Saturday, March 21, 2009

Cold, Again

We woke this morning to new snow. Even with the humidifier, the house is dry and the girls are having a really hard time sleeping with their itchy throats and noses. We just spent a long weekend in Grand Rapids and there was no snow; we didn't even wear coats, just sweaters. Now, back in the cold, we're disenchanted with our surroundings. I know so many people who make lemonade slush from these lemon snowballs out the window, snowshoeing and snowboarding and skiing, but I just can't get into it. 'When the girls are older,' I keep telling myself, 'I'll get into the snow and they'll love it as they grow up in this cold climate.' But they are big enough to know; big enough to love the snow already and Berit isn't buying it. Marta does; Marta is game for any adventure that doesn't interfere with her nap schedule. Berit is content to play indoors all day long, changing clothes constantly and begging us to play make-believe with her. 

We were so reluctant to head north again when we were downstate. We had taken the girls to the dinosaur exhibit at the museum, then out to eat, and then to Target for easy and fun shopping (twice I've written Target, asking them to build in Petoskey; twice I've been rejected). The whole drive back we were quiet, thinking about where we live and why we live here. We do love our friends, family and faith community; we love the summer months; we love the small-town feel and the way there are no cliques, no yummy-mummy types, no competition at the toddler level. We are blessed with Trevor's career on the lake and we know we couldn't replicate that anywhere else. 

But still. There is this pull to a more diverse area, a place where we could go to museums in 10 minutes instead of planning whole weekends around a visit. A mall to wander around, a public garden, a dog park. Restaurants; enough of them so that we haven't tried them all and are tired of them already. Gymboree and tap dance and violin lessons that are for young children and don't cost a college tuition. 

I am not a city girl; Trevor has many times asked me to consider moving to Chicago and I flatly refuse. But I wouldn't mind having a city nearby, maybe even living in a wooded area with small-town charm within a city. 

We talk about this every winter, and with every one that passes we know we're getting further from doing something about it. Once the children are in school it'll be even more difficult to tear ourselves away, if we decided to (though the schooling options are so much more appealing elsewhere, too). 

We know that Trevor's job is one-of-a-kind and that a move would threaten our comfort, our security. But is it best for our children to have options? If I were a fan of Northern Michigan reading this  right now, I'd ramble off a list of all the options they have here in what so many refer to as "God's Country." The nature, and beauty, growing up knowing most of the people in town (though this is getting less and less valid). The spring, summer and fall months are wonderful for exploration and discovery in the greenery out our front door. But truthfully, those seasons are only half of the year here -- the other half is cold, icy and snowy. 

The other pull, the immense gravitational force that is turning my head southwest constantly, is my family. My sister and brother-in-law are moving to Holland, a young couple with children in their near future, a new home, a new dog. My brother is headed to Hope College this fall, under a mile from my sister's house. We didn't all live together long growing up; I was in college by the time my brother was five. I can't imagine wanting to be by two people more in adulthood, raising families and growing lives. Trevor's brother and his family are also in the area, and the cousins are the best of friends. I didn't grow up near my cousins and I wish I had. I wonder if Trevor finding a lesser job is worth being near everyone. It sounds simple; of course it seems like that should be true, but when it's you, when you pay your bills and you know you'll have more children soon and that you'll need a bigger car, Catholic school tuition, instruments and all the other things you want to offer your children, it's difficult to walk away from the lake that provides for us.

Today we'll stay indoors. We're having friends over tonight; we'd planned to grill kebobs and now we'll do it as the snow falls around us and we leave heavy boots by the slider door as we go in and out, checking on the food. We might venture out to clear the snow from the bird feeders and get the mail. If we were downstate, what would we do? Go to a park? Meijer Gardens?

I know I sound depressing. If my mom read my blog she'd think, "Quit moping and go ice skating. Enjoy it; you're healthy and have two beautiful children. Find the good parts about living Up North and help your children experience them." She'd be right, too, but in truth we've been doing that for months and we are over it

In two months I'm going to be writing about the bounties of Northern Michigan; about the sun and the air and the water, and about the music in the park, the ice cream, the trails and the natural springs we find along our way. We'll be planning trips to the island, which is only a half-hour away, and in even less time we'll be hunting for morels in the damp woods, heavy with spring. 

But right now, as I look out the windows in my living room and see the snow clinging to the trees, see the yard knee-high with icy precipitation that makes even snow angels impossible, see the gray, ever-gray sky, I wonder if the grass really is greener on the other side. 


andrea said...

It is greener! Much, much greener in Holland! Even Grand Rapids. Come, come, come!!! That is my vote.

Candace said...

2 votes for that!!