During our first winter in Wisconsin, I distinctly remember taking a walk under a blue sky in a snow-covered field with my neighbor. I was bundled up in several layers and was shivering. The temperature was in the mid 20’s. “This is my favorite kind of weather,” she said. Then she added,” maybe even more favorite than summer.”
I think at that point I told her she was crazy. I remember thinking, who could ever like a day like this?
Now, three winters later, I have grown to like some winter days. I can almost agree that a 20-degree, blue-sky day is pretty wonderful. When the temperature is 30 or even 40 in the winter, it is notoriously overcast. Skies and fields are grey. Life seems dismal and drab, and because of the ever present Great Lake in our backyard, damp. But temps in the 20’s mean blue skies. Especially if there is no wind, it’s pretty great to tromp in the snow among evergreens.
Animal tracks are visible, and we can see who shares our land.
Birds chirp. And as long as I am wearing the right socks and warm mittens, and as long as I have a few layers and a warm coat, I am truly not cold. I can walk for miles in nearby fields and in the woods or at the water’s edge and revel in the quiet beauty of winter.
I am also learning to appreciate the different kinds of snow. Tiny flaked or big flaked.
Wet and heavy, or powdery like fine sugar. There is snow that drifts and makes patterns reminiscent of sand dunes or eroded rock.
There is snow that glistens and flashes like a million shards of light in the sun. Occasionally, the footprints from the day before seem to glow with an ethereal light as the afternoon light fades and it grows dusky.
So, until the polar vortex hit us a few days ago, I thought perhaps I was adjusting to Wisconsin winters. And then, two things happened. First, along with most of the upper Midwest, we have been housebound with the extreme cold and wind chills that are between -35 and -50. Even locals are staying in and admitting it’s cold.
Secondly, my neighbor ( the same one) told me with a little touch of sadness and nostalgia there were snows in her childhood when the snow piled as high as the telephone poles. “Those were good years,” she said, and once again, I felt like telling her she was crazy. I still have a ways to go, apparently, in adjusting to Wisconsin winters.