Last fall I looked forward to the challenge of a northwest Michigan winter, complete with sub-zero temperatures, blizzards and mountains of snow. In September, I started researching long range weather predictions, and the weather experts were calling for another “warmer than normal” winter. The forecasts were not quite what I was hoping to see.
Winter, indeed, got off to a slow start with a minimal snowfall the last week of November and not much more during early December.
Fortunately we enjoyed a white Christmas, and by New Year’s, winter had gotten underway. Fife Lake froze from shore to shore and ice fishing shanties began to appear. Snowmobiles zipped across the ice and cross-country skiers schussed by at slower speeds.
In late January, a few bold fishermen ventured onto the ice and drove their pickup trucks to favorite angling locations.
The “snow that stays” had arrived, and the piles along our driveway kept growing while the woodpile kept shrinking.
The thermometer recorded -15 below on February 9, which was our record low for the season.
The shoveling, snow blowing and slippery sidewalks were beginning to get tiresome.
Vehicles were covered with salt, and chunks of dirty ice hung from wheel wells.
Potholes dotted the roads like landmines, with the roadsides bordered in waist-high gray frozen mounds. In the first week of March, I began to think spring!
The magical wonder of the little white flakes had waned and rumors of an epidemic of cabin fever circulated among hardy year-round residents.
By the third week of April, the ice began to break up along the shore, and on April 24, a pair of loons returned.
The ice totally left our lake a few days later, breaking winter’s firm grip, and we celebrated its departure.
Flights of mergansers, Buffleheads and Canada geese migrating north stopped in for their annual visit.