People in this area of Michigan know how to pack a lot of living into the 8 months of non-winter. The natural beauty of the beaches, lakes and forests means people can enjoy the warm weather as much as anyone in the country. Growing up in Michigan I remember hearing the saying:

“If you can’t handle the winters….you don’t deserve the summers”.

However the old fable about the “Ant and the Grasshopper”  (the lazy grasshopper ignores the coming winter) has been taken to heart here. There are no “grasshoppers” in southwestern Michigan.

The first weekend after Labor Day sets the wheels in motion and people begin to prepare for the death-grip of winter. It would be easy to be a lazy grasshopper and take it easy during the fall season. After all…the forests are turning beautiful colors, the local harvest festivals are in full swing, the weather is still mild, the wineries are conducting wine tasting weekends and life is good. You could just kick back and enjoy the fruits of the season.

However if you open your eyes you can see work that is being done to winterize everything.

The beaches are officially closed. So even though you can go to them…they have no attendants, no restrooms or concessions open. The big public beaches even string snow fence to manage the shifting sands. During the summer tractors and plows are used to keep the drifting sand out of parking lots. However once they are closed nature begins to reclaim the man-made areas.

Marinas and yacht clubs begin taking boats out of the water and winterizing them. Most of these boats are not  of the inland lake variety…they are built to handle the waves of the fresh-water sea called Lake Michigan. The bustling rivers and waterways of summer become empty parking lots for the winter.

We were so depressed we had to go to a pizza place on the beach and reminisce.