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Leave It to Stephen/Stephen Anderson

A love-hate relationship with snow

March 3, 2012
The Daily Mining Gazette

Yoopers tend to have a strange kind of love-hate relationship with snow, and this past week highlighted just about every emotional peak and valley Copper Country diehards could possibly experience.

To begin with, it's already been a strange winter. Instead of the steady 1-to-2-inch dusting most Yoopers expect to whisk off their vehicles every morning, it's been feast or famine. Days - and sometimes weeks - of unseasonably warm weather have been rudely interrupted by explosive Heikki Lunta temper tantrums.

And no tantrum was worse than this past week when a vicious storm front - and this wasn't even the lake-effect variety - cancelled many local schools for three days and completely messed up the Gazette's sports coverage schedule in the process. As sports editor Brandon Veale said going into the week, it would take at least three horsemen of the apocalypse to reschedule a district tournament...

Well, I guess that sums up what was the closest thing to a legitimate blizzard I've seen in a long time. I wonder how it compares to "the blizzards of old" my parents and grandparents always used to describe?

In any case, if my Facebook newsfeed was any indication, this past week's wacky weather will at least contribute to the (exaggerated?) lore my generation tells its children.

Opinions about the storm ranged from "giddy as a schoolboy" - indeed, there were plenty of school-aged friends rubbing it in that I had to work while they slept in - to furious and frustrated.

I've reached the point where I'm somewhere in the middle. Living in the U.P. isn't always easy, but it's easy to be content if you make the best of whatever weather inevitably comes. This is one of the snowiest areas of the country, so I'm always surprised when people complain as if they're shocked at a major snowfall. Just expect it, prepare for it and enjoy the few sunny days we do get.

There's a few people I'm particularly happy for with the latest snowfall, namely, the people who depend on it: snowmobilers, skiers, winter tourism folks and this weekend's CopperDog 150 mushers. It's been a long, hard winter for many of them - just ask Winter Carnival snow statue builders...

I've had the privilege of working closely with CopperDog organizers to bring you behind-the-scenes coverage of the third-annual sled dog race in every Saturday's Gazette for nearly two months.

Frankly, we're spoiled here in the Copper Country to be able to hold an elite race like the CopperDog in our back yard. And the snow we received this last week couldn't have come at a better time for organizers - a few days before the race but far enough in advance to groom trails accordingly.

If you didn't have a chance to experience the incredible start in downtown Calumet Friday night, you still have a chance to see the Copper Harbor start Sunday morning or the downtown Calumet finish early Sunday afternoon.

Whether or not you watch or volunteer for the CopperDog, I hope you at least recognize the profound positive impact it has on the local economy - not just in Calumet, but throughout the Keweenaw.

The same could be said for Winter Carnival, Heikinpiv, various ice fishing tournaments, snowmobile races, cross country ski races and many more weather-dependent events.

So, if you're the kind of person who is inclined to complain about the snow, you have a few options: 1) move away - if your relationship with the white stuff only involves hate, you might just be living in the wrong place; 2) recognize the huge impact it has on the local economy and appreciate it in that regard; or 3) learn to make the most of it - there's a lot more to do with it than just shovel.

Stephen Anderson can be reached at



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