Decades ago, I moved from my hometown of Superior, Wisconsin to Central Florida. I traded snow for sandy beaches and below zero temperatures for year-round sunshine.

But the beauty and fun of wintery weather beckons.

Lake Superior, February 2015
Rovaniemi, Finland, January 2011

This year, my travels took me to upstate New York—no snow when we landed, but the next morning, a thin white blanket covered the town. 

Then Springfield, Missouri experienced a light dusting of snow. By the time I thought to take a photo, it had melted.

Next I flew to Superior. The airplane hovered over bare branches of ice-coated trees, a stark and stunning sight.

Photo by Britt Levander

My family had bragged about recent mild winters—neglected snow blowers, unused boots, and balmy temps that never dipped lower than zero.

But this winter, the Wisconsinites good luck had run out. I was told the amount of snow and slush I slogged through was not typical. Nor were the frigid temperatures. I witnessed skyscraping snowbanks and pipe-bursting freezes. With the added wind-chill, I experienced minus 29 degrees. (And lived to tell about it.)

My dad and I standing near ice sculptures that may not melt until July.

This weather is not a surprise to me. I remember the never-ending chore of shoveling our driveway. Once, I climbed out my bedroom window to free our front and back doors from massive snowdrifts. And as a Kindergartener, I trudged home from school in a blinding blizzard. My mother might as well have been a polar bear eating marshmallows in a snowbank. I walked right past her sitting in our snow encrusted station wagon.

While in Superior, a friend invited my sister and me over for coffee. The accumulation of fat and fluffy snowflakes camouflaged sidewalks and streets. When my sister saw my boots, she said she should buy a pair some day. (She won’t.) Instead, she slipped into her tennis shoes, normal footwear for hardy northerners, and carved a path to the neighbor’s house. Watch her go! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPpSZUH7FqU

People drove me around town in cars lumbered with ice chunks wedged in wheel wells. When a hunk dropped off and the tire crushed it, I thought we ran over a cat!

Snow flurries almost cancelled my flight to Florida. But Duluth, Minnesota equips its airport with de-icing machines and snowplows that scrape the runway clean. 

This week, I’m back in the state of New York. Tiny snowflakes swirl through the air like flecks of dust in the sunlight. I visited the Putnam family cemetery I wrote about last September.

Buried tombstones.

My sister texted this photo and said, “Hope you are a little warmer where you are!” 

I assured her I was. It’s a pleasant 2° here in New York. 

Where is your favorite snowy playground?

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