Tag Archives: winter

Facing March

wpid-20150301_132900.jpgAfter yesterday’s rant about Michigan winters, we decided to buck up and face the enemy. The gray days, combined with collective cases of cabin fever have dragged this family down, so we geared up and ventured outdoors.

I like to think of Michigan as a mini New Zealand, in that we have such varied terrain, climate, and plenty of water. We left our house, which is situated in a very flat middle-of-nowhere, and drove 30 minutes to the St. Clair River and followed it north, watching the giant ice shards float their way to the mouth of Lake Huron.

We passed beneath the Blue Water Bridge (oh, hey Canada!) and wound our way up to Lexington, a quaint little lakeside town that thrives in the summer.  Now, sheets of plywood board half the windows, and half the residents are sunning themselves in Ft. Lauderdale.  Still, the year-rounders seem to embrace the season, despite being repeatedly blasted by the Arctic winds that rush off the frozen waves of Lake Huron.

We wandered down to the community park, where ice fishermen lounged in their shanties in the marina where, six months ago, sailboats and yachts floated in the docks.  Snowmobile tracks crisscrossed the landscape, and two ice-skating rinks flanked a small amphitheater where it looked like a band had actually recently played.

We watched the kids climb around on the playscape (which rose up out of three-foot snowdrifts like some wonderland castle), then we gathered our nerve and headed to the pier.  Piles of ten-foot boulders lift this half-mile long sidewalk out past the marina and over the open lake, the surface of which had crystallized into a miniature ice-mountain vista.  The wind, thankfully, was mild as we clung to the bright blue handrail.

We made it about 15 feet.  A couple, making their way back and looking pale, warned us away; sheets of ice covered the narrow pier and we might slip and plummet between the aforementioned boulders, never to be heard from again.  We turned back and slid on the ice rink instead.

Yesterday I railed against March, despised it for being the longest month of the year.  Well, I take it back.  Spending time, just me and my family playing out in the winter wind, recharged me.  Today, it’s sunny and 24 (a heat wave!) and I guess March isn’t so bad after all.

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The Snow Train – Surviving March in Michigan

snow trainLast month, The Weather Channel posted a video of a freight train speeding across a snow-drenched Canadian tundra.  I clicked on the link because I thought my nine-year-old son might like it.  Turns out, I was just as mesmerized as we watched a three-stories-high snow cloud barrel through the wilderness like a white sandstorm.  Moments later, a sleek red and white locomotive emerged long enough to decimate a six-foot snowdrift, sending white sprays high.  The beast-machine careened by, leveling the camera man with a giant snow breaker as it carried on its way.

This winter has been rough.  I know, last winter was rough, too, with the Polar Vortex and all, but somehow this one seems both longer and harsher.  We were buried in record-breaking snow.  Sub-zero temperatures seem to be the new normal.  My car doors froze shut.  My front door froze shut.  We are quickly burning through the firewood we so carefully stacked, assuming it would get us through at least 2016.

We Michiganders are tough.  We shovel and salt and don our thickest, bulkiest outerwear and we press on.  We chuckle when Atlanta shuts down for two days at the mere threat of snow.  We dust off our flip-flops in anticipation of that first 45-degree day.  Still, all but the cold-hardiest of us is beat down come March.

I’ll admit it.  I’m there.  The same white fluff that dazzled me pre-Christmas now looks almost sinister.  The days hang gray and the sun, when it bothers to shine, blinds me.  The snow itself is a crusty shell that scrapes up the kids (though that never seems to faze them), and the salt residue clings to every surface.  In fact, I just looked out the window.  It snowed.  Again.  Drat.

So, how do we hope to survive more of this as we face another March, the longest month of the year?  We do what we always do, because we Michiganders are like that sleek red freight train.  We’ll pull on our red hats and decimate snowdrifts with our mighty shovels and we’ll keep pressing on whatever March dares to bring.

Sure, Michigan winters are a proverbial force to be reckoned with – but so are we.

Bring it on, March.

Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Waiting for spring

I step out the front door and into the sun – and I’m blasted by 30-degree winds.  Should have checked the weather.  So much for that walk in the woods.

I inspect my beloved lilac bush, always the first to burst, and it mocks me with its high-gloss buds wound up tight.  From beneath my porch,a newly-roused woodchuck sniffs the frigid air, and we call a silent truce; neither of us is ready for our summer-long battle to begin.  He retreats to his den.

The brown earth, despite its surface dampness, has no give.  The robins peck, in search of worm-sicles, and I hear them wonder why they bothered to return.

Everything waits for that day – you know the one – when the birds serenade, the sun warms and the breeze carries life-giving sweetness.  Windows swing open and jackets come off and, for that one perfect day, harmony reigns.

I used to say that, in Michigan, March is the longest month of the year.  I was wrong.  It’s April.

The moment you realize it’s best not to skip the concealer

concealerIt’s ten degrees in the market parking lot, but the sun warms my spirit and scatters diamond-sparks on the snow. My four-year-old daughter rides in the cart, bundled in pink and her breath comes in clouds of sweet vapor. I unlock the van and smile at the older couple at the car beside us as they unload their groceries.

My daughter regards me, all squinty-faced. “Mommy?”

“Yes, dear?”

“Can I ask you a question?”

“Yes, dear.”

“Are eyelids purple?”

I sigh. “Yes, dear.”

 

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Happy Stillness Week

GiftI watch my little ones as they fling snowflakes and construct crystal kingdoms and I smile at the stillness of this week.  Jingle-bells echo and the scent of peppermint lingers and everything turns from red-green to silver-light.  Each year, I’m surprised how the space between Christmas and New Years feels weightless and lifts me up and I hold my breath with the whole world.  We all wait, balanced on this final span of 2012, amazed at the passing of yet another year and the whispered hope of time renewed.

So many people talk of the post-Christmas letdown, but I love this week.  It always feels like a gift, as if the extra hour in the day we all wish for gets packaged into an extra seven days, during which we can all breathe easy because time doesn’t officially move forward again until January 1.  Oh sure, we all still have our to-do lists, but this week we can step outside our respective rat races and be light.

This week is for reflection.  It’s for dreaming and calibrating and resolving (let’s face it; we all do it – even if we resolve not to resolve).  It’s for surveying the contents of a year – of a lifetime – and being thankful.  We don’t have to look forward yet, at least not with our usual gravity.  We can observe the future safely from Stillness Week and see all the shapes our lives may take.  This week is not a letdown; it’s a blessing.

So I wish you Happy Stillness Week, however you choose to spend it.