Typically more than 30 inches of snow has fallen in the Great Lakes by mid-January and most of the lakes have accumulated enough ice to hold crowds of fishermen and ice hockey leagues. Usually there are ice bridges on the Great Lakes so snow mobiles can travel to and from the islands. Normally I am bemoaning the frigid temperatures and tell anyone who will listen that January is really the cruelest month. But, due to this year’s weirdly mild temps I feel the awe and excitement brought on by our first cumulative snowfall…in January. It is the epitome of wanting what you cannot have and absence making the heart grow fonder. I was getting a bit disgusted as I watched the mildew patches in my garden widen every week and the spring bulbs sprouting. Although we saved a bit on our heating bill and did not have to shovel the driveway, snowmen were absent, holiday lights were not as splendid as when they reflect off the snow, and when I took my nieces to the park across the road during Christmas break they got muddy.
Snow is caught on every branch and a cotton-like puffy blanket covers our village. Finally, my garden is tucked in and the ground is freezing. People are skiing and sledding for the first time this season and the die-hard haters have begun their “I hate winter” chants in the shops and online forums. This feels familiar and right. What is the point of having four-wheel drive without an icy, snowy winter? State funds for dredging have almost dried up, so what is the point of having a boat if the water is too low to put it in? What is the point of my husband’s ice auger if there isn’t any lake ice to drill through? The companions to an essential Great Lakes winter have arrived and given me hope, just in the nick of time. Funny how hope does that.