I grew up on the western shore of Michigan where winter is snowy and cold but these western Wisconsin winters are a different beast entirely. In Michigan, we ice skate and sled and call off school if it’s below zero. Here we’re bundling our children up in -20º temps and loading them on those big yellow buses. The months of January and February are almost exclusively spent indoors because if-you’re-outside-for-more-than-ten-minutes-you-actually-could-die-from-the-cold. There’s a reason we’re the originators of the indoor water park and drive around with emergency coffee can/candle heaters in the backseat of our cars. This place can be brutal.
No matter how Violet protests that winter isn’t until December 21, Mother Nature is ignoring her. I know a great many people grumbling about the early cold and snow and I don’t blame them. Winters here are long. Two years ago we had snow in May. And this year I don’t think we ever managed to top 90º. Below zero temperatures in November, and rumors of another colder than normal winter (when winters are plenty cold enough, thank you) have got a great many people talking about how we might all just be a little crazy for living here and I’m starting to agree with them.
But since it’s November, and we are still in the double digits, and I really needed to get outside and “blow the stink off me” (did your mother say that as a child? just mine?), I put on some boots and tromped out. We live close to a water retention area that is wooded and grassy and has a couple of ponds that Violet has named “Swan Lake” and “Crystal Pond” and I love that I can be completely surrounded by woods (enough that I’m too chicken to walk here at night) but am really only a five minute walk from my home. Or a gas station.
It was a beautiful day. Curtains of snow were falling off branches and landing with puffs because of the wind. The cold was brisk and bracing but not needle piercing, face falling off cold. And then I came home and warmed up with some steamy lemon tea and my homemade vapor rub. (Abram shared a butt kicker of a cold with me. Does anyone else notice that a kid with a cold hardly seems to slow down, but when WE get the cold it’s like the germs go into overdrive and knock us on our keisters?)
And now it’s almost 8 o’clock and I’m going to bed like a granny. But that’s one nice thing about winter – it’s dark by 4, so it doesn’t feel like cheating at all when you crawl into your jammies by six.
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