The day after Halloween I asked my husband if it was too early to decorate for Christmas. He told me it was way too early. It's not that I'm Martha Stewart or proactive with holiday decorating, I just really like the winter season in Northeast Michigan and holiday decorating is part of that for me. At a recent meeting I attended it was mentioned that we don't capitalize on our four-season beauty as a community. Most pictures you see promoting Alpena showcase our gorgeous spring, summer, and fall seasons. While they are spectacular, winter in our region hosts a dazzling beauty all its own. It's also that time of year when you start to hear people complain about the impending snow-doom. All of this has got me thinking.
I grew up out in the country where the snow is always whiter than white and sparkles like diamonds. I remember waking up on winter mornings excited to get our chores done and go out to the sledding hill behind the barn. Mom would be waiting with warm hot chocolate at lunchtime (feel free to insert Walton's theme music here). My mom would also drop us off at Mich-e-ke-wis outdoor ice rink so my brother and I could skate while she went and bought groceries.
As I grew older I would take my camera out for snowshoe hikes through the fields or help my dad in the woods where the trees gently swayed and rocked shaking off their boughs to make it seem like it was always snowing. Usually I ended up building Bear Grylls style forts out of deadfalls while dad cut wood, so I guess I wasn't actually providing much help. Regardless, winter in Northeast Michigan is amazing. But as happens with most things you enjoy as a child, you get old. You look out at the snow and momentarily take in its allure; then quickly remember that this means you have to shovel the walk, plow the drive, scrape the car, worry about ice damming on the roof, squish your hair with a hat, find your other mitten, and try to dress in layers while being able to maintain arm movement.
Winter now seems to be enjoyed in increments. A few hours here for skiing, a few hours there to quickly build a snowman. For many the enjoyment is overshadowed by thoughts of how soon they will get cold and have to go in. The hours and hours of outdoor fun we enjoyed as kids has been long forgotten. What changed? Winter is still winter. Cold and refreshing. Our attitudes have changed. The snow isn't a wonder of nature to be enjoyed, it's a hassle.
If you're one of these folks who look at the weather report, not to see how many wonderful inches of snow are coming are way but to see how early you need to get up and begrudgingly clear the driveway, then let's try something different this year. Let's embark on a mission to rediscover winter in Northeast Michigan. Here's the plan:
Our winters should not be met with dread and discomfort. They are too breathtaking for that reception. Let's enjoy this season and remind ourselves why Northeast Michigan is a great place to live all year-round. So get ready. Make sure you locate your mittens in that box you put away last spring. Pull out your boots, thermal underwear and warm hats. In another month I expect to pass you out on the bike path enjoying our beautiful winter days!
Mary Beth Stutzman's Inspiring A-Town appears bi-weekly on Tuesdays.