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Let's Say YES to Winter!

October 05, 2017

(I read this little essay on the NPR Radio station for the Cynthia Canty Stateside Show a couple years ago and forgot to post it on my site until now.)

"Water Winter Wonderland" was proudly printed on Michigan license plates in the boom-time Sixties.

That slogan told the truth: we're an honest to goodness four-season northern state.

Similar regions worldwide embrace this reality, but we seem to be having issues.

I am constantly hearing bad things about winter… Well, I'm taking a stand for winter…and for our state.

To make it easy to return to a love of our Winter Wonderland, let's learn from other places that figured out winter long ago.

First off, for the snowy world around, winter is a wonderful excuse to wear different clothes, and more of them. The endless options for layering and accessories are a fashionista's delight.

And here's another key to winter fun that we can import… "Hygge" (hooga) is the Danish word for "friendly coziness." Once it's cold they cozy-up as often as they can around fireplaces and bonfires with family and friends. It's a major national value for them. It could be for us, too!

There's also the sauna or sweat-lodge - a great gift to us from both Finland and Native Americans. We can get all hot with family and friends, for a heaping helping of hygge, then run out and jump in the snow. It's a way to stay zesty in winter that’s proven reliable for millennia.

But playing outside is the best key to cold weather warmth and fun! Every baby-boomer from the era of those license plates knew this -- and many children still do. (Though fewer than before.)

Most Michiganders suffer from obesity. The biggest cause of this is from our refusal to move enough, especially in winter.

So let's get out there! There's cross-country skiing for fun gliding anywhere there’s snow. Or, you could try ice-fishing. Or, jump on that snowmobile. Hiking works, too. And sledding or ice-skating!

There's even biking! Our winter roads are frequently dry, and temperatures are often moderate on sunny days. Millions of northerners around the world bundle up and keep riding bikes in winter -- we can, too!

Now, maybe you're wondering why I care so much about all of this?

Well, I was born and raised in Michigan, then pursued youthful thrills to California, Maine, Breckenridge and Boulder. When I came back to mid-Michigan, with our huge downstate parks and diverse scenery, I realized how special it is, and that I could enjoy the outdoors here just as much as I did with mountains at my doorstep. But I hear so much "grass is greener" in our downstate area: they say what's great is the mountains or up north or Florida. So I decided to help others see how good we have it right here where we live.

Understanding how to thrive in winter -- and our other 3 seasons, too -- is the only way we Michiganders can enjoy being ourselves.

Once we figure that out, more people will want to move here, stay here, or visit, to join in our fun.

And then Michigan can re-discover what it means to be a Water Winter Wonderland.

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