Every winter, some northern Michigan residents grumble about how treacherous roads are, how slippery sidewalks can get, how cold it is outside.

Snow arrived in earnest this week, driven by a cold front that swept across Lake Michigan like a gigantic mop pushing clouds from Wisconsin to Michigan and dumping snow on the beach like dust into a kitchen corner.

Roads now are snow-covered and slippery. Furnaces are working harder to keep living rooms warm. Snow blowers and shovels are busy keeping sidewalks and driveways serviceable. Moving around the world is more difficult with snow under our boots and tires, and we need to bundle up to keep from shivering.

But we’re lucky compared to people who live in many other places.

Consider the thousands of Colorado residents who last week had to flee their homes when confronted with a deadly wall of flames racing across suburbs between Denver and Boulder. Some had only moments to grab children and run for their lives. As of this writing, two people still were missing, possibly dead. The blaze rolled through neighborhoods at high speed, destroying homes, businesses, cars, playground equipment, baseball card collections, family photos.

The destruction eventually ended. On Wednesday, a blanket of snowfall 4 to 8 inches deep covered the scorched earth just west of Denver. But it couldn’t conceal the devastation of the destroyed suburbs.

Michiganders on that day awoke to snow, too. But our homes were still intact. We still had roofs over our heads.

Michigan residents who have fireplaces still can gaze into controlled flames radiating heat across the room to a comfy sofa where they sit holding a mug of hot cocoa. Then they can glance at a window to admire winter’s beauty.

Yes, northern Michigan drivers need to be careful on slippery roads. We need to wear coats and hats to keep warm. We need to adjust our daily routines to account for snowstorms.

But we rarely need to run for our lives from towering walls of flame. Nor do we regularly need to shelter from hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes, mudslides, volcanic eruptions or avalanches.

We instead face the more leisurely threat of snowstorms. They’re usually predictable, so we have time to change travel plans, charge up cellphones, make sure we have gas for the snow blower, enough food to last a couple of days, flashlights and candles in case a power line is knocked down.

The worst that usually happens, even during a major winter storm, is that we lose power for a few hours, commerce is interrupted for a day, and we need to hunker down at home. Some unlucky few each year suffer property damage or worse during a storm. Terrible things sometimes do happen in northern Michigan, like fatal road crashes, serious falls on icy walks, carbon monoxide poisonings and deaths from exposure — but those thankfully seem to be relatively few.

The damage from a typical Michigan snowstorm lags far behind the destruction of 1,000 homes from a wildfire.

We count ourselves lucky to live a region that, though it may be cold in the winter, suffers few major disasters.

And snowstorms definitely have their good points. They drape the forest in a lovely garment of white. They give outdoor enthusiasts all sorts of opportunities for recreation. The moisture they contain helps fill the Great Lakes.

So pull on your coat, boots and hat, and go outside to brave the cold.

Enjoy the beauty of a northern Michigan winter.

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