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THE winter of 2014

I love this winter. It is the winter that could. Over the past few years we’ve had mostly quitter winters. There was one year when the only time we broke out the shovels was for posterity, not for real work. And another year when we were practically picnicking on a sunny, sixty-five degree January day. But this year, this is a real winter.

When it snowed in early December we were quick to get out the sleds and the camera and make the most of it. For all we knew, and recent experience supported this hypothesis, it might have been the only snow we saw the whole season. And the dusting we had for Christmas was a beautiful cherry on top, but we still kept our expectations realistically low.

When we came home from our new years trip up north, driving through blinding, slippery snow at thirty miles an hour on the express way, and had to shovel over a foot of collected snow out of our neglected driveway, we reveled in it. We took pictures of our hard work. We braved the cold and clowned around for the camera because, really, those were the tallest snow piles we’d seen in a long time, and they were likely to be melted before week’s end. That’s January in Michigan, after all.

Except that this wasn’t any ordinary January in Michigan. This winter has far exceeded our expectations. Snow doesn’t melt when it’s negative fifteen outside. Plus...snow on snow on snow on snow. There have been times this winter when we shoveled at least once a day for a week or more. Between our drive and our neighbors’, where the strip of lawn is not very wide, there is now a four foot mesa of snow.

There are mixed views on this winter that wouldn’t quit. Many are tired of it, but you’ll hear no grumbling in our home. Although the temperatures have mostly kept us from enjoying the snow in its element, we’re enjoying it plenty from inside with blazing fires, snuggly blankets, and good books.

And a winter this unusual has all the beauty of the very rare. There have been days of bitter cold when the icy air has turned the world to a glittering land of enchantment, the trees frosty white in a deceptively yellow-orange sunlight. There have been mornings of ice fog. We have watched swirling tornadoes of snow sweep across our yard. We have joyously watched song birds take advantage of the food and ice free water we have provided them.

Of course a winter this unusual also comes with unusual challenges, and if the melting temperatures and rains predicted for next week arrive as scheduled, we may face some of the more damaging of these challenges sooner rather than later. That’s really a lot of water out there.

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