In these final weeks of autumn, as businesses bid farewell to 2017 and snowbirds head south for the winter, Door County’s landscape has swapped its palette of fiery reds and oranges for muted browns and grays. The peninsula is ready for its winter slumber.
It has become a ritual for me to welcome early winter with the poetry of Robert Frost, a man I have found unrivaled in his appreciation for the season.
The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
With so little to distract our senses in these dark, cold months, it’s important to appreciate the simple signs of life, as “Dust of Snow” reminds us. I admit I have already cursed the arrival of winter weather, though the season doesn’t officially begin until Dec. 21. When the weather forecast shifts from 62 degrees and sunny to 43 degrees and rainy within 72 hours, it’s difficult to maintain optimism. But as we witness Mother Nature blanket bare ground with snow, or so we hope, it’s easier to see the potential of the season.
Gradual optimism for winter is a product of my childhood. I grew up with nine siblings in the rolling countryside of Seymour, Wisconsin, on a 20-acre tract of hilly land that, when covered in snow, transformed into the neighborhood’s best sledding hill. Snow forts and snowmen dotted our landscape, which we traversed in snowshoes and snow boots. It’s no wonder I thought snow was the make or break of winter. But as I reflect on the ways we passed time, snow was secondary to a sense of adventure.
That adventure was synonymous with our mom, who embraced everything about the season, from the first snowfall to the unique blend of anxiety and hope that came with watching school closing reports on TV.
She flooded a low part of the yard one winter to create an ice rink that had us scrambling to the attic for our siblings’ hand-me-down ice skates. She regularly celebrated the end of Thanksgiving Day by hauling out strings of fat Christmas bulbs and adorning her backyard evergreens with them. One day, she took us on a blustery stroll through the neighboring tree farm, stuffing pillows in front and back of our winter jackets and tying them in place with scarves for extra warmth.
As an adult, I traded that 20-acre patch of winter wonderland for an entire peninsula. The sledding hill and ice rink aren’t right outside my front door anymore but that sense of adventure still burns within. As those wintertime memories of childhood remind me, life — and all the seasons you see it through — is what you make it.
Maybe this is the winter to transform a corner of your basement into a home bar. In this issue, Myles Dannhausen Jr. introduces us to a few enviable pioneers of the home bar movement in Door County, who share their “must haves” for a delightfully spirited libation station.
Or perhaps it’s time to consider heading south to warmer climes via the waters of the Erie Canal, St. Lawrence Seaway or the western rivers. Jackson Parr tells us how, with the help of a couple well-traveled Door County sailors.
If you’re content in the quietude of the winterized peninsula, look to your own two hands to make for a memorable off-season: dust off your high school band instrument and make music with the Peninsula New Horizons band or turn your kitchen into a rustic bread haven with the help of artisan breadmaker Rob Anderson.
Or just kick back with this publication and a warming winter chai and follow the journeys of the artists, historians and feathered friends who call this beautiful place home all year long.