Friday, January 17, 2014

Longing for Michigan Winters

Longing to play in the snow
Living in Virginia, I long for Michigan winters. The snow and ice shaped some of my best childhood memories. When I return now as an adult, I find peace among the frozen branches and snow-covered grounds of my youth.


The first snow was the best. I did not dislike later snows, but they never were as thrilling as the first blanket of unspoiled white powder.

If I hurried outside, my footsteps would be the first brushstrokes upon the blank canvas. Animals had not even walked this earth yet.

Each step brought the sense that I was blazing a trail for future explorers to follow. Looking back at my lonely footsteps confirmed my belief that I was the first one here. Others would come, but my footprints would announce that they were too late.

Perhaps they would pave over my path or create avenues that intersected with mine. They might build monuments and forts of snow to protect their land, but their foundations were weak and eventually would fall. Later snowfalls might cover my trail and theirs, but they would not take that moment away from me. I was first…forever.

A fresh blanket of Michigan snow


He stood upon a mountain of ice and snow. Challengers to the throne charged uphill, only to be thrown down, defeated. The people united to dethrone the despot. Surrounded and outnumbered, the once proud king, betrayed by his subjects, was tossed from his kingdom. He watched his enemies turn on themselves, until a new king arose.

The old king bided his time. He would reclaim his throne…unless the school bell rang.


The local pond was Lake Placid. I darted left, then right, and lifted the puck over the goalie’s shoulder. USA! USA! USA!

The ruts dug into the hill by years of flowing water were now a bobsled run. I ran and dove into my wooden toboggan. Darting down the hill, weaving back and forth, gripping the sled fiercely, I sunk low to avoid the wind resistance. Crossing the finish line, I looked up. A new world record!


An adult now, I take her into the snow-covered woods near my parents’ home. Remembering my old tracks long gone, I unleash her and watch her bound and leap through the shoulder-high snow.

I lie down and bury my hand deep. I move it back and forth until she notices. She leaps high in the air and dives headfirst into the snow like an arctic fox hunting its prey.

She becomes the prey as I grab her snout. We wrestle in the snow…she is a puppy again. She would hunt and play on the frozen earth forever if I was not there to rescue her from her own ambition.

Eventually, we turn back home. I pour a cup of hot coffee, and she curls up on a pile of blankets…resting for her next adventure.

The arctic fox

I awake and look out upon the newly covered ground. The ice-covered limbs do not move, their lives crystallized and suspended. The brightest sun is the one that reflects off the frozen white sheet that nature left behind the night before. But in all its brightness, it cannot melt something so cold. Its beams merely bounce off in search of eyes to blind.

I hear no birds chirping and see no animals frolicking. Who am I to disturb such beauty? I will take a picture, but it will not capture the serenity of this moment. I put down the camera and grab a book. Wearing my warmest wool socks and covering myself with an afghan my grandma made, I lie down and read.

The dog is older now. She knows the snow will be there later. She curls up next to me and dreams…of what, I do not know.

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