Living In A Winter Wonderland: Christmas In Michigan

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Living In A Winter Wonderland: Christmas In Michigan

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“You must take a trip out to see Lake Michigan in the winter,” our new-found American friends exhorted. “You won’t believe your eyes!”

We smiled, nodded, and dutifully noted the recommendation down on our mental Places-to-Visit list.

But we were new to the massive, wide-open spaces of America. There was so much to see and explore and discover, and although Lake Michigan was definitely on our list, we’d always imagined that a visit to its shoreline would be much more fun during the summer months when we could relax on the beach. So when we finally decided to drive out to Lake Michigan on a bitterly cold winter’s morning, 10 years after emigrating to the US, we realized why our friends had recommended it. I remember trying to imagine what I’d see when we arrived and envisaged a huge sheet of smooth, glassy ice, like a giant skating rink.

Nothing could have been further from the truth.

Kayle Kaupanger via Unsplash

Bundled up in our warmest hats and winter boots, we scrunched through the snow on the beach towards what we assumed was the edge of the lake. But it was impossible to make out where the beach ended and the lake began. I gazed out in utter amazement at the frozen tundra in front of me and wondered if I’d somehow ended up at the North Pole.

Giant boulders of ice were piled on top of each other as far as the eye could see. People clambered up and down over them while children zoomed down slides created from these natural ice sculptures or hid in the snow caves that had been hollowed out at the edge of the pier where the snowbanks were over ten feet tall.

Hide Obara via Unsplash

I looked out over this incredible landscape and felt, as I took my first faltering steps onto the frozen lake, like Scott of the Antarctic. Was it safe? But I needn’t have worried. The waters of Lake Michigan were hiding deep below, under a massive shelf of ice over three feet thick.

Each year, when temperatures dip below freezing, Lake Michigan’s waves freeze over and as the ice begins to expand it cracks and pushes its way upwards, creating an impressively surreal landscape that lasts throughout the winter months. And although snow-covered pine trees might be the preferred Christmas scene, Lake Michigan’s frozen tundra is a winter wonderland in itself.

Lake Michigan

Renowned children’s author and Happy Ali guest contributor Glenys Nellist
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