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Making peace with winter — and snowdogs, too

• Feb 26, 2019 at 3:00 PM

I take a bit of pride in being a Michigander who doesn’t flee when the snows flies, but who looks it in the eye and says “bring it.” But sometimes winter can be a lot to deal with, right?

Icy roads. Constant shoveling. We’re not even going to mention the roof rake.

I admit it. I’m a little envious of my parents, who are enjoying the sunshine and golf outings in Arizona right now. But it’s easy to complain about winter and start planning an escape to a more pleasant climate. Sometimes it’s good to take a deep, cleansing breath, step back and think of it a bit differently.

I have decided to make peace with winter. Why fight it? One way to make peace with it is to simply embrace its upside, so I’ve been getting out and doing winter stuff like skiing.

In the past, my dad and I have cross-country skied the trails at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park in Muskegon and Rycenga Park, which is located in Spring Lake Township and Fruitport Township along Hemlock Road. At each of these parks, you can either take longer trails or just go for a quick outing. However, you need to bring your own skis.

Recently, I discovered a couple of amazing parks for cross-country skiing. The first one is Pigeon Creek Park, which is in West Olive. It has groomed and lit cross-country ski trails, so you can ski in the early evening. It also offers ski and snowshoe rentals, and even a sledding hill. 

After exploring the trails, you can warm up by the cozy stone fireplace at the Pigeon Creek Park Lodge and sip some hot chocolate or try a cup of steaming chili and a hot dog.

The next one is Hemlock Crossing. In addition to cross-country skiing at the park’s Nature Center, you can rent snowshoes and take a guided walk. There’s a program calendar on the Ottawa County Parks website (miottawa.org/EventRegistration/loadCalendar) that shows when the winter guided walks are scheduled.

Set along the Pigeon River with more than 6 miles of trails winding through the forest, Hemlock Crossing is a great place to take some winter photos. After exploring the trails, you can take off your mittens and “defrost” by the fireplace in the Great Room.

The county parks are a great way to experience the positive side of winter. You can check the trail conditions at miOttawa.org/Trails.

Another fun thing to do is to make a snowman. A few weeks ago, while I was at my brother and sister-in-law’s house in East Grand Rapids, we made a snowman. The snow was perfect for packing, and we teamed up to construct our version of Frosty. I also made a “snowdog” for their dog — a cute puggle named Harley (whose squirrel-chasing, food-stealing, stuffed animal-destroying antics could fill an entire column). It didn’t require going anywhere in the car or spending money.

Although the snowman and snowdog melted the next day, this was a great way to get outdoors and make something together.

This is the yin and yang of winter. It has its challenges, but it also gives us things to celebrate.

Spring is just around the corner anyway, and pretty soon we’ll be back to mowing, counting pollen and popping allergy meds.

About the writer: Carrie Brown is a freelance communications professional and writer who lives in Spring Lake. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan, where she won the Avery Hopwood Award for Poetry.

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