With sincere apologies to the Beatles and those who fled to Florida for February, allow me to say: it’s been a long and lovely winter.
Yes, you read it here first: the polar vortex and endless snow and cold and ice- dams and frozen pipes and white-outs and lake-effect snow have been growth opportunities for this aging Michigander and his not-so-aging wife, Natalie.
We are true believers in experiencing each of our amazing four seasons in due course, so we stayed the course all winter long, never straying farther afield than Kalamazoo or Chicago.
And in the course of staying the course, Natalie taught me valuable lessons about accepting the things I cannot change, especially the morning weather reports.
To wit: “What don’t you understand about extremely dangerous travel conditions?
“If you drive out of here this morning, you’re going to get stuck, or drive off the road, or be attacked by marauding polar bears.”
And, one morning, when I didn’t listen to my good wife, I did get nailed right up the road from our house. Oh, I had had big plans to drive to Michigan City and take the South Shore to Chicago for SoxFest, but our little car wasn’t liking the extra layers of wet snow on our aptly named Dune Road.
So I went halfway up Dune Road and became stuck in the snow. Four cylinders and front-wheel drive were no match for a mass of partially melted white stuff. I turned to Natalie and our friend Vern Kits for help. And ultimately it was Vern’s four-wheel Jeep and a strap strategically applied to our frame that freed our snow-bound Honda Civic, and it was a healthy portion of humble pie that had me accepting the fact that I should just stay home and go for a long and quite lovely winter’s walk with Natalie and my digital camera.
We went for many a long winter’s walk by the light of the sun and of the moon, and I took photographs by the dozens of Lake Michigan in its frozen majesty, and
I emailed those to my brother Donald in Florida to remind the former Midwesterner what he was missing. Donald said he wasn’t missing it much at all, but I think he was. I think he was oh so jealous.
And I think he would have loved to be along for the ride that afternoon we were heading to Berrien Springs for my clarinet lesson when I plowed full ahead into a snowdrift on Browntown Road just east of Cleveland.
Good wife Natalie had warned me that her favorite weather sites were calling for blowing and drifting snow on east/west roads, and now, as we traveled east on an east/west road, she was suggesting that I perhaps come about, immediately.
No, male stubborn-stupidity triumphed over female intuition and common sense, and we soon found ourselves firmly fixed in massive amounts of drifted snow.
Well, I learned from Natalie that it was time to ask others for help, and so we phoned a towing service and reported our position and were just beginning to wait for them to arrive when we were approached by a motorist from the east. He was driving a four-wheel drive Suburban and he drove right up to us, and he joined me in trying to push the car out. No go.
We thanked him and suggested he back up and be on his way, and he was.
But, in no time flat, he appeared from the west on Browntown, produced chains, linked our two vehicles, and towed us out of the wintry trap.
Hey, we thought, who needs white-sand beaches and warm sea breezes when you can get pulled out of the white stuff by a complete stranger?
I could go on and on about all the wonderful cross-country skiing we did at our country clubs-Warren Dunes State Park and Chikaming Township Park and Preserve and a friend’s farm near Three Oaks, and the many laps I skated around the Howard Ice Arena in Saint Joseph, but I will simply sign off by repeating for those returning from warmer climes: it’s been a long and lovely winter right here in Southwest Michigan.