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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

fire and ice



We've had snowfall already, a couple of inches on the ground.

I remember hearing a man who moved here from Arizona gripe, "Every time I say 'hi' to someone they say something about the weather!" and I realized I had never once thought it odd that here in Michigan our prime topic for small talk is meteorology. It just is. We talk about weather here because it's dramatic, unpredictable, annoying, inconvenient and for some of us, why we stay.

I love the four seasons in Michigan. We lived in Pasadena, California five years, which is where our kids were born. As lovely as palm trees and birds of paradise are, there was too much concrete for me. "L.A. is a great big freeway . . ."

Also, I missed the drama. You might rightly ask, No drama in L.A.? All those mudslides, earthquakes, Santana winds? And oh so horrific wildfires that devour millions of acres of brush, trees and houses. Yes, but I don't want that kind of drama.

I'd rather have the fiery reds and golds of autumn, the cold, snow and dormancy of winter, and the exhilerating birth of spring in the North. I've never quite understood why people complain about the cold weather here. Why do they stay, I wonder? Well, maybe they don't have much choice. It's a lot of work to relocate. And maybe they'd miss the drama too but won't admit it.

In spite of extra time and effort putting on boots, scarves, gloves, hats and coats (and all that multiplied by however many children you have), in spite of the sloshy yuck of puddles on the street, despite icy roads driving all the way in to the university, I adore winter in Michigan.

When a walk in the meadow is quiet from two feet of snow absorbing sound, muffling the scrunch of my bootfalls. When trees are bare of leaves, revealing black or blonde bones ending in fine fingers against a white sky. When snowflakes as big and downy as duck feathers float down in rapid succession. When the pond is frozen for sliding, spazzing, falling and laughing. When skating 'round and 'round an ice rink becomes meditation under city lights. When building a fort of snow-ice bricks makes my brothers and me feel like Eskimos before transforming into soldiers with snowball amunition. When blue moonlight reflects off snow-covered ground and a light in the window warms the house, calling me home to Don. When wind screams outside, blowing snow sideways, and I'm indoors lying on the couch with a poofy blanket, a book, and a fire in the woodstove, sleepiness weighting my eyes. This is winter at its most satisfying, and fire is a well contained and welcome mystery.


Two photos from this morning:



69 comments:

Prasad said...

aaaahhhhh snowy winters!!! i hav seen snow only once in my life and tht was whn i was in lik 4th grade and i went to the himalayas to see tht!!! other than tht winters down here in south india are like 24- 25 degree C! and hey i do feel cold for tht! :D


and could you post a pic of tht wonderful snow?

Ruth said...

Ah, Prasad, rauf said the same, only saw snow in the Himalayas, even a blizzard. (He's in Chennai too.) I don't know how you manage the heat there!

I'll gladly post a photo of the snowfall when the sun comes up. :)

VioletSky said...

I am so with you on the seasons. It would be so boring to have the same sunshine and blue skies every day. What kind of idle chitchat do those people have at the bus stop??

Nautankey said...

I envy you.Here we have three kinda climatic conditions.. hot,hotter and hottest :). And yeah I too have seen snow only in himalayas,pretty far off. Used to read about the fins who dont see much of the sun,wish I could swap place with someone from there :)

Susan said...

Ahhh, Ruth, your writing is so lyrical and makes me want to sing the words out loud! I wish I were half as gifted as you.

We DO talk about the weather a lot here in the Midwest, don't we? Every time David calls his mother the first words out of his mouth are weather-related. It's almost like a script.

I, too, love the four seasons and even though I dread the coming of Winter, I love sitting by the fire on a quiet Sunday afternoon, sipping tea and reading a good book. You just can't do that when it's Summer all the time. We've lived in Florida and Louisiana, and we really missed the seasons.

Gorgeous photos, as usual!

Vicki Holdwick said...

Hi Ruth,

We didn't get 2 inches here a bit south of you, but the ground is covered. I am a yooper, so snow doesn't bother me as much as it does some. Interestingly, my Mom in St. Ignace has no snow on the ground yet.

I am not yet ready for the snow, but it surely is pretty in the sunshine this morning.

Loring Wirbel said...

