When You Live in Snow Country

Yesterday morning, the first snowstorm of the season dumped a nice, heavy 6+ inches of the white stuff on our town.

It was a gorgeous sight to wake to – that rolling blanket of untouched white spread across the yard out back, the shimmer of streetlight cast upon the smooth surface out front.

I was up early for my spin class, and as I looked out the window trying to predict if my vehicle would make it down our road and out to the highway, my sons danced around my feet cheering that TODAY was the day for snowmen and snowball fights and snow angels and sledding!

We’ve all been longing for snow. We missed having it at Christmas time this year. Baking peanut butter blossom cookies in the kitchen while listening to the Indigo Girls Christmas album was nice, but it would have been nicer with fat flakes falling out the window onto my deck. The icicle lights on my neighbors’ roofline were beautiful, but they would have been stunning with a swath of bright snow below to reflect all that light.

When you live in snow country, in some way, you need the snow. You rely on it to mark the seasons, to keep life’s rhythms. You need it to feel a certain way. Like Christmas. Like home.

I thought about life in snow country yesterday morning as my husband fired up the snowblower at 6 am and cleared the driveway so I could get on the road.

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I thought about life in snow country as I drove twenty minutes on slick roads to attend spin class, adjusting my speed and giving myself ten extra minutes for the commute. Only one lane of the two-lane highway had been plowed, so we crept along at the speed of the leader (except for one wild man in an F350 who blew by and left us in a flurry).

Some would call it a drag to live here, where we face months of shoveling and slush and bundling up. But those of us who choose to make snow country our homes wouldn’t feel at home anywhere else.

What defines this hardy ,crazy folk? What do snow-loving residents have in common?

People who live in snow country live prepared. We’ve got a gas-powered snow blower in the garage and a red can at the ready. Our garage holds five snow shovels of varying sizes, an ice chipper, three snow brushes, and a 30-gallon trash can full of snow melt crystals. Our snowmobiles and snow shoes aren’t just for sport – we’ve gotta get to work somehow, eh?

Every pick-up truck has a few sand bags thrown in the back for weight, and everybody’s uncle is bragging about the new chains on his tires.

Four out of five trucks have plows mounted to the front as soon as the first leaf turns in September, and when that orange plow truck is cruising down the road, you best get out of the way.

If you live in snow country, you’re a member of a somewhat elitist club. You heckle the regions of the country that shut down the whole town when two inches fall (Come on, Ohio. Aren’t you a Midwestern state?) You scoff at ski and snowmobile tourists who don’t know how to drive in the snow. When you approach a Prius with Illinois plates buried in the snowbank, you shake your head and mumble, “Look at this fool,” but then you pull over and throw him a tow strap, because in snow country we take care of each other (and we even take care of Fibbies).

If you live in snow country, your rugs are stained with salt rings, and so are the toes of your leather boots. If you have kids, you probably have something like this in your mudroom.


If you grew up here, you knew exactly where the special snowman scarf and mittens were in the coat closet. You knew your parents would kick you outside and lock the door behind you as soon as the snow flew. You knew the excitement of leaving the first footprints with your new boots.


And you remember the feeling of pee running into those same Sorels when you couldn’t get your snowpants off on time.

If you were a lucky snow country kid, your dad hauled you around like this…


At the end of the day, you wailed in agony as your mom peeled off your frozen-stiff mittens and dunked your hands in a tub of lukewarm water, massaging your reddened skin back to life.

If you spent your teenage years in snow country,  your nights and weekends were devoted to surfing down the sledding hill on a saucer. You and your friends perfected a moving pyramid that flew down the hill at record speeds. You remember the feeling of lying on your back, gasping for air after your stunt went awry and the wind was knocked right out of you.

You and your friends hung out at “the shacks” (ice fishing shanties), and you knew exactly what your buddy meant when he called you and asked if you wanted to go out and “whip pissies” on the lake.

If you grew up in snow country, you know that any hipster or “lumber-sexual” who takes credit for making beards and buffalo plaid stylish obviously never visited my Michigan high school in the 90s.

If you grew up in snow country, you know that even soccer moms kept telescoping shovels and bags of salt in the back of their minivans. They were stored beside the emergency bin of items with crazy names like Turtle Fur, Stormy Kromer, Muk-Luks, and Yaktrax.

And the luckiest moms didn’t get diamonds for Christmas, they got remote starters.

Speaking of starting, if you live in snow country, you know what it’s like to cross your fingers and say a prayer as you slide the key into the ignition on a minus 20 morning. You understand the importance of a weather-rated battery. You know a CD case or credit card can double as an ice scraper in a pinch, and you revel in the sweet gratification of kicking those frozen slush boogers out of the wheel wells of your car.

If you live in snow country, you might start to complain about another twelve inches falling from the sky in March, but you accept it as part of life here, and the only thing sweeter than a sparkling white winter is a lush, green spring, ‘cuz man, have we earned it.

I’ve visited a lot of places in my life, but there’s something special about snow country. I’ve marveled at the Grand Canyon and the Great Barrier Reef, but nothing makes this Midwest girl’s heart sing quite like the season’s first snow.

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33 thoughts on “When You Live in Snow Country

  1. I love the snow and miss it here in Ohio. Seemed like we had a lot more when I was young. Today it is almost 60 degrees. That just isn’t winter. Enjoy the snow. I know you all will.


  2. Stacy, I can totally relate to your complicated relationship with snow. I grew up in GA, which is snow-free, but then I moved to Utah. I’d always thought I loved the snow, because we only got it once every two years. Then, when I was biking to class in Utah, with snowball sized flakes blasting into my eyes, I wanted nothing more than a giant heater to melt all the snow in the world. But, you know what, I have to admit, there is nothing quite like the sound of silence, the stifled crunch, or the subtle tinkling of crystals falling through air. Snow is a beautiful thing.


    1. You are so right! There is something unique to the way snow can muffle the world’s clutter and clamor, and bring matters of the heart into focus– that is until you are pelted in the eyeball with an icy flake and forget everything you know! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and for leaving such a fun comment. Cheers! Stacy


  3. Thank you Stacy, I have always wondered how you snow people make it through a winter; it sounds exhausting so I don’t think I will join you any time soon. I love my mild winters and the excuse to stay home and drink hot chocolate on our “snow days” when life grinds to a halt. Of course, when the temperatures are plus 100 for days on end in the summer, I may envy you after all. Thanks for visiting my blog today, and please come again.


  4. My favorite epic winter prank from your NVAS alma mater…when mischief makers/higher-level thinkers/mechanical wizards got into the bus barn on a below zero night and unplugged all the warmers in those Diesel engines. Delayed start became SNOW DAY! Cheers could be heard for miles and snickers for years in the teacher’s lounge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Now that is some planning ahead. When Mike T. was the super, my siblings and I always said we were going to stretch the garden hose to the street between our houses and ice it up real good so he’d phone in a cancellation 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Christy! It was a ton of fun to write.

      A dear friend of ours is a Boss girl from Charlevoix. We visit every year. Love that charming town by the lake!

      Best wishes to you for a great 2016!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well it’s possible we are related, you know how it is up north!! Small world, isn’t it? My Aunt married into the Boss family, so I have many Boss relatives!! Such wonderful people they are, real true, good people! Best wishes to you, I will be blogging more in 2016 @The Depot of Light, check it out!

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Stacy, you did it again, you told it just like it is here, lived here in snow country all my life, getting old I am not as patient with the cold and snow but then I would not trade living here for anything, thanks again , love the way you write, keep going. !!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Click. You’ve nailed a place, a time, their circumstances — and most of my feelings about them — that are as much a part of me as I am of them and have been for as many decades as I’ve been mindfully or reflectively conscious of them. Nice writing. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Awesome Stace. You DID cover it all. I am so into this winter thing that I am driving to Alaska in FEBRUARY. I am looking for 40 below zero. Can’t wait to look out over the frozen Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territory. Have you ever seen their polar bear license plate? Driving 200 miles north of Fairbanks Alaska to an appropriately named Coldfoot. Can’t wait. Love Dad

    Liked by 1 person

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