The silo was filled, the combine greased and stored for another year, and frost covered the fields around our farmhouse when my Dad left for deer hunting. He would be gone a week, and he assured us he would return “before we knew it.” And he was right, of course, as soon our unshaven father was back, unloading his suitcase and telling us stories about the northern Michigan woods he walked, the animals he saw, and the people he met.
Listening and laughing, we excitedly watched Dad unpack, my youngest brother clinging to Dad’s legs.
I’m confident you’ve heard of Marie Kondo and her joyful “tidying”: this movement is becoming a cultural phenomenon: She published her first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up in 2014, followed by a companion book, Spark Joyin 2016.
December through February in Michigan we experience something described by local meteorologists as the perma-cloud. As far as I can tell, this simply means days–sometimes weeks–with no sunshine. Period. It’s hard to imagine if you reside in Arizona, or California, or even New Jersey. Here in the mitten we have become so accustomed to the grayness of these months, that when the clouds do occasionally part, it is like hearing the voices of an angels’ chorus. We stop what we are doing, we pause mid-sentence, we look up from our books or smile from our all-wheel-drive cars and trucks.
We Michiganders learn to make our own light during our winters–always seeking a new pastime, a recommended Netflix series, even a new flavor of potato chips.