Winter is coming. All of northern Michigan seems to whisper the warning. The sun is slower to rise each day, and the mist clings to the lakes when I drive my children to school in the darkness. It’s not yet Halloween, but our neighbors have been anticipating the first snowfall since we arrived here in August, when it was ninety-two degrees and sunny. They look stern and offer advice (much-needed) on snow tires and Vitamin D supplements.
I can’t help but think of the residents of Winterfell in Game of Thrones. If the threat of such a long, hard winter wasn’t terrifying to me, a homesick Southerner who has never owned a proper coat, I might find it funny.
When I open my checking account, the bank teller raises her eyebrows when I say we’ve come from Virginia. “Have much winter there?” she asks, knowing the answer. The lady at the shoe store tells me I need four pairs of boots, not one, “for the four types of winter days: wet, icy, snowy, and it’s-May-and-if-I-wear-boots-another-day-I’ll-cry.” I suspect she’s taking advantage of me, but later a real rugged Northwoods type confirms her advice.
“And don’t get cheap boots either,” he warns, “or you’ll cry like a baby.”
Our new doctor recommends a high-quality multivitamin and a ski pass. Skiing and snowshoeing and even ice-skating are all as foreign to me as a moonwalk, but I smile and nod and try not to look worried.
“You can’t hide from winter here,” she says. “You have to embrace it.”