ESCANABA - One moment we were singing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." The next moment we were coughing, aching and groaning.
A few days after Christmas the woods looked like a winter wonderland.
On Jan. 12, my boots were stuck in the mire and mud on a 40-degree day.
Karen Wils photo
An opossum will make you smile away the winter blues. Once found only in Southern parts of Michigan, now, due to milder winters, the possum is at home at U.P. bird feeders.
All in a blink of an eye, the Christmas lights went out, the flu season began, the snow stopped and turned into mud and ice, the holiday treats were replaced with healthy diet books and the gift catalogs turned into bills in the mailbox.
For a while the whole country worried about the fiscal cliff. The Green Bay Packers lost in the playoffs and the winter taxes came due.
The snow over most of the U.P. is sparse. The ice on Little Bay de Noc is too thin for ice fishing. Even the outdoor ice rinks are having a hard time staying cold enough to open.
The milder winter weather seems to have encouraged a healthy crop of germs. Churches and schools echo with the sound like kennel cough. Vicks and Robitussin are popular purchases at the check-out lines now.
It sounds like I have a bad case of the winter blues. Or maybe I should call it the "not winter enough blues." For the most part, most of us Yoopers totally enjoy the slower paced winter days of sitting all day in the fish shack or skiing for hours across field and forest with only the sound of the north wind for a companion.
Even if the weather doesn't cooperate, we have to change with our changing climate and put on a different winter hat and get outside. For many decades, I participated in snow-trial competition for beagles held in mid-January. As the hounds swarm through snow deeper than their ears, the handlers followed on snowshoes. Gradually over the years the cedar swamp became less snowy. In recent years, at this same competition, most of the Beaglers wear ice creepers attached to their boots to prevent slipping on the icy ground.
Even if we have to reinvent the joys of January, the north woods have a lot to offer even on the days of little sun light.
Here are a few suggestions to cheer up drab sort of winter days:
Eat some hot homemade soup.
Feed the birds.
Have a polar bear picnic and eat outside all bundled up.
Get outside for a walk as the sun sets.
On a sunny day shake your rugs and air out your pillows outside.
Read the seed catalogs and plan a garden for spring.
Bake some oatmeal cookies.
Invite family or friends over to play board games or cards.
Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong north Escanaba resident. Her folksy columns appear weekly in Lifestyles.