I Remember When Winter Was Charming Once

Thanks to unseasonably warmer temperatures this week and a raging thunderstorm last night, the feet of snow that we accumulated over the last several weeks have now been effectively disintegrated. The only remaining clues that anything happened are the new, deadly craters on my commute and the enormous puddles drowning everyone’s lawns. Looking out my window, you’d think we relocated to the Black Lagoon.

Winter isn’t always our wicked nemesis. Back in the days before “polar vortex” became a thing and public schools were open for business five full days per week, sometimes winter could be enchanting. Ah, distant memories.

My wondrous wife, walking in a winter wonderland.

Dateline: January 2009, Martin Luther King Day weekend. My father-in-law and his wife had given my wife and me one of the most creative Christmas presents we’ve ever received as a couple: a prepaid two-night stay at scenic Turkey Run State Park outside Rockville, Indiana. We’re no strangers to the place — their annual family reunions are held there — but we’d never had an excuse to spend the night in their rustic inn. Since the reunions are in September, we’d also never had the chance to see the forest decked out in its wintry best.

From a landscape perspective, we couldn’t have lucked into a better time to visit. A snowstorm had blasted the area shortly before our arrival and redecorated everything just for us. If we gloss over the one scary moment where I got our car stuck in a ditch for a while, in general the weather was quite gentle with us.

Turkey Run State Park snow

The blizzard-bedecked bridge and the steep, snowy staircase.

For not quite three days and two nights, my wife and I escaped the working world, retreated to the wilderness, and trudged through nature’s billowy blankets to our heart’s content. The inn had board games and a home-cooking restaurant, and we made a point of visiting Rockville’s quaint town square, but the forest was the star attraction.

One of the best features of taking an off-season getaway, especially during inclement conditions that frighten others away, is the virtual silence that surrounds you in all directions. We were far from most machines and had to share the premises with only a few other stalwart vacationers. Unlike at those reunion get-togethers, when children and barbecues abound, we could hear the sounds of nature for a change — animals nattering away in the distance, wind bristling through the trees, our voices echoing lightly in the hills and along the walking paths.

Sugar Creek snow, Turkey Run State Park

Sugar Creek with sugar-colored coating.

As the present day turns to grey ooze and so many dead lawns resurface to haunt us, even if it’s only temporary and we end up choking on another snowpocalypse next week, my plan in this moment is to treasure that calm, beautiful, bygone weekend one more time, and remind myself that these ever-changing, temperamental seasons don’t always hate us and want us dead.

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