This is the time of year I like to watch reruns of Northern Exposure, the tv show from the early 90’s. Set in a fictional town in Alaska, it bears a lot of similarities to northern Minnesota. The characters are my early winter friends who know what it is like to live in the northern clime, in a place with more trees than people. They understand the darkness.
They also understand the anticipation of winter. One of my favorite parts is from the 5th season. Chris, the radio DJ is waiting for the the first snow of winter with an air of excitement. Every one is preparing for the upcoming winter which can be challenging, but if they didn’t like it at least a bit way down deep, well, then they just wouldn’t live there. At the end of the episode, the first flakes begin to fall and the whole community comes out into the streets to wish each other a bon hiver; a French saying that means good winter.
I like that expression. Good winter. All of a sudden it is December and it has all the makings of a good winter. I eagerly waited for the first snow, the first real snow that sticks around. Sure, some flakes fall early in September, but nothing that sticks to the ground and stays a while. October starts to tease you a little bit with snow in the morning frosting the ground but it melts quickly. By the end of October the snow was starting to get a little more serious. When we took the dock out the last weekend of October, I got to shovel it off first. That’s a neat experience, shoveling snow off the dock and watching it float away.
The middle of November was when Round Lake decided to toss up its white flag and surrender to the winter. The bigger lakes in the area still have some open water, but Round Lake has been tucked in for the winter for close to three weeks now. And the snow did come. We don’t have all that much on the ground, but every tree is flocked beautifully for the season. When it gets really cold like the last few days and the sky clears to a beautiful blue and that pale winter sun peeks out for just a little bit. ..bon hiver.
Then a real live Maggie O’Connell came and landed on Round Lake! That’s just not something you see every day. I think I can say that we have enough ice on the lake now, at least enough to support a plane. No, we don’t have enough snow yet for those who like to shush through the woods on groomed trails or scream around on snow machines. But it looks and feels like winter with plenty of time to add to our snow blanket. It’s time to say bon hiver to everyone. I think it is going to be a very good winter.