In the winter there is very little traffic in Door County. The population shrinks, and once it gets dark, people tend to stay in. More than once last winter, after an evening event we drove the eighteen miles home from Sturgeon Bay and did not pass one car on the highway.
Months ago, on a January afternoon, we spied a bird that we couldn’t identify. The snow banks were high, so Dave just stopped the car in the middle of the road- a main road, a county highway. With the car engine off, he pulled out binoculars, studied the bird. Five minutes passed, and then finally a car drove by us. She passed us; we waved. She then turned around to come back and chat about the bird. For a while then, there were two stopped cars in the middle of the road, but we blocked no other cars as we sat together watching, studying that spot in the trees in the middle of that winter afternoon. ( It was probably a Cooper’s Hawk.)
But things have changed and summer is coming on. Tourists are arriving. People have come back to their summer cottages; they are cleaning up, airing out their musty second homes. The motels are open. Restaurant owners have returned from Florida; they have planted flowers, spruced up their places with new paint, posted their menus outside. The kayak outfitters have brought their boats out of storage, and the golf carts on the courses are now visible and ready for customers.
Door County is two places: the summer one and the winter one. The summer one is perfect of course, it’s why people return year after year and why new tourists flock. It’s why we moved here. The blue water on every side, the flowers, the art, the quiet, the sunsets, the music, the cows and the cherries, the beaches: what’s not to love?
The gulls and the terns are back fishing:
Did I mention the spring cherry blossoms? Spectacular..
There is space to do nothing; there are places to do everything. Yet, as the highways are now filling with cars (as highways are prone in most places to do,) I find myself missing the emptiness of the Door County-winter-place.
I do prefer the smell of the lilacs and the daylight that lasts way into the night and the warmth of the sun on my back as I garden, but I find myself just a little bit wistful for the quiet of winter. I guess this proves I love it here. The summer-one, of course, but now the winter-one, too.