Right around this time of year, when the holidays end and the Christmas lights go out, is the time when I start to ask myself (and I’m sure I’m not alone), “Why do I live here again?”
It’s cold, it’s dark and the snow, frankly, is losing its charm.
There are plenty of reasons to get annoyed with winter. The roads, the cold, the wind and the short days make life more difficult. But it seems much more useful to focus on the positive sides of life in this habitat.
So, I’ve compiled a list of reasons why life up here in the great white north is worth it. The top seven reasons are:
No. 7: Swans. “Cacophony” has never been better used than to describe the sounds of the trumpeter swans that gather on open water in the winter. It’s just another piece of life in the lakes area that is, simply put, special.
No. 6: The sounds the ice makes. I’ll start this one by saying how frightening it is, even after three years, for me to drive out on the ice (and no, I haven’t done that yet this year). Even to stand on the ice and listen to it pop and crack puts me on edge.
But the sounds the ice makes as the air temperature changes are amazing. It’s like the lake is singing — and the sound itself is unique and magical. When visitors come in the winter, I try to take them out on the ice when the sun is setting and the temperature is dropping, and then make them stand there until they hear it, because I don’t think they’ll hear anything like it anywhere else.
No. 5: That hardcore feeling. Think back to some time (probably recently) when you were cross country skiing, chopping wood, snowmobiling or hiking out on the lake to set up an ice fishing house. Do you remember how you felt when the day was over and you were warming up? Exhausted, yet accomplished.
It’s easy to do things in the summer, when the outdoors are so accessible, but we all deserve a pat on the back when we go out in below-zero wind chill to do the things we love, or the things that simply need to be done.
One of the most remarkable things about living up here, to me, is how life goes on even when it is so cold. When I wake up and it’s 20 below outside, my gut says, “Go back to bed. There’s no reason you should leave this safe, warm place.” But we all get out of bed anyway. We go to work, we go to the grocery store and we pump gas. Even those little things, in such cold weather, are accomplishments.
No. 4: The lakes. Even in the winter they continue to be an asset and perfect playground. Name what you want to do: skiing, snowmobiling, fishing or spearing — you can do it all on the lakes.
No. 3: Crisp, clear nights. “Crisp” may be too optimistic a term; let’s call them “biting” instead. Yes, the cold of a clear night is deeper, more penetrating than any other cold. But have you noticed how the stars shine brighter? That they twinkle with the ice crystals in the air?
And let’s not forget the northern lights. Shorter days mean longer nights and that means more opportunity to see the northern lights, perhaps one of the greatest natural phenomena on earth.
No. 2: The solitude. The quiet and calm of winter in our area is unmatched. The population is lowered and the clouds are muffling the soundless falling of shimmering snowflakes. The world is quiet, sparkling and at peace.
No. 1: Drum roll, please. The No. 1 reason why life up north in the winter is fantastic has nothing to do with being outside — it’s being pushed inside.
The time we get with friends in the winter is special. Forcing ourselves indoors can also carry us to our friends’ houses, to card games or to sitting at a table together and sharing stories.
There you have it: seven reasons to like winter life here, which I’ll have to remind myself consistently of through February.
The holidays are over, but you know how the song goes. “The weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful. And, since we’ve no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.”