If I had a quarter for every time I have heard complaints about Michigan weather, I could probably buy Washtenaw County. In the winter, it’s too cold, too icy. In the summer, it’s too humid or somehow too cool. Fall is too windy and spring, too rainy. Saying these things is almost a rite of passage; you’re not a Midwesterner until you complain daily about atmospheric conditions.
Until last summer, I was among the large number of Michiganians who resolutely promise they will one day move to “somewhere warm.” That all changed when I actually moved to that somewhere.
Orlando, Florida. They call it the City Beautiful, located right in the middle of the Sunshine State. What more could I ask for? It seemed the vibrant city had it all: Not only was it sunny every day, but there were six different sandy beaches within an hour of my apartment. Finally, I thought, I’ll leave the blasted Michigan weather behind.
But three weeks after suffering 95-degree heat and 100-percent humidity, I reconsidered. Not only was it hot, it rained every day at 3 p.m. sharp. No matter what the time of day, my skin would turn clammy-the instant I stepped out of the well air-conditioned refuge of my apartment. On top of all that, there was a hurricane headed toward us. Keep in mind, this was less than a year after three consecutive hurricanes wreaked havoc on this paradise, and damage left over from the storm was still visible along the roads and highways.
Waiting for Hurricane Dennis to make landfall somewhere far away from Orlando, I found myself missing Michigan weather. Sitting on my porch at 2 a.m., still drenched in the day’s sweat, I reminisced about hot summer days and cool nights of a Michigan July. I missed lightening bugs, deciduous trees and regular grass. That’s when it hit me – the Midwest has the best summers in the world, and I was missing it.
As I headed back to school that fall, I found my love of Michigan weather stretched into other seasons, too. I was amazed at how many different colors appeared in tree leaves, and I was delighted to feel a cool breeze on my back en route to football games.
Even when it started to snow, I was delighted. Living away from temperate climates for just three months had changed my perspective completely. I realized that four true seasons only actually happen in a few climates of the world, and ours is one of those. Suddenly Michigan’s erratic weather, famous for snowing and steaming in the same day, became a welcome part of my life.
This summer is merely reinforcing that fact. Now in Indiana for a summer internship, I watch daily reports of weather catastrophes across the country – from wildfires in the west to raging floods in the east. It seems nature has inflicted horrendous abuse on almost every other area of the country in the past few years. Trying to remember bad weather catastrophes in Michigan, I can only come up with a few tornados that, at most, swept roofs off barns.
Although I know I will probably still move to that “someplace warm” after graduation – weather has no effect on the state’s economy, which undoubtedly can’t employ most of my graduating class – but that doesn’t mean I won’t try to get back as soon as I can. Sure, it’d be nice to be swimming near a shore on a warm February day, but that’s what vacations are for. There’s little I’d trade for a chance to spend every night in a cool backyard, listening to crickets and catching lightening bugs. Even if that means dealing with the snow.
Hildreth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.