Spring Is on the Way

spring barn

Spring is on the way.

fresh snow-08

We can’t see the grass anywhere, and the snowdrifts are still up to my collar bones, but spring is on the way.

It may still look and feel just like winter, but I can tell. I know all the signs.

These sweet girls visited us on their Spring Break, and we did all kinds of spring things, like sledding, snowy hiking, and ice caving.

Also, we just celebrated the transition to Daylight Saving Time, colloquially called “Spring Forward,” so it must be almost spring.

And it’s the middle of March, which is when spring arrives. So it’s definitely on its way.

The pavement pieces that tile our road were clear for two days, so spring is sure to arrive soon.

Why just today we went skiing and then hiking through snowpack – two quintessential springtime activities.


The lakes are still frozen solid, and the winds bring frostbite in moments.

moonrise

But there’s light in the sky until 9:00pm.

post sunset

And it did rain the other day. So yes, spring really is on its way. It’s just that it could be winter again by time it arrives.

A note about my sanity: I’m not really that upset about this winter. It’s been beautiful, as you can see from this slew of photos, mostly taken during this morning’s sunrise over the fresh snow. It’s surely been a long, cold winter, but it hasn’t been without its rewards. We’ll enjoy whatever weather comes our way, and will savor the springtime even more when it does arrive. In July. ;)

Also, many thanks to my Crazy (formerly) Goan Friend for the nudge to write again :)

Adventure and Routine – A Restorative Weekend

I meant to write this last night, but since I was feeling so mellow from the weekend, it didn’t happen. We didn’t have the kind of weekend where you stay in and bury yourselves in books, but we also didn’t have the kind of weekend where you explore 15 new places. Instead, we did a little exploring, a little winter routine, and none of it on a schedule. By the time Sunday evening arrived, I was feeling refreshed and ready for Monday (or “today” if you’re on this side of the world).

Saturday afternoon we roused ourselves for a hike. We settled on Pyramid Point, because it has a nice view, and we hadn’t been since July. The road situation is a bit different in the area this time of year. Last time I drove my sister’s little front-wheel drive car down a two-track with no problem (well, except that we had to take said two-track because I briefly got us lost). The other day, I could only spot the road because the top foot or so of the road-marker pokes out of piled and drifted snow.

We parked at the bottom of the road the trail is on, and hiked up to the trailhead…to begin our hike. I knelt in the snow for a close-up of some dried Queen Anne’s Lace, convinced it was the only decent shot I’d get for the day thanks to dense cloud cover and intermittent swirling snow.

After the short climb, we reached the Lake Michigan overlook, and though the view isn’t what I’ve come to expect, it was spectacular in its way.

Guess which one was from July – even though it was 57 and raining that day :(


Fine snow poured through our duration at the top (admittedly brief) so that we never did glimpse the horizon. What you can see in the left image is a break in the ice, which now coats nearly 50% of the lake’s surface.

Back in the warm confines of our car, I noted that sunset is now happening at nearly 6:00, and that we had time for some beach exploration if Tony and Petey were game. They were.

Considering the impending sunset, we knew our time on the ice would be short. Since it’s such a novel world though, every find is unique and exciting, making even a quick trip worth the effort. With the shore in this condition, I feel like I’m visiting a polar region. Icebergs sit perched and cracked on top of yet more ice, some of which you can see Lake Michigan’s teal through, and some of which expands out in little white pancakes toward the horizon.


Ice caves yawn at the west toward previously incoming waves, their savage maws nonetheless inviting you in. I answer their call. Eventually, the sky darkens enough that we call it a night before someone breaks an ankle (again).

Yesterday (I’m sure because we had gone adventuring on a cloudy day) dawned bright and blue, so we geared up for a morning of skiing. Though fiercely cold, the groomed trails were a blast, and I hope it stays just a touch warmer so we can get out more often. After a late lunch at the best brew-pub in existence, we returned home for a little snow shoveling followed by an afternoon walk. Most of our route was beautiful and sedate, with the exception of the biting winds when we faced west.

Oh yes, we also saw a veritable herd of turkeys…nearly four dozen!


And though only a few crepuscular rays shone through in the west as the sun set, the east held a lovely pink tinge, a gentle ending for a gentle weekend.

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Because it’s the weekend and we can, Tony (and Petey) and I decided we’d go for another beach-combing adventure this afternoon. Sure, the skies were grey and it was cold – single digits again plus wind – but we could still have fun.

Knowing we’d be traipsing through snow and on the coast exposed to unmitigated gusts, we dressed in our ski clothes. We laughed along the way at the height of the snow drifts. We noticed one mailbox completely encrusted in snow; it had literally been dug out of a drift, with at least four feet piled above it. And at least one place had drifts that were a couple feet higher than the roof of the car.

Driving conditions that typified the afternoon. These are relatively low drifts…
driving

It was all silly “Hahaha, isn’t life Up North funny sometimes?” until we got to the beach. And couldn’t see the horizon at all because the snow had so intensified.

Icebergs and icy pilings in Glen Haven – contrast exaggerated so you can see the horizon

If there were a decent trail, we might have stayed to explore, but with such a downpour Petey kept shaking to clear his head, and the photos are all littered with white blurs. While we were out, though, Petey had a good time chasing balls of ice. He’d have stayed gnawing on his catch, but we knew it was time to go when his hind legs began shivering.


Ah well. You win some, you lose some. We had a few good days earlier in the week (I’ll share photos and details at some point!), and we’re all still healthy and happy (relatively – Dominique is having a dental issue…), so for now, Life is Good :)

Avoiding Cabin Fever

I’ve mentioned before how cabin fever sets in quickly for me. We have a very cold (I haven’t heard anyone trot out the now-infamous “polar vortex” terminology, but it’s that cold again) week, with very little by way of direct sunlight. I’m not sure what we’re going to do to avoid my rapid-onset cabin fever. Perhaps some variation of the weekend.

We didn’t do anything extravagant, beyond making excuses to eat Polish food. But if you’ve had good Polish food, you’ll understand that even though it takes an hour in the car to get there, it doesn’t take a strong excuse to pull us away from home. This time, we tacked shopping for Petey onto the to-do list, and headed north.

I’m not sure why Traverse City doesn’t have a specialty pet shop. It has a PetSmart, but you’d think that there’d be a shop here with hand-dyed organic fiber dog clothes and vegan treats. Or something. But we had to go to Petoskey for such a treasure. And yes, I’m making fun of a place that I’m grateful exists. Because we got Petey a winter coat at PetSmart, and I’ve already had to use fabric glue to hold it together, and he only uses it on tame leash-walks. So. New coat from the very nice folks (seriously, the owner fed Petey a treat that he was holding between his teeth!) at a snooty pet shop – check :)

Being that the food and coat were the sole items on outhe long walkr agenda, we aimed back home after a brief walk about town. On our way, we stopped at the north end of Torch Lake to check out the ice – plenty of it, but it’s not frozen over yet. And since there’s that whole cabin fever thing, we drove across the street the other way to check out the beach at the end of Traverse Bay road.

The plowed portion of the road ended abruptly and the rest was passable only for foot traffic and snowmobiles. We hitched up our pants and decided to give Petey’s new threads a spin. Half a mile later and we were at the beach. Or “beach,” since the shore is a chain of ice mountains and ice volcanoes, and even the occasional iceberg. But, I am happy to report, this beach – a rock hound’s dream – boasted some exposed stones, including a few petoskeys.


It also boasted an inordinate number of crawfish parts along with a dead bird or so tossed in for variety. Petey couldn’t care less about the blue exoskeletons, but he was mesmerized by the gull remains – which we of course wouldn’t let him explore. He probably thought I was far too into the little crabby things. Fair’s fair.

The sun knifed its way through a split in the clouds, adding some drama to an otherwise flat landscape. And though it was brief, it was a pleasant reminder that the sun is still up there, behind all those snow-making clouds.

Traverse Bay winter beach panorama

Yesterday was a similar story. We lazed around the house until after lunch, and then made the trek into Traverse City for groceries and a dinner date with a friend. We padded along the icy pier at Clinch Marina, again grateful for a sun that we never actually saw.
Clinch Marina - Traverse City

Clinch Marina - Traverse City-2

Isn’t it interesting that even in the winter the beach can be so restorative? We didn’t spend much time at the water’s edge, but felt refreshed for having visited. And doesn’t Petey look dashing digging in his new coat? ;)

Quick Trip to Maple Bay

About a month ago, Tony and I tried to take Petey for a walk at Maple Bay, but were stymied by snow drifts that reached partly up the car doors. Having learned that lesson previously, we went elsewhere. However, we’d driven by recently, and I thought the drive looked plowed. I decided to give it another go today.

When I arrived, the drive was cleared down to the pebbles – perfectly safe for a gal and her pup. We pawed our way down the treacherous snow path that descends toward the beach. (Aside for those unfamiliar with snowpack: sure, it all looks roughly the same, but it’s not. When the snow is fresh, it can have all kinds of different textures ranging from slippery/oily to dry and fluffy. After it piles up significantly, it packs in and get denser. Following a couple of warm days, the surface melts and refreezes, leaving behind an icy shell of varying thickness that is as slippery as you’d think. This is what we were walking on toward the beach :( ) But the trail isn’t long, and soon we were on flatter grounds.

Maple Bay

Shortly after we alit onto the beach, the predicted snow arrived, hastening our departure. We meandered a little. I just wanted to see if the beach was walkable (yes, depending on your standards), and get the dog out for a bit. Besides, we’d just spent all afternoon on icy beaches. Also, I know a bad omen when I see one. The algae were cool in their own way – looking like overblown bacteria. But the fish – two carcasses, actually, with the one’s head as big as my hand – signaled that it was officially (o-fish-ally?) time to go.

Okay, so I don’t really believe in bad omens and such. I’m just not superstitious. Are you?