ESCANABA - When the north wind puts a nip in the air and the first snowflake swirls down from the grey sky, it's time for a wardrobe change.
The deer are already suited up for the great chill. The snowshoe hares are switching over from their summer under garments to their winter undies as we speak. The fox and coyote families have donned their winter coats, too.
October is truly a transition month in the U.P. One day we are picking the last of the tomatoes in our short pants and flip-flops and the next day, we're wearing chooks (toques) and mitts.
Karen Wils photos
A trio of handsome, happy Yoopers ready for fall weather.
A snowshoe hare still has brown around his face, but the back end is ready for winter.
From the time I was a little girl on, taking out the winter clothes was always an awesome high. The feel of flannel, the warm weight of wool and the soft, thick cotton of a favorite sweatshirt, are comforting things to most Yoopers.
As busy as my mother was with six kids, she religiously cleaned and packed away all of our winter clothes in the spring of the year. Come autumn, each kid had a nice bin of fresh, clean long sleeve shirts, corduroy pants, long-johns and such to rotate into the dresser drawers. Back to the attic went the summer things.
Being bigger and bulkier, winter clothes seemed to be a little more special. And of course, wintery weather days far outnumber the warm days (especially when I was young) so we needed to have more winter duds.
Every family member has his or her favorite sweatshirt. Mine usually has a beagle on it. My husband's has had numerous whitetail deer sweatshirts. My kids have favorite hoodies. Young folks today are big into the hooded sweatshirt look. In fact they will wear them even in below zero weather with little else (and most often, they don't even put the hood up).
Long-johns were a part of our everyday attire too. I had floral print and pink longies which made them easier to tell apart in the laundry from my brothers.
Woolen camp pants and good stay-up, wool-blend socks always felt so good when you put them on for the first time in the fall. One could almost smell the spicy autumn leaves and golden tamarack needles in the fabric before you go outdoors.
Down-filled or sheepskin-lined vests make their way to the front of the closet.
Tis the season! Domestic engineers are swaping the sheets and blankets on the bed. Flannel sheets and quilted comforters are showing up all over the north woods. Storm windows are up and screens are down.
The Stormy Cromer's begin to replace the baseball caps and Ugg boots rule over Crocs. It's time to unfold your favorite sweaters.
My kids say that I have dozen's of "gramma sweaters" and I love each warm and comforting one of them, too.
People in the U.P. are noted for wearing plaid flannel. I am sure every outdoorsman or woman has a favorite "Sunday best flannel." Mine is my purple and grey flannel shirt. My husband has several black and white buffalo plaid flannel shirts that are his favs. My dad likes the traditional red and black flannels the best.
The does and giddy bucks are wearing their insulated fur suits of grey right now. Gone are the reds of summer. The hares are half nutmeg like the dead ferns and weeds and half white like the frost on the morning ground.
It's time to find your favorite winter hat.
Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong north Escanaba resident. Her folksy columns appear weekly in Lifestyles.