"Water Winter Wonderland" was proudly printed on Michigan license plates in the boom-time Sixties.
That slogan told the truth, we're an honest to goodness four-season northern state. Similar regions worldwide embrace this reality, but we seem to be having issues.
Well, I’m taking a stand for winter, and for our state.
To make it easy to return to a love of our Winter Wonderland, let’s learn from other places that figured it out long ago.
"Hygge" (hooga) is the Danish word for "friendly coziness" indoors and out. Once it's cold and dark they make a special effort to do things with family and friends, like gathering around bonfires. It’s a major national value for them. It could be for us, too! We have bonfires in the summer. Let’s do them in winter.
Variety is our strong point. Playing outside is the best key to cold weather warmth and fun. The baby-boomers from the era of those license plates knew this.
Too many Michiganders suffer from obesity. The biggest cause of this is from our refusal to move enough, especially in winter.
So let’s get out there! There’s cross-country skiing for gliding fun anywhere there’s snow. Or, you could try ice-fishing. Hiking works, too. And sledding or ice-skating! There’s even biking! Our winter roads are frequently dry, and temperatures are often moderate on sunny days. Millions of northerners around the world bundle up and keep riding bikes in winter -- we can, too!
Now, maybe you’re wondering why I care so much about this.
Well, I was born and raised in Michigan, then pursued youthful thrills to California, Maine, Breckenridge and Boulder. When I finally came back to the Lansing area, and our huge downstate parks and diverse scenery, I realized how special it is. I saw that I could enjoy the outdoors here just as much as I did with mountains at my doorstep. But I keeping hearing that winter is best in the mountains, or up north, or in Florida. So I decided to help others see how good we have it right here where we live.
Understanding how to thrive in winter -- and our other 3 seasons, too -- is the only way we Michiganders can enjoy being ourselves.
Once we figure that out, more people will want to move here, stay here, or visit, and join in on our fun.
And then Michigan can re-discover what it means to be a Water Winter Wonderland.
Jeff Potter is an avid cross-country skier and biker. For more information about upcoming skiing and biking events that he hosts around the Lansing area you can visit his website here.