now," said James. "This story will be shared at her bridge club and bunko for a long time!"