It’s May 5 here in the Upper Peninsula and the ice finally left our bay yesterday. Yes, I said yesterday. There are still snow mounds in the woods–large enough to make snowmen, for God’s sake, but who thinks it’s fun to still be making snowmen in May? (Put your hand down! You! What is the matter with you?)
It’s been a long, long, long winter. Last year, as everyone here remembers, we had a short, short, short winter. After an exceptionally mild winter last year our ice was out by mid-March and the Trillium were blooming a full three weeks early.
I’ve kept Ice-Out records since we moved here in the mid-90s and it looks like the middle of April is the average viewing of the last of the ice. The latest date I have recorded is May 12, 1996, when the slush ice blew out of the bay and didn’t come back. So there’s at least that. We didn’t break any records this year.
We’re struggling with unprecedented low-water levels on the Great Lakes these days, as well–so low that even melting heavy snows and thick ice won’t do much to change it. The state has finally given up on the idea that it’s just a phase and they’ve begun issuing greater numbers of dredging permits for harbors large and small. The Fed has promised to help out with funding for some of the larger, commercial marinas but our local resorts and marinas are on their own. Still, it has to be done. This state depends on shipping and water tourism and it might be pretty embarrassing if boats couldn’t float in our waters. (It’s always something, isn’t it?)
But the calendar says it’s spring and our spring migrants don’t seem to notice that it’s been acting a whole lot like winter out there. The Sandhill Cranes are back and so are the finches and the mergansers, the goldeneyes and–rumor has it–the loons. The peepers are so loud in the swamp we can hear them with the car windows closed and the radio on.
So I have it on good authority that tomorrow it all changes. The prediction for tomorrow is 67 degrees. In the sixties for the rest of the week, if we’re to believe NOAA.
I’m trying to stay positive. I’m trying to believe that seven weeks into spring it may finally be here. And I’m trying not to notice that white stuff in the woods across the road.
(A follow-up I never dreamed I would have to write: Yesterday, May 13, we were caught in a white-out as we drove the 60 miles to what passes for our only city. The winds were fierce, swirling the light snow across the fields and creating a white-out the likes of which I haven’t seen since I was very young. We pulled into a driveway and sat there for 40 minutes, waiting for things to calm down. Finally a snow plow rumbled by and we saw our chance and followed it into town. Today the sun was shining but the remnants of our late snowfall hung onto the ditches and nestled in the deep woods. In the middle of May.)