Here in Michigan, everyone knows it can snow any day from October to April, and sometimes, even earlier or later than that (I have pictures of it snowing in September). And the Upper Peninsula can have vastly different weather than lower Michigan, especially because of the always cold Lake Superior wind ever present in the area. Still, every time my Facebook memories come up and I see snow in the U.P. early in the winter season I am either surprised, or excited that I’m not up there in it. It is diffidently a love hate relationship that I have with those memories.
After moving to lower Michigan for just a few years, I remember vividly the first winter we moved back to the Upper Peninsula. That was the year (78-79)that the area I lived in, far west Gogebic county about 10 to 15 miles from Lake Superior, received over 250 inches of snow, and other parts of the U.P received over 350 inches of snow. We had a rod-iron decorative fence around our property and that year the top of it was far beneath the snow and you could walk across the lawn like there was no barrier at all. There was an empty lot on the opposite corner of the block we lived on and we kids played king of the hill on it often after school. I remember being at the top of the snow pile and looking down into the second story of the house that was next door, into a bedroom. We had a couple of dogs and they would often climb the snow pile by our garage and then run around on the top of the garage. I dont remember school being closed ever, we just did what we needed to do to get there. The ski hills loved the snow of course, a winter wonderland for sure.
Recently my Facebook page showed me a memory of a few years back when I went home to the U.P. and got stuck driving up my sisters very steep driveway. There was a good 12 to 15 inches of snow, I didn’t think I had lost my Yooper ability to drive in snow, but stuck deep, clearly I had! I had posted a picture with the caption, “Don’t miss this shit!” I looked at the picture of fluffy white clean snow with the sun rays bouncing off of it, then out my office window at the damp and muddy ground, it had been half snowing half raining for several hours and I dreaded going out in the mess to drive home. Maybe I do miss it…. snow that is. I remember cross country skiing to the nearby ski hill, then skiing all day. I remember taking inner tubes down a snowy hill being carful not to slide down to far and go into the road. Snowball fights, lots and lots of snowball fights. Getting snow in the top of your boots, making your ankles cold and socks that slid off inside your boots making you have to take the boots off and put them back on again, often while still in the snow. We never got many snow days in the U.P. you just went to school, but if we were lucky enough to get one we still went out anyway, but to the ski hill instead of school room.
I scanned the other pictures I had posted that day on social media. My husband and kids standing next to a snow pile. My kids throwing snowballs at each other. My sisters crazy ass dog, after having the zoomies, covered in snow, looking like he had been digging for hours in the white fluffy stuff. What if I did miss it? The snow that is. What if I say I do as an excuse for me not going home for a long time? The weather is too crazy, too much snow, I dont like that shit any more. What if I bitch about it because everyone else does, because it is a convenient excuse to not go there to visit? This is the week before Christmas and several more Facebook memories that either myself, or various family members have posted of the snow at home will appear in Facebook memories. I will look at them and smile, and remember the fun and the family. But maybe, instead of saying that I dont miss the shit maybe, I will at least think quietly, I miss this snow.
I’m caught in the middle, a yooper at heart, but a troll for more years than I care to count. People see my Upper Peninsula tattoo and ask if I’m a yooper, most everyone outside of Michigan have no idea what it is a tattoo of, which makes me laugh. When they ask me if I miss “living up there” I usually give a middle answer. “Yes, great place to grow up, but no, you cant make a living.” I haven’t bought a hat in twenty years. My friends say that I’m a yooper so I dont wear hats. People assume I can ski. I can, but haven’t for years. And of course there are the people who have been up there once, or have a kid that goes to school there, and now think they are a yooper too, so not even close. The snow, like being a Yooper is part of who I am, sometimes I love it, like when it is snowing big fluffy flakes and the sun make the flakes shine like stars. Sometimes I hate it, like when its below zero and the snow is wet and makes you cold to your bones. Either way I guess it is what it is and I should start embracing it…. but I think I’ll embrace the pictures of it on Facebook first, at least for this winter.