Gauging snowfall all a matter of perspective

Published 8:20 am Thursday, December 19, 2013

“I think you have brought me to the snowiest place on earth. Is this the North Pole?”

Those were the words that greeted me when I walked through the door for lunch Tuesday to see my wife, Rae, staring out the kitchen window into our white-blanketed backyard.

Although I’ve now lived here nearly three months, it was only my family’s third day in southwest Michigan. They were greeted by the foot and a half or so of snow that fell over the weekend.

This may not sound like a big deal to all you grizzled northerners out there, but it is certainly somewhat of a culture shock to those of us who have grown up a bit farther south in climates like eastern Kentucky and southern Ohio.

You see, we might get 12 inches of snow there — over the entire winter!

Of course, all my new Michigan friends are quick to point out that we haven’t seen anything yet. Still, it is an adjustment that we are certainly trying to embrace.

My children have experienced significant snow for the first time in their lives. My wife has to sort of learn to operate a car all over again since she has never really driven in the snow. I am learning all the little tricks like not opening your driver’s side door when your car is covered in snow and to raise your windshield wipers so they don’t freeze to the glass.

I have come to realize that gauging the amount of snow that falls is all relative. A big snow to my family might just be considered a few flurries here. Even a blizzard by Michigan standards seems, to us, like the ice planet from the Star Wars movie “The Empire Strikes Back” that was basically uninhabitable.

I’ve already shoveled more snow in just a few days than I probably have in the past decade. Several people suggested that I get a snowblower. I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I had never even seen one prior to a few weeks ago. I actually envisioned a leaf blower and was a little surprised to see they are far more industrial than that.

Some of these machines are so complex that you probably should have a license to operate them.

That purchase certainly jumped to the top of my shopping list.

But the welcome we have gotten from the community certainly helps thaw the frosty weather.

Local State Farm agent Joe Jilek lived up to the agency’s motto of “Like a Good Neighbor” by clearing my driveway on his own. The Brickleys welcomed us to the neighborhood with homemade cookies for my daughters.

The list goes on and on.

So, we may be in store for a long, cold winter, but we are feeling pretty warm inside where it counts.

Michael Caldwell is the publisher of Leader Publications LLC. He can be reached at (269) 687-7700 or by email at