I left California and Arizona for the same reason. Albuquerque was OK for changes of season, but it took Colorado to bring back good blizzards. The reason I prefer mountain winters to the Midwest variety is the sun shines so consistently here, whereas in Michigan so often after a snow, you'll get 15 days of gray and slush that won't go away.

Prasad said...

aaahhhhh thanks for postin up the pics!!! looks awesome!!!

and lol as n'key says we hav only hot hotter and hottest!!! and the hottest is really really crappy! temperatures reachin 45 degrees C!!

Loring Wirbel said...

Well, Prasad, we had snow in Colorado last week, and today the temperature may get up to 78 degrees F (26 C). I know that's nothing to you, but it would be a record temperature for this time of the season in Colorado!

Prasad said...

LOL..LOL!!!! 26C is lik the winter temp here! :D

Sindhu :) said...

The photos are grrrreat! Esp the first one!

I miss the snow I saw in Omaha NE - I totally loved it - and considering snow is an unknown concept in South India :D -it was a lot of fun!


P.S. Apologies for the comment I wrote at Nautankey's place! I replied to you there, but thought would let you know here too! :)

Sharon said...

Beautiful post! I do miss Michigan's 4 seasons although I agree with Loring in that I prefer the sunny winters here. Michigan winters are bone chillingly damp and way too cloudy & gloomy..... but I suppose that does make being home by the fire with Don all the more wonderful.

photowannabe said...

Ruth, you are a master of words. You almost convinced me that deep into winter can be wonderful. I say almost because I rather like our bland winters where I can drive for 2 hours and see and play in the snow, and then go home to my cozy home and not have to shovel the walk.
Sorry for all the run on sentences.
Love these gorgeous early morning first snowfall pictures.

goatman said...

I think it's the seasonal changes that attract. LA seems to be pretty constant, and smoky at the moment.
Here in central US there is not enough summer; but the interfaces are identifiable and glorious.

Anet said...

Oh Ruth, after reading your post I'm feeling a little better about the snow and cold. Since our weather has turned artic, I've had a bad cold. I haven't been to thrilled with it. I'm usually pretty excited about the first snow fall. I love the part in your post "when the snowflakes are as big as duck feathers." They were like that on Sunday. It was a peaceful feeling watching them fall with my kitten Harpo looking out the window at his first winter.

Christina said...

Yes, it is beautiful so far. The snow. ; )

Ruth said...

Sanna, I really did get bored with the sunshine in LA, more than 300 days a year!

Ruth said...

I agree with Prasad, hot, hotter and hottest is funny (and sad), but you must be used to it somewhat, no? I can't imagine how you'd feel here right now. I wonder if you'd get seasonal affect disorder in Scandinavia? I guess the grass is greener, and I will be longing for Chennai sun in January and February.

Ruth said...

That last comment was for you, Nautankey. :)

Ruth said...

Ah, Susan, you raise another great winter argument, tea. And chili and soup.

Thank you so much, Susan, you are very kind.

Ruth said...

Hi, Vicki, I'm surprised I'm ready for snow already, even though it seems early. It seems that we usually get the first groundcovering snow Thanksgiving weekend or later. No snow in the UP!?

Ruth said...

Loring, my brother and his fam lived in Co Springs many years ago, I remember them talking about the sunshine.

And there's nothing like a good blizzard, whether it's in the Rockies, the Himalayas or out in the chicken yard.

Ruth said...

You're welcome, Prasad! There were so many scenes to photograph on the way to work this morning after leaving the farm where these were taken.

Ruth said...

Sindhu, hi! Did you make a snowman, or throw a snowball?

I was laughing at the conversation at Nautankey's! I learn a lot "listening" to you guys. :)

Ruth said...

Sharon, my sister-in-law moved to Colorado, and she said she did not miss the humid summers of MI and damp winters. I can see that the dryness and clear skies would be good for the soul. But with my sometimes melancholy personality, I actually like the gloomy days too. Don't get me wrong, I am ready for sun when it arrives.

Ruth said...

Ha, Sue, almost seduced you? You are very right about CA though. When we were in LA Don liked being an hour from the beach, an hour from the desert, an hour from the mountains. And we had some fun snowball fights at Big Bear.

Ruth said...

Hi goatman, I remember some long rainy seasons in LA too, don't let these comments about sun fool you. I remember one long February with nothing but rain and flooding. But I think Missouri must be as you say, glorious. I have never been to your state!

Ruth said...

Yes, Anet, it was those snowflakes Sunday I was thinking of, they fell so softly. How sweet that Harpo appreciated them too, he probably wanted to eat 'em.

You sound miserable, I hope you're on the mend soon. Rest, rest, rest. Did you have any ginger tea yet? (ginger, honey, lemon, garlic and red pepper)

Ruth said...

Christina, hmm, I wonder if you have the same amount in Wisconsin, or more? Don grew up in Appleton 6th grade thru graduation and first year of college. Boy, have I heard stories, like taking the car battery in the house to keep it warm so the car would start in the morning.

Babs (Beetle) said...

I love the four seasons. Each one so different. I wish our summers were a bit more reliable, but I wouldn't change them for an all year long summer!

I can't wait for snow. I just hope we get a nice snowfall this year :O)

Sidney said...

Wow... snow already...
I can understand you like it there... seems very beautiful when I look at your pictures.

gaz said...

lovely post ruth.
i love winter too - far more than summer (not that we get much summer to shout about here in the uk!) i love wrapping the kids up in scarves, gloves and wooly hats. sitting in the warm by the window watching the wind and rain outside whipping all the leaves up.
can't beat it.
bring on wintertime.

Peter said...

Referring to my origins, I believe there were good reasons for the Swedish immigrants to basically settle down in Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan... They wanted a climate and nature in general that they were used to ... and maybe appreciated!

I have also been brought up with these rather strong seasonal variations and of course appreciate them, but for me the weather climate is not the most important, rather the social "climate", the art of living.... and there you can find good places all over the world!

shicat said...

Just beautiful.

Ruth said...

Babs, the best winters are ones where we keep getting fresh snow, and it never gets gross and dirty. Last winter was like that.

Ruth said...

Sidney, it is beautiful and welcome, if you can accept the cold. I would have a hard time with the humid heat of the Philippines.

Ruth said...

Gaz, yeah, those rainy days in your neck of the woods can get old. All the best to your Ruben.

Ruth said...

You must be right, Peter, about the immigrants in the North. My roots go to Sweden, did I ever tell you?

I love what you said about the social climate being most important. There is so much of interest around!

Ruth said...

Thank you, Cathy. :)

MedaM said...

Your writing about winter is so great. I am sure that even those who hate snowy and cold winter would fall in love with it. But I agree with you completely because I too love winter.
Your photos are beautiful but the photo with the candle flame on it attracted me the most; it seems to me I could feel the warmth of the flame.

Don said...

It is nice to be able to walk through the woods, slip on the pond and then come infor hot coffee and a toasty fire! It makes it even better to do that together

Laurie Kruczek said...

How have I missed this blog for so long? I love your photos, writing style, layout, everything! And the four seasons? There is nothing more perfect God could ever create. I lived in Texas for 4 years, and the loss of the four seasons was overwhelming for me. When we moved back to Oregon, I couldn't wait to experience each and every one. I know just how you feel.

We are still waiting for the first snow here. When it comes, I will play like there is no tomorrow!

Thanks for being here and making my whole morning ;)

carl h. sr. said...

Ruth,I love the frosted trees and the beautiful picture that your wonderful words paint!

carl h. sr. said...

I just read Don's comment. You are both SO RICH!

Lisa Reed said...

Your blog is a delight---something that could start my days off just right!
Beautiful!
Lisa

Ruth said...

Thank you so much, MedaM. We will take pictures of winter together, you and I. I LOVE your mums today and yesterday!! I wonder how similar our latitude is with Sarajevo? Pretty close I think.

Ruth said...

Don, yep.

Ruth said...

Laurie, welcome! I am stunned by your blog and what you and your family do! This is exciting. I hope you'll visit my husband Don's blog, which is a link on my sidebar under family links. He has chickens, and we are learning to be more self sufficient, slowly, slowly. I lived in Oregon for one whole semester in 1976, and I LOVED it. I was in Ashland, at about 7000 feet.

Ruth said...

Oh, thank you, Carl. We love our life.

Ruth said...

Hi Lisa! I feel honored that an artist such as yourself would say that. Thank you! I'm so glad you visited and that I found your blog. I really love your work!

Rauf said...

i am glad i am in chennai Ruth, actually i am very thankful. i can't stand up wearing some layers of heavy clothes, i would keep falling, slipping and falling. i'll sit there and say HA ! and i cannot afford heavy winter. India is a blessing for the poor. (i live below poverty line Ruth)

Leena said...

Thank you for your thoughts, they could be mine.
We have snow as much as you have or had :)
And we can keep it at least next two weeks, hopefully it has increased enough even the weather could warm a little.
And Peter is of course right also and very wise :)

Ruth said...

rauf, I would love to see you in a lightweight down jacket, you can't believe how light they make them now, for people who go trekking, as you did in the Himalayas and almost died in a blizzard. But believe me, I slip, and fall and sit and say HA! myself plenty. Fell last year getting firewood.

Yes, cold for the poor would be misery. But rauf, you are one of the richest people I know.

Ruth said...

Ah dear sister from another North country! You know I love your winter photographs, Joensuu is such a beautiful town, especially when blanketed with snow.

Yes, Peter said a very good thing. I keep thinking about it. :)

Ginnie said...

To be honest, Ruth, I miss it! Maybe that's why we always want to come visit you at the end of the year...a tradition for us now. I could easily move back there, in spite of my age. I guess I'd be a snowbird in reverse?

Ruth said...

Boots, well yes, there are you who left and would like to be here. I know Hot-lanta can be HOT. Maybe some day.

a said...

hey sweet thing:) ahhh it looks so lovely here ...I want to sit and take in all the words and will do so tonight when I have more time...(I'm on the run today:) later! xo

Ruth said...

Back atcha cute Ame.

Bob Johnson said...

Wow, Ruth, you did it, for a moment you made me like winter, just for a moment,excuse me I have to go outside and shovel the sidewalks,lol. One good thing is when you come back in to the warm house and your glasses are all fogged up, you get to have a hot chocolate.

a said...

YOU DID GET SNOW! We have only had a tease of flurries...love the snow on the pumpkins shot!

Ruth said...

Aha, Bob! Good thing about shoveling is it keeps you warm. Sometimes. Haha, the glasses fogging up, red face, take 'em off, sit down with cocoa or coffee, warm fingers by the fire. Winter is great!

Ruth said...

Amy, it's supposed to warm up to 40 soon, so our white ground will go away soon. Hopefully not for long.

Moi said...

you know it already, Ruth...i don't have to type it here...i LOVE being in a place that has 4 seasons.......it's been such a "dramatic" year for me and more the drama, more I like it.....and yes I mean drama in the same vein as you do :)

I am ready for winters.......I am ready for the sloth it brings (my fav. part), cozy duvets, warm sweaters, piping hot soups, home made kebabs, and snow flakes dancing outside my window.....the only thing I dont like....I have to work when I should be either outside toting my camera with me or snuggling with my husband :((((

Moi said...

And Ruth, have you been to this blog before?
http://michpics.wordpress.com/

Barry said...

I was complaining about our recent snowfall until I read the last paragraph of your post.

Now I guess I should be grateful.

Or maybe I'll just keep complaining.

Ruth said...

Moi, you are embracing the Midwest like nobody's business. I really love watching you. I had not seen that Michigan blog - they're doing a wonderful job documenting my state.

Where were you born, Moi? I know you're from India. What part?

Hey, your profile still says you're in Florida. Are you going back? :( And oh, I can definitely understand your appreciation of the Midwest after Florida!

Ruth said...

Barry, complaining about snowfall????

Sandy said...

Your photos are beautiful! As much as I can appreciate reading about your love of winter, I couldn't take that drama of living through it,ha. I'm definitely a southern california girl now although in my childhood I loved the snow storms we would get in Kansas. Now if I want snow (which i don't) we can drive up to the mountains...

Ruth said...

I know, Sandy, there is so much within driving distance for you in so Cal. We used to love to go to Big Bear and throw snowballs.