Wishing for Snow

I sit here on a cold winter day in Michigan, staring listlessly out the window. Sadly, it is a deeply gray day, a colorless one at that. What little snow we had slowly melted away a couple of days ago, and we are left with a drab view indeed. I sigh, wishing for a heckuva snowstorm to come our way.

And then I laughed. For this isn’t the first time I made such a wish.

As a newspaper reporter in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I received the great honor of being asked to write a weekly column. It was inspiring to imagine the positive impact I could have on the readership, writing pithy insights on important current events.

My first column probably didn’t quite accomplish that lofty goal, as I wished for three feet of snow. Readers were not amused.

Here’s the back story. I was a newbie to Houghton in the Copper Country, which annually receives an unbelievable amount of snow. In my job interview, one of the questions was direct and obviously important: How do you feel about winter? That was not a question I’d ever had to answer in an interview before, but I assured my interviewer that winter was a close pal of mine.

And yet, winter seemed missing in action in my early time in Houghton. Many of my new colleagues warned me of the intensity of the blizzards in the region, and the never-ending shoveling of snow. I began to believe these folks were of the “sky is falling!” persuasion because it was already January, and the snow production was paltry indeed.

Back to my noble vision of the column: As I sat there at my computer with absolutely no idea what to write, I began dabbling in a piece about the lack of snow in the area, despite all of the warnings from the locals about the intensity of winter to come. The words came quickly. I commented on my joy of a few blizzards from my past, often occurring in January. I applauded my predictions of certain storms, the ones that come right after a breezy, balmy day, when the skies turn murky. I even complimented an overnight storm that brought nearly a foot of snow and required me to walk to work. But it still wasn’t that mind-blowing snow that had been advertised.

“Just you wait,” they told me repeatedly.

I had the audacity to end the column with the following retort: “So I’ll keep waiting. May a blizzard dump three feet of snow on Houghton tomorrow.”

I received a great deal of feedback on that column, nearly as much as when I foolishly wondered why there was a National Egg Salad Day right after Easter. The Easter Bunny even wrote a letter to the editor. But back to the snow.

We did get three feet of snow soon thereafter, and on many occasions that winter. The area received a grand total of 260 inches of snow that year, and stubborn snow drifts remained in the woods until May. I grudgingly conceded that the readers were right, of course, and this newbie learned valuable lessons that year, mainly while shoveling snow.

It must be said that I did tackle far more serious topics in my column, beyond snow and egg salad. Topics included local politics, the aftermath of a jet fighter crash and lessons in life. I admit to writing one column where I pined for spring, no surprise.

Forty years later, I continue to gaze out the window at a winter scene devoid of snow, and I’m emboldened to make another proclamation. I am well aware of the dangers of what’s about to come, but I simply can’t help myself. We deserve an appropriate winter landscape, shoveling be damned.

Here’s hoping for three feet of snow.




Betsy Hayhow Hemming is an author and leadership coach. She writes fiction and creative nonfiction. www.betsyhemming.com.

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Betsy Hayhow Hemming

Betsy Hayhow Hemming

Betsy Hayhow Hemming is an author and leadership coach. She writes fiction and creative nonfiction. www.betsyhemming.com.

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