By Christy Walcott
There’s just something about spring that’s hard to explain. With the first warm day, whether it occurs in early March or holds off until late April, you feel your senses awaken. The crisp, pure winter air is replaced with all the scents you’d forgotten – damp soil, fallen leaves and sprouting grass, not to mention your neighbor’s wafting BBQ. Opening the windows and letting it all in seems like a true luxury not to be taken for granted. Before you even have time to put away your winter boots for the year, the days feel longer, the sun shines brighter, and you know spring is here to stay.
If you’ve had the luxury of being in Gaylord during one of these magical moments, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. While our summers are absolute bliss, you might not want to hold out next year and should think about adding a spring getaway to your schedule. Here’s a rundown of what early spring, sometimes the overlooked “shoulder season,” has to offer:
Experiencing “winter” in the spring
I’m not a winter person, but I gave it my all this year. After investing in snowshoes, the temperatures seemed to instinctively drop below my comfort zone to keep me glued to the couch. I found my love for snowshoeing later in the season, venturing through the Sturgeon River Valley during a brief warm spell (topping out at 30 degrees!). Once I got hooked, the snow started melting and I set my now beloved snowshoes on a shelf in the garage, certain they would not touch the ground again until next year. But I was wrong.
An early April snowstorm hit out of nowhere and blanketed us with another 2 feet of fresh powder. While the old me would have felt nothing but despair (sounds dramatic, but it’s true), the new me saw this as an opportunity. The temperature quickly climbed back up and as the landscape was slowly thawing, I ventured out on my new favorite toys as much as possible. Feeling like some sort of snowshoe expert, I even coerced two first timers into following me off the trail, up and down hills and over fallen limbs just to say we had snowshoed our hearts out in late April! Meandering through the barren poplar in Aspen Park on a sunny 60-degree day is now one of my favorite memories. If you have a winter passion, enjoying it with spring temperatures is an indulgence you don’t want to miss!
Wearing sandals in the snow
Along those same lines, there’s just something satisfying about slipping on a pair of shorts and your long-forgotten favorite sandals and venturing out when there’s still snow on the ground. Of course, wait for one of those cloudless days when you know you’ll find a (mostly) clear path. The North Central State Trail has a long, sunlit stretch just north of downtown Gaylord, where I found enough bare ground to head out for a stroll. The light breeze blowing gently over the melting banks along the edge of the trail was welcome and refreshing, making the sun feel even warmer on my arms. It was one of those moments where I truly appreciated seeing winter depart and promised myself I would be outdoors as much as I could in the coming months.
Looking for treasures
Yes, summer is amazing. The trees are lush with verdant leaves, loons and wood ducks float along the surface of hidden forest lakes and honey bees buzz lazily from flower to flower. But discovering each of these things for the first time is a whole new feeling. Just today, my husband pointed out the red tips of the maples as they start to bud. There’s an excitement to watching the world blossom around you. The first flowers of spring greet you with such eagerness that you need to capture their beauty in a snapshot. It may be too late to experience some of these “firsts,” but there’s still time to trek out into the Pigeon River Country State Forest or your secret happy hunting ground and search for the ever-elusive and coveted morel mushroom!
The morel of the story (mushroom pun intended)? Don’t let spring pass you by because you’re eager for summer sunsets and bonfires by the lake. Whether spring sneaks up on you in early March or holds out until the last minute, it’s more than just a precursor to the summer, it’s a season filled with its own enchantments, not to mention, a reason to wear your sandals in the snow.