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Who Loves the Snow? Not Me...Usually

February 17, 2014 - Eric Benac
When I moved back to Hillman in January of 2012, I was happy to see that the winter had been fairly mild. The winter in Grand Rapids had been particularly harsh, and the relative lack of snow put me in a better frame of mind. After all, I had suffered seven winters in Marquette while going to NMU and I had grown weary of fighting the elements year in and year out. Thankfully, the winter of 2012 was also fairly mild for a snow hater like myself.

So, you can imagine how I feel about this year's winter.

It's not that I begrudge people who love the winter. Skiers, snowmobile riders, snowshoers, ice fishers, winter hikers and winter campers all have my respect for not only being able to tolerate snow and winter conditions, but their ability to actually find great joy in these conditions. I always appreciate positivity and creativity, especially in the face of intolerable conditions.

And then I look at the rapidly vanishing shoreline of Lake Huron and I feel a few moments of happiness knowing that this year's heavy snow fall is bringing back precious inches to the lake. The fact is, Michigan has been suffering drought conditions for several years and we truly needed this kind of heavy, sustained snowfall to help combat these recent dry conditions.

I try to keep these important points in mind when I stare out the window as another two inches of snow falls. I try, as hard as I can, to maintain positivity in the face of what once bordered on a crippling fear of snow (Chionophobia, in case you're interested). "Hey, at least we haven't had any major storms!" I say, as elsewhere across the nation, dozens of inches are falling nearly every week.

I try all of these things and yet I still can't suppress a grunt of disgust when I wake up, look out the window and see the beauty of the sun reflecting off two fresh inches of snow on the road. That beautiful snow can't supress the exasperation of having to switch my Explorer into four-wheel drive simply to get out of my driveway. And I can't help but roll my eyes when my car starts to threaten to fish tail whenever I hit the gas pedal for more than one second at a time.

All this snow has become increasingly frustrating to me, especially when combined with the unwelcome blasts of Arctic cold swaying too far south. I understand that we all want to go south for the winter and take a little vacation, but nobody invited you to our party, Arctic cold. You're like a drunken step dad at a wedding that won't stop hitting on the bride. During the ceremony. We tolerate you because we have no other choice, but grinning and bearing it is getting old, buddy.

After all, there's nothing quite like feeling the condensation of your mustache (at least in my case) freeze the second you step out the door. Or to briefly lean against the wall next to your bed and feel your skin freeze to the wall. This combination of heavy snow and Arctic air reminds me of Marquette: when its warm, its snowing and when its not snowing its freezing. You can't win.

The one positive that comes out of every winter is watching the area come alive in the spring. All that snow melts and turns into rivers of flowing water that wind through the streets, down the drain and into the ground in the fields of the farmland that surround us. This water helps feed grass, flowers and trees, creating beautiful visages that it takes no more than 10 minutes to find, even from downtown Alpena.

And best of all (for me), it feeds Lake Huron with the water it needs to create pleasurable conditions for swimming. Swimming is a nearly daily occurrence for me in the summer and being immersed in the cool, fresh water up at my favorite swimming spot in Ossineke is one of the things that makes me happiest to be alive.

So, next time I see that snow falling past my window and I feel the need to roll my eyes and grunt, I'll instead think of all that water surrounding me as I pick rocks and chase fish underwater during the summer.



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