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sun beams on snow covered pines

Winter Comes to Beaver Island    

spy vs spy
gobble gobble
blowing snow

     This past fall, we were pleasantly surprised --as was much of the country-- by three months of Indian Summer.  The two dozen or so carpenters working here could perform in shirt sleeves, and a few projects scheduled for spring were bumped forward to take advantage of the good weather. Tourists continued to arrive on a regular basis, thanks largely to the increasing awareness of the Island by the world at large.  The only people who were bothered by the warmth were the hunters and those anxious to test their new snowmobiles and skis.
     But all good things come to an end. Our inclement weather gave way to a few light snows around Christmas, and then, on January 2nd, the long-overdue blanket descended in the middle of Saturday afternoon. It was a light, dry snow, but it fell thickly and continuously.  The last plane to get away was at 3:00; those scheduled to leave later had to make other plans.
     It snowed and snowed, and after dark the wind howled from the east, clogging the streets and roads with deep fingers of drifts.  It was not as heavy as Chicago (~20") or the mainland snow belt, but our 7" was enough to bring all movement dependent on the wheel to a complete stop.

turkeys on the move
perfect island crossing
curious deer
go on eating
the burrows

     By Sunday morning, the wind had blown itself out.  Despite the snow everywhere, it was a wonderful day: peaceful, sparkling, and pristine. The only vehicles on the prowl were snowmobiles, which zipped happily by in a display of every size, shape, and color. Towards mid-afternoon we walked down the bluff to the frozen beach to gauge the effects of the storm on the woods.  With drifts up to 30" in places, the deer living in the cedars had not ventured from their beds.  There were no signs of the seven turkeys that had frequented this area lately, and the raccoons we had observed in a hollow, V-shaped trunk seemed to have chosen dreamland until spring.  Raccoon dreams: humans, stupid and small; raccoons, wealthy, witty, and wise.
     The rabbits were in their deluded glory, hopping about on top of the very light wind-crust, assuming their coats had changed --after all, it was January. To be kind, we pretended not to see them; it was Garden Island all over again.
     The Harbor had frozen into a thin sheet right after the Emerald Isle's last (unscheduled, forced by the ever-increasing demand) run, with the thirteen swans moving farther and farther away from the shore. Now the ice was covered with a half foot of white powder. Our dry fall had widened our beaches; the rock who's tip typically breaks the water at low tide was almost fully exposed, centered in a pool of its own making in the jetties of ice. In the woods, the wind had sandblasted the trees with snow, which clung best to those with the craggiest bark.
     All in all, the day was absolutely wonderful. In the silence we could hear ourselves think --always the first step in improving how we think.  Even though the other seasons have their wonders, today we felt that winter is the finest time of year.





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