It’s December, and many of us are dreading the long, bleak trek to January, February and March – knowing that when it comes to closing winter down and ushering spring in, Michigan does everything in her own sweet time.
Last April, I sobbed my way through a milestone birthday, unable to go anywhere because the region was in the grip of an ice storm. Did I mention this was April? Worse, it was the middle of April, when one would think such nonsense would be behind us for a while. I hadn’t been that upset since I got iced in on my birthday the last time. I did say this was April, right?
What saved my sanity this year were two bouquets, one from my cousins and one from Tina, my friend since our freshman year of high school. Looking at those flowers, I saw fresh life, a fresh start, something hopeful.
Despite what I’ve said about winter, it gets a lot of bad press. We associate it with everything from darkness to death. But good things come to those who wait, and winter is great for that. We wait for warmth, for light and to shed our heavy coats.
But winter gives us the warmth of firesides and light reflected from snow and unfiltered by leaves. And since most of us have at least one heavy coat, we should be grateful instead of resentful every time we slip ours on. The Norwegians have a saying: There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.
Living through a Michigan winter can teach us much about undervalued blessings and, oddly enough, new beginnings, if our minds and hearts are open. For if it weren’t for winter, there could be no spring. Nothing can wake without having slept. And snow is the blanket beneath which grass and roots lie protected from harsher chills.
When I was young, my family took a road trip from Michigan to Tennessee. One thing after another went wrong the first day until, at last, we settled down for the night in a cozy motel in Kentucky. It was May. In the morning, we got up and my father, still smarting from the disasters the day before, groused to my mother, “Just watch! I’m going to open those curtains and there’ll be a foot of snow out there!”
He opened the curtains, and there were 2 feet of snow “out there.” It was almost like being back home. When we got to Tennessee, spring had arrived. Trees were green, flowers were blooming and the days ahead were sunny.
That was almost like being back home, too – which only goes to prove: In Michigan, if it’s not one thing, it’s the other; but if we keep an open mind, we can embrace both, especially at the heart of the season.