Editor's note: This article was published in Grand Traverse Scene magazine's Winter 2019 issue. Pick up a free copy at area hotels, visitor's centers, chambers of commerce or at the Record-Eagle building on Front Street. Click here to read GT Scene in its entirety online.
It snowed the day I moved to northern Michigan with my late husband.
It was April, and we were from downstate, where winters are shorter and milder, and ice more common than snow.
We were giddy with excitement and a little apprehensive, wondering just what it was we’d let ourselves in for. It felt like a grand adventure — as if we were braving the Yukon winter for the promise of gold.
When real winter came, we were enthralled by the culture of ice shanties and snowmobiles, seasonal roads and winter emergency kits. By piles of snow so high we could play “King of the Mountain” on them with our dogs. By roads covered with pristine white fluff instead of dingy gray slush and by sand, instead of salt, to melt it.
We trekked across frozen lakes and wilderness parks in snowshoes and skis, cut down a Christmas tree in the woods and dragged it home Norman Rockwell-style.
“You just have to find something you like to do outside,” I advised newcomers to the area.
There were scary times, too; near-misses of the kind we all experience if we live “Up North” long enough.
Once my truck went into sled mode as it started down a long hill, spinning in lazy circles until finally coming to a stop in a ditch, facing the oncoming lane. Another time we were caught in a white-out so thick it obliterated my husband’s tail lights as we caravanned home. He slammed into a snowdrift; I slammed into him.
Still, my enthusiasm for winter was only dampened, not extinguished. In the years that followed I embraced everything winter, from food to festivals. I still tell newcomers that the key to enjoying the season is to celebrate it in all its forms.
With that in mind, we share in this issue some of our favorite cold-weather traditions, from vineyard snowshoeing that takes you from trail to table, to day-tripping in a winter sports paradise. We introduce you to artists whose chilly work reflects beauty in ice and to chefs who heat up the kitchen with their warming creations. Finally we offer savvy tips for shopping and finding the perfect book, and leave you with an essay on feeding the critters — northern Michigan style.
— Marta Hepler Drahos