March 13, 2019
The eight-foot snow piles in my backyard next to the driveway are real. The carved-out hamster-runs around my house are necessary. The walk downtown in the sunshine on a subzero, blustery winter day? Beautiful.
We had a late winter in Petoskey, and when the seasonal expectations finally arrived, they haven’t let-up, but to say we hibernate and do nothing is incorrect. A person learns to live in the environment he or she chooses. Whether it be the warmth of the tropics, the three seasons of the mid-latitudes, or the frigid north, we learn to adapt. In Petoskey, that means doing many of the same daily chores we would surmount in the summer. Food has to be procured, so shopping continues. Those who work make their way to the task as always. Teachers teach, chef’s chef, drivers drive and those of us who love to live in a four-season resort, imbibe in its delicacies.
Snowshoeing is my favorite, and the first break in the ice allows my kayak to roam, but what I do the most is walk. Of course, the coat I wear is rated to twenty-below, but I do love to walk. In fact, my writing studio is in Downtown Petoskey so everyday the journey of the manuscript brings me to a cozy environ I share with a window overlooking Little Traverse Bay. I turn on the computer and play R. Carlos Nakai’s Canyon Trilogy while parlaying nouns, verbs, adjectives, and prepositions, along with some dangling participles, into some sensical expression others may enjoy.
There’s a peace to this exercise. No rush. There’s no internet in my studio – on purpose – so as not to get lost in the morass of a wired society. No fax. No smartphone. In fact, I suspect most would find this place most boring, but my adaptation to the long winter is creativity and a mindful sense to enjoy the quiet.
Further along the boundaries of quiet, I can walk into my favorite watering hole and know everyone there. I can wave to those in the corner. Talk to those sitting next to me. And I can say goodbye with a handshake to those arriving as I leave. I can walk home to light candles and read the local paper while cooking dinner and enjoy a nice snifter of scotch or a deep red wine.
There’s always something to achieve if you’re mindful of each season’s ability to relinquish its secret. Winter in Petoskey can be snowy and cold, but the reality of the warmth can be found, not staring at a thermometer, but with your neighbor or loved one. Now, grab that book, the wine, and listen to some music. Relax. It’s winter.