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Finally Spring Arrives in the Northwoods

I have a piece at Pajamas Media today that's a bit different from the others I've written there or anywhere, really, because it's not about politics or policy. A few weeks ago I was asked to write a column about what it's like to experience spring coming to the Northwoods where I live after a long winter. I wrote what I thought captured that experience quite well. Here's an excerpt:

As I stood at the kitchen window that faced south toward the gravel parking lot of our canoe livery and fly shop, I felt the breeze drift in. I stopped what I was doing, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath. The freshness of the air was glorious.

Even though my two younger children were at the dining room table waiting for lunch, I made myself stand there and embrace the warm air. It only takes one Up North winter to learn that you do not take a moment like this for granted. After a few slow, deep breaths, I could sense it. Pine. There is nothing more invigorating than the scent of fresh pine as it lingers in the air. It's one of the reasons I love living Up North.

Living in northern Michigan requires a kind of hardiness of spirit because the winters, while breathtaking in their beauty, are something to endure. To appreciate what it is like to travel the long journey of the winter months and come out on the other side to spring, you have to experience it fully by living in the Northwoods. It is not enough to come up for a weekend or two. You have to feel the transformation of the air, as crisp fall days slowly turn cold and then bitter. You have to witness the snow that falls before Thanksgiving, continues until early April, and is punctuated by hearty snowstorms. By the time March arrives your bones ache for spring, and any sign no matter how small gives you hope that warm, leisurely days on the river will soon arrive.

I'd love it if you read the rest and gave me your thoughts.


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Comments (6)

I had a moment like that my... (Below threshold)

I had a moment like that myself this week....one when I thought to myself "maybe it is finally here"...of course I promptly had to use the fireplace one night to take the damp chill off a 55 degree daytime high.
Living in upstate NY gives one the same kind of feeling when the warm weather arrives for good...every nice moment outside is to be grabbed and used...no sitting inside allowed.

I enjoyed reading your arti... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

I enjoyed reading your article Kim, and I can definitely relate. There's nothing quite like seeing the first signs of green returning to the world after a long cold winter.

I do love all the seasons in Michigan, but I also love that the seasons change so dramatically here. Each has it's good and bad (with spring and fall having the least amount of bad, IMHO), and the constant changes keep things from getting monotonous.

On a side note, I'm still hoping to take my first canoe trip on the AuSable later this summer, but with a major remodeling project underway now, and a new grandchild being born in Alaska soon which will require a trip up there, Mrs. Bunyan and I might not have time to get over your way, but time will tell. If not this summer then hopefully next.

Kim, as an ExMichigander, I... (Below threshold)

Kim, as an ExMichigander, I have only one memory of Spring.


Great article, Kim, and liv... (Below threshold)

Great article, Kim, and living in SE Minnesota, I can relate. We may not get as much snow as you do up there, but cold is cold, and sometimes it seems like it will never end.

I also enjoy the same dramatic seasonal changes that P Bunyan does. It does keep things interesting. Just last week we had wind gusts up to 55 mph, strong enough to lift the roof of the milk house off.

Works for this NW Vermonter... (Below threshold)
Captain Ned:

Works for this NW Vermonter as well, though for us the smell isn't pine, it's cow manure. State law prohibits spreading the stuff between 12/15 and 4/1, so when 4/1 hits and the manure ponds are past full, the air takes on that lovely perfume.

As a lifer-VTer, that smell not only doesn't bother me, it truly is as significant to my spring as the pines are to yours.

I also agree with epador. Here in VT, as in MI, we suffer through the 5th season. It's one reason why it seems every 3rd car in VT is a Subaru (myself included).

Sorry, but I live in SoCal.... (Below threshold)

Sorry, but I live in SoCal. What are spring and winter?






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