WILTSE: Tolerating Michigan winters

Sep 22, 2011

We had the sprinkler out exactly one day. We hosed the flower beds down a few times, but it required a minimal amount of water. It rained just at the right times all summer — and mostly at night, too. We had a little heat wave in August, but nothing intolerable, compared to the rest of the country. Also, we lost a few branches and trees in thundershowers, but nothing to get excited about — like we usually do.

We also had a little bit of flooding, but nothing to speak of. The folks residing along the river in Robinson Township didn’t even complain too loudly as they usually do in the spring.

It appears that we are in for a beautiful autumn, too.

I dread the winter, however. I don’t look forward to the cold and the snow and slush. The winter is the only reason I would ever consider moving elsewhere.

I didn’t always feel that way, however. When I could still ski, I actually looked forward to winter, as I can imagine that a lot of people still do.

Then again, winters here aren’t all that bad. I have been living close to Grand Haven for about 48 years and I don’t believe the temperature has dipped below zero any more than five times.

Also, one must, in my opinion, suffer through a winter to better appreciate our magnificent summers. It is sort of like appreciating a good steak — they are always good, but if one goes a few days without eating much, then a steak is that much better.

I don’t think I would care to move to any other part of the country.

We really don’t have it too bad here in West Michigan. The states immediately to our west have much more brutal winters. The presence of the lake makes our winters somewhat mild. Moreover, the snowfall in the Dakotas and Minnesota lately have been so great that the spring thaws have led to serious flooding. If I were to move anywhere, it wouldn’t be to the west of Michigan.

I wouldn’t go to any of the Plains states for fear of being blown apart by tornadoes. Joplin, Mo., practically got wiped out. The Plains are a good place to pass through on your way out West, but hope you don’t get caught up in a whirlwind on your way there. 

While out West, you wouldn’t want to stay long for fear that an earthquake would shake the ground out from under you or drop a mountain on you. Neither the Plains states nor the far West appeal to me.

The Southwest seems like a nice place to go if you want to be fried to a crisp or die of thirst. Scores of people in Texas have been literally burnt out of house and home.

I have some friends who flew out of Mesa, Ariz., leaving its 116 degree heat. They said that it is dry heat, though. I don’t care how dry it is; 116 is hot — too hot for me.

I wouldn’t want to live in the South for fear of being Katrina’d to death. It seems as though hurricanes are becoming less frequent, but more intense than ever. Hurricanes are a good thing to stay far away from.

The entirety of the Eastern states are vulnerable to hurricanes; witness what happened in Vermont this past summer. Also, the Eastern states have those vicious nor’easters that seem to occur every year. I don’t know why they are called nor’easters, for they seem to originate in the Carolinas and work their way north. They should be called sou’westers.

Upon looking about me in every direction, I can’t think of a better place to live than right here in West Michigan. Come to think of it, our winters aren’t that bad. I can tolerate them all the better to appreciate our magnificent summers.

At least our winters aren’t dangerous, except for driving. Even driving in winter isn’t bad as long as you keep your wits about you and take it easy. So I’ll spend the winter reading and dreaming of the daffodils and flowering crabs of next spring.

— By Ralph Wiltse, Tribune community columnist

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