This has been the weirdest winter. That is not a complaint, mind you, just an observation.
For weeks now, I have looked out the window and it looked like, well, March. There was grass. Many days there was sun. It wasn’t quite gardening weather, although my lilac bushes were being tempted to bud.
Winter is back now. Small car skidding occasionally on the snow on top of ice on the roads. Fresh blowing snow to coat the most recent snowfall. Salt for the walk and the porch steps. Reminding the cheerful children shoveling to make a path for the mailman, too. (We would anyway, but I especially like our mailman; he’s a big hockey fan.)
For the last few years, I have been accustomed to winter. This was a long time coming. Growing up, I hated winter. It was cold. Everything was brown and gray. Did I mention the awful cold?
Then we moved 500 miles north, to Midland.
At least I knew what snow looked like before I came. We didn’t get a lot in Kentucky, but we did get it several times a year.
A transplant friend of mine at Midland High had moved up from Texas, in January no less, and told me how when he first saw snow here, he didn’t know what it was. Here were these pathetic things that melted in your hand! He asked his dad what it was and got one of those “you idiot” looks.
But this couldn’t be snow, my friend explained to me. In the books, the flakes were three inches across, with beautiful separate rays.
I had gotten a similar reaction from my dad when we drove into Michigan for the first time. I am very bad at identifying crops, but I knew corn and tobacco. And here we were, after hours in Indiana, and I thought we were in Michigan by now, but I didn’t see any factories.
Puzzled, I turned to my dad. “What’s this stuff growing by the road?” I asked.
I got a very patient, “It’s corn, Beth,” from an engineer who refrained from pointing out I had been driving by corn for 17 years now.
“Are we still in Indiana?”
Somehow in all the preparation for The Big Move, the school registration and newspaper subscription and the like, my parents had forgotten to mention that there was more to Michigan than snow and factories. Corn was about the last thing I had expected to see.
The yellow squirrels were the next shock, but let’s save those for another day.
This post originally appeared on ourMidland.com, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.