Winter’s beauty is in the eye of the Michigander

Enough is enough.

Sometimes, that is hard for a news junkie like myself to admit, but, every now and again, I just need a break from reality and I find myself reading trivial but interesting facts.

Two sites I stumbled upon this month both dealt with winter in Michigan.

The first, from MoneyGeek, came to the conclusion that Michigan was the most dangerous state to drive in during the winter. The conclusion was based on U.S. Department of Transportation statistics regarding winter weather wrecks. Not only was Michigan the most dangerous in winter, the second most dangerous state — Pennsylvania — wasn’t even close when comparing the number of winter wrecks over a three-year average.

That information actually supported another site, Thrillist, which listed Michigan as having the second-worst winter weather in the nation.

Actually, their portrayal was too good not to share, so here is what they had to say about our state this time of year:

“Winter in Michigan begins well before Thanksgiving and stretches far past Easter, which makes for four-to-six wearisome months of always-gray, always-cold, always-drizzly, but-rarely-snowy-in-a-good-way misery,” they reported.

“Some other states may see colder temps or more snow, but Michigan winters are unrivaled for their utter lack of sunshine. The ceaseless cloud cover begins in October, and envelopes the state in a daily sense of gloom that only worsens when the apathetic sun slouches below the horizon at quarter-to-five.

“For the Michigander, this is winter: you leave work at 5 or 6, already in the dead of night, and fight your way down 94 or 96 or 75 or whatever Godforsaken stretch of highway. You can’t even tell if it is drizzling rain or snow, because the brown salt sludge that sprays up off the road coats your windshield more completely than anything that falls from the sky.

“Overnight, the road freezes. In the morning you wake up and it is still dark. You scrape off your car, then get stuck in traffic as the cars ahead of you gawk at the SUV that has slid into the ditch. You actually look forward to a proper snowfall, just to cover the dirt. Even then, you do not go skiing, because there are no hills.

“In early April you convince yourself it is spring because it is Tigers Opening Day. You overpay for tickets to the game, tell yourself 45 degrees isn’t that cold, and cheer when the sun peeks out at the end of the fourth inning. That is the light at the end of the tunnel. Winter in Michigan is a miserable, miserable time.”

I chuckle, because I guess it all is a matter of perspective. I will admit, I’m not one who loves winter all that much, but I accept it and appreciate it for what it is. The way I see it winter is just a part of living Up North — there is no getting around it. And, surviving every winter is what makes those of us who call this region home “unique” and “special.” We’re survivors. Living here year-round is not necessarily for the faint of heart.

Spending winter in Michigan just means you have to be “smarter than the average bear” when it comes to driving. Things like ensuring your vehicle is running properly, keeping your gas tank filled, carrying an emergency kit, and driving with tires that have good tread are essential.

Other suggestions to keep with you in the car during winter include: a spare tire, snow shovel, ice scraper, jumper cables, sand or kitty litter, flashlight, blanket, tools, snack foods, water, medications and, these days, probably a cell phone charger.

And, just for the sake of balance and fairness, the good folks at Pure Michigan weighed in on the Thrillist finding, pointing out that not all winter in Michigan is brown road salt and cold weather.

“Luckily, Pure Michigan’s abundant ski and snowboard slopes, snowshoe and mountain biking trails and plenty of other seasonal fun make it an excellent place to enjoy the season. Lets Winter!”

And don’t forget snowmobiling and ice fishing.

Without a doubt, winter is here. Make the most of it this year.

Bill Speer can be reached at 989-354-3111, ext. 311, or bspeer@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @billspeer13.


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