Water, Winter, Wonderland?

Except for 1 year and approximately 3 months, I’ve been a Michiganian (never refer to myself as Michigander – I am not a goose, I’m a Robin!) all my life. I love the beautiful, tall deciduous and evergreen trees of my home state. One of my sisters, who has lived in Iowa and presently in Illinois, laments the sparseness of the variety and abundance of trees in other states. She looks forward to seeing the wonderful Michigan forestry, on visits home.

The 4 of 5 Great Lakes are majestic – in every season. Many summers have been highlighted by fishing, swimming – and most often- simply daydreaming while taking in the wonderful panoramic horizons of the sheer awesomeness of the largest collection of freshwater  lakes anywhere in the entire world! I’ve seen Tahquamenon Falls in the Upper Peninsula in the autumn. The vibrant colors in the leaves, and the brownish-copper-golden colors swirling through the quick-running currents of the upper falls, seem perfectly complementary. The frozen-in-mid-crashing-waves are beautifully breathtaking in winter resplendency.

Michigan is blessed with an abundance of flowers, both wild native and/or domesticated foreigners. Spring brings the daffodils, hyacinths, lilacs, and tulips. Summer sees the Asiatic lilies, roses, and the Summer Queens – hydrangeas. The cooler days of autumn show off the muted colors of asters and mums, but the heather also begins to come into its own. Even in the winter season, we have the colors of the various pines and the shiny, deep green leaves of the holly with the bright red berries.

Yet…I hate cold and snow. Yes, the fabled stories you have heard are true – winter encompasses about 7 months of the calendar year, here.

I can imagine my Readers shaking their collective heads in disbelief, perhaps accompanied by those cartoon-like sounds of rusty springs and other bedlam that signals confusion. You may imitate this sound by attempting to vocalize the word, ‘what’, while rapidly and violently shaking your head from side to side. You know you want to try it…;)

In my childhood, I remember trying to be as excited as my sibs with the new sleds, saucers, or toboggans. I’d give it the ole college try. After about half an hour, I’d succumb to the whisperings in my head that kept telling me that Mom liked to keep the house at a Miami-style temperature, even on the most icy of days, and I was about to succumb to hypothermia at any fast-approaching minute. Usually, I was only out there because, being the eldest, I had to make sure my younger sisters and brother didn’t get run over by a…snowplow? With no sidewalks out in the rural area, the only place that was flat enough to glide along in a sled or saucer was the road. Also consider, the sun has totally left the sky by 5:30 pm in the dead of Michigan winter. Sometimes, if we had a huge dump of snowfall, we’d have a small mountain of snow that grew out of the shoveling of the rather long driveway. It was fun for the little kids to zip down the man-made snow mountain and coast along the ample front yard, across the slippery, icy crust. Perhaps I could be enticed to take a turn or two, prior to seeking shelter.

In high school, I tried snowmobiling. The kids at school absolutely raved about the scintillating, exhilarating, feeling of rushing through anywhere from barely an inch up to a couple feet of snow. In the house (warm and dry), we could hear the seductive, at first quiet, bumble bee-like hum of the snowmobile engines. By the sounds of the acceleration/deceleration cycles, in my imagination, I compared the machines to the self-witnessed many deer, deep in the back yard, chasing one another and laughingly running, willy-nilly. You say you weren’t aware that deer laugh?! Having even more pressure placed on me by friends, and not wanting to appear to be either a killjoy or a wimp, I donned that clothing article of ancient lore – the snowmobile suit. This was a one-piece, over-stuffed, highly movement-restricting garment. Effective? Doubtless. Haute couture? “Please, Lord, if I have to die in the next few minutes, don’t let anyone take pictures of me wearing this bulky, shapeless, thing” that was even harder to take off than put on. Let me not be remiss to mention the essential pre-snowmobile suit layering routine:

Three pairs of socks? Check.

Two progressively heavier, long-sleeved shirts, over which I slid my bulkiest sweatshirt? Check.

Tights, thermal underwear, and corduroy slacks? Check.

Then, it was time to pull, twist, jiggle, jostle, and contort myself into the snowmobile suit. All buttons and zippers checked and fastened. Hopefully, though not always, I remembered to visit the bathroom prior to all the pieces of insulating fabric. Cold air has a way of communicating directly with the kidneys, disturbing their slumber. Now, feet were plunged into the even uglier snowmobile boots with the felt liners that the pets liked to pull out, chew on, perchance to hide…

Finally, the placement of the stocking cap under the quite heavy helmet with the chinstrap that never reaaalllly quite fit as well as one would like to tightly secure the helmet on the head, and the gloves (or if already lost, a last-minute substitution of mis-matched socks) AND mittens hastily shoved over the hands. I was ready to go! A veritable abominable snowgirl-type of vision! If I were to try to estimate prep time, I would hazard a guess of anywhere from 30-75 minutes (pending any poorly planned bathroom visits).

Never feeling quite comfortable enough with my Skidoo driving skills, I happily took the passenger spot. And we were off! Funny how that seductive, bumble bee hum actually sounded more like a gargantuan lawn mower in high gear, once one was seated atop the beast. Holding on for dear life, we skimmed along the dazzling white ground. When the speed-whipped wind wasn’t freezing my eyeballs solid, I would open them a slit to see the trees whizzing past. There were bumps, lumps, humps, but luckily, no dumps. Although, we did tip at about a 30-degree angle, one time, when trying to maneuver along the edge of a ditch. Why the edge of a ditch? Wasn’t my idea, I’m sure I don’t know. Masculine bravado over mastery of the powerful vehicle? In spite of myself, it was fun! It was exciting! The frigid air definitely was exhilarating to the lungs, which were sending SOS signals right through the helmet and stocking hat, to my cold-benumbed brain, which was just a bit slow(er) in interpretation.

I have no idea how long we flew merrily along – perhaps due to the cryo effects on the cranium. It was an unexpectedly happy time. Returning home, extracting head from helmet, I tried to speak to my mother about the happy, fun ride. My excitement quickly faded, as my words came out sounding like infantile gibberish, due to a frozen lower jaw. Even I had to laugh, however.

You know, I don’t recall ever again riding a snowmobile. As I shiver, shake and shovel my way through another winter of my life, I sometimes reminisce about past winter experiences…and while the memories may warm my heart, my brain still interrupts:

“You intensely dislike cold and snow, you silly, out-of-place Michiganian!”

And I REALLY hate it when my brain is right!

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~ by saginawrobin on January 7, 2014.

3 Responses to “Water, Winter, Wonderland?”

  1. Brrr. You made me shiver with the cold you described. Makes me grateful I grew up in Florida. That’s why I always forget to dress for cold weather. 😦

    • LOL, Rilla! We tend to look at Floridians askance, “You can’t possibly know winter.” With your move, I suppose you’re getting a bit more of an introduction. Confessedly (did I just create a word?), we long to go to the Florida beaches any time after Christmas until June!

      • I’m a weakling when it comes to the cold, and I know it. Ah, Florida from Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day is marvelous! I’m a first coaster, so I’d be haunting St. Augustine in January, if I were home.

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