I always fancied myself a bit tougher than most, but mothers — in this case Mother Nature — have a knack for putting me in my place.
The annual drip, drip, drip of melting snow gets me every time.
That siren’s call arrives between Valentine’s Day and Easter each year and inevitably kicks off an irreversible progression of clothing shedding that tests my will and my immune system. The faint drumbeat signaling spring’s forward march makes me shed layers like a coed on summer break at the Jersey shore.
First the winter coat. Then the sweaters. And eventually the vests.
I’m happy to see each one packed away into the back of the closet, not to reemerge until autumn strips leaves from trees and stencils frost on windows. It’s an annual rebirth similar to a bear emerging from hibernation or birds migrating north.
There isn’t a northern Michigander who didn’t shed layers during the unusual late-February warmup that had us all swooning for an early melt and daydreaming about feeling sun-baked sand beneath our feet. Most engaged in a mind-over-matter struggle against the barely above freezing weather that constituted a winter heatwave. That wishful thinking sidelined snow boots and ushered in sweatshirts and for the most optimistic — or delirious — short sleeves.
But we should have known better.
Each spring Mother Nature sees fit to engage in a will-measuring contest with us all — a face-off I often nose into stubbornly, but consistently lose. It all starts with a modest warm spell to interrupt the winter doldrums followed by a full-force wintry face-slap to close off the season. This year that reprieve from the jaws of winter was early and strong, decimating snowpack and sending the sweet scents of spring into the warm air.
All good things come to an end, some to a screeching halt.
That’s where the test of wills really begins. Much to my mother’s chagrin, I have always viewed the annual layer-shedding progression as a bit of a one-way street where turning back would constitute an egregious violation. Sure, there are times when we might stop forward motion, but reversing course is unthinkable.
Nope, the sub-freezing wind and inches of snow kicked off an annual staring match that invariably sends me outside in bitter spring cold snaps wearing little more than a T-shirt to protect against the elements.
Last week I spent a solid 30 minutes staring at my sun-warmed deck wondering if it might be time to break out a hammock. Apparently Mother Nature isn’t playing around this year and decided to break out the big guns in an effort to crush my will.
Now that deck is suffocated by foot-deep slushy snow with meteorologists promising a pile-on in the coming days.
Not to be defeated, I caught myself traipsing outside through ankle-deep snow wearing summer beach clogs on my feet, wincing at the stinging chomp of cold snow lapping on my bare ankles. It’s a real mind-over-matter thing, like a Midwest version of fast-footing over a bed of hot coals.
Most common sense-loving Michiganders retreated to their winter coats and warm boots as March snow stomped on our parade of pleasant. Not me.
This year there’s no turning back, no matter the cost.
Email Executive Editor Nathan Payne at firstname.lastname@example.org