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January 08, 2014 - Bromley's Beat

The world stopped last weekend.

Well, OK, so maybe it wasn't the whole world. Maybe it was just part of the world. Maybe it was just a very small corner of the world like southeast Michigan, and maybe it didn't really stop so much as it just slowed down.

Regardless, I find it fascinating how a weather event-- in this case, snowfall that ranged close to 20 inches in some places followed by temperatures that plummeted to almost 20 below-- still yields so much power even in this time and place.

Technological advances allow us to know when a storm is coming, even details for how much snow may fall and what the temperature may be. We run to the grocery store and stock up on milk and bread and prepare for the worst, because that's what we expect-- the worst.

But is it really the worst?

I dread winter in Michigan, I admit. I dread the snow and the perilous roads. I dislike driving in snowy, icy conditions and I hate worrying about those I love driving in it. Shoveling snow in the cold isn't fun. Paying high gas bills isn't fun. Worrying about the pipes freezing and whether the nearly 20-year-old furnace is going to decide it's worked enough overtime and it's time to quit-- not fun.

But it wasn't always so. Winter used to be fun.

Remember when we were kids? If you're struggling to remember, just take a look at your own children. Snow days were a cause for celebration-- no school and lots of sledding and making of snowmen.

When this latest storm hit, I wasn't anticipating it with the joy of a child, but in the midst of all my anxiety about it, something wondrous happened.

I gave in.

Relinquishing control to Mother Nature is freeing and opens your eyes and ears to that which you may have forgotten and