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PAINTER: Coping with weather extremes takes a lot of patience

• Jan 8, 2018 at 1:00 PM

A Facebook friend of mine recently posted this about winter: “The best part of winter is when it ends.” Another friend commented that “Mother Nature is angry at us.”

I agree 100 percent with my friends. So far, this has been a brutal winter.

I am not a fan of the cold, especially when we have had such frigid temperatures as we have had this winter.

I know there are some of you who love the cold and snow because it gives you opportunities to enjoy winter sports. That’s fine. I am too old for ice skating, skiing and other winter sports. I prefer taking our dogs for walks when temperatures are at least above freezing.

But, that’s what we get for choosing to live in Michigan. We know during most winters there are going to be mounds of snow and bitter cold temperatures. Last winter probably was an aberration.

We also know that the weather can affect our health and well-being, according to a blog written by Carolyn Gregoire that appeared on huffingtonpost.com. 

Gregoire wrote:” Seasonal affective disorder is a real affliction — though many of us joke about having it during winter months — and (winter) can make living in colder climates a challenge for many people.” Those who suffer from S.A.D. are afflicted by the lack of sunshine, Gregoire said.

While I don’t feel I suffer from S.A.D., I certainly don’t feel as energetic during the winter months as I do during the summer months. Most of us probably feel the same way.

My wife, Marilyn, and I have been on both ends of the spectrum when it comes to weather extremes. We lived in Texas for about six years. After three years of living in Texas, we became homesick and wanted to return to Michigan

In the fall of 1978, we moved to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where I accepted a job at the Marquette Mining Journal. The winter of 1979 was one of the most brutal on record. We had some days where the temperatures were 35 below.

We lived in a poorly insulated cabin near Lake Superior. It got so cold on some mornings that our new car wouldn’t start. I had to hitchhike to work.

One day particularly stands out in my memory. The U.S. Olympic ski jump team was to compete in a ski jump competition in nearby Ishpeming that February. My colleague, Sally Schumacher, and I worked out of the Mining Journal’s Ishpeming office, and our sports department decided that the ski jumping tournament should be covered by the Ishpeming bureau. They obviously knew it was going to be very cold.

It just so happens that the competition was held on a day when the temperature hit 35 below. It didn’t get much warmer during the day.

But the best was yet to come. In late March, the Marquette area was hit with a snowstorm that dumped nearly 2 feet of snow in the area. I was working on the desk in Marquette when the storm hit.

The storm was so severe that Friday and Saturday’s publications were stored in the basement because the roads were too precarious for our delivery drivers and carriers.

I was stuck in the office for two days, unable to return home. Meanwhile, Marilyn had to endure the heat going out at the cabin, and cuddled with our cats under a blanket.

That spring, the editor in Del Rio, Texas, offered me a promotion as news editor and was able to get Marilyn a teaching job. We accepted the offer. When we left Marquette in late May, there was still snow on the ground.

Marilyn and I were happy to be leaving the cold behind, but little did we know what awaited us. Del Rio is generally hot during the summers, but the summer of 1979 was one of the hottest summers on record. We had at least two months of temperatures 100 and above.

So, looking back at our adventures, both of us have managed to tolerate the brutal cold. Even our dogs are starting to get used to the cold.

We know that we usually have pretty nice summers, so we’re looking forward to this summer. Keep your fingers crossed that the summer of 2018 will be a wonderful one. Meanwhile, stay warm and positive.

— By Len Painter, Tribune community columnist

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