ESCANABA - Hang on to your hat, tuck in your woolies, wild times are about to fly like the wind!
Don't put away that snow shovel. Keep those mittens and mukluks handy. March is about to arrive in the U.P.
I know everyone is tired of their winter sweaters and flannel sheets. Wash them but don't put them too far away yet.
Karen Wils photos
A giant icicle at the Escanaba Public Library, above. It’s Yooper fun to watch ice melt while reading a good book.
The snowshoe hare is a hardy critter of the north woods.
Wooden snow snakes enjoying the crusty snow.
March can be one of our snowiest months of the year. Late season snowstorms in the U.P. are often worse for Delta County - the "Banana Belt" - when systems bring a southeast wind and lake-effect snow off the Green Bay.
Since kindergarten, we were taught that the month of March could be a lamb or a lion and its weather could change personalities in just a few minutes!
After this year's record setting cold wintery season, any sign of spring will be totally celebrated.
Even though March can be a time of "more of the same weather" with a few puddles and icicles thrown in, the hours of daylight are increasing in our favor.
St. Patrick's Day snow storms don't seem so bad you know robins will soon replace snowdrifts. The calendar tells us that the first official day of spring is March 23, but in our neck-of-the-woods, we get only very subtle hints by then.
Patience is the name of the game in March. Every day that big, fat, old snowman leans a little bit more and gets thinner. Those chunks of frozen slush that cling to the wheel wells on the vehicles ever so slowly erode and finally plop off.
One sunny March afternoon, Mom would open a window just a tiny crack to let in the fresh air. After long, cold winter that cool, crisp air in the house was as intoxicating as berry wine.
The icicles grow like daggers of diamond from the melting and the refreezing and the melting and the refreezing. The sap rises unseen in the maple trees and the snow through the U.P. woodlands grows a crusty cap. Wild animals move differently now.
Some people still skid snow snakes across the harden snow like the Native Americans of old. The snowshoe hares, the crazy March hares, dance on two legs as if they hear some Irish reel playing on the wind. The mating season has come for them and other critters of the north woods.
This year the winter was doozey with frozen Great Lakes and frost lines seven feet or more in the ground. The winters of 1936, 1963 and 1994 were super cold ones, too, I'm told. It is fun to read about them in meteorologist Karl Bohnak's book, "So Cold a Sky." But spring always comes and it's time to start wondering just how hot our summer will be.
Watch the icicles grow and watch the setting sun cast blue shadows on the crusty snow. Rejoice about snow fleas, slushy puddles and skunk tracks on the snow.
Let's hope and pray that this year's spring is a slow gentle one, but keep the Stormy Kromers handy for a few more weeks.
Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong resident of north Escanaba. Her folksy columns are published weekly in Lifestyles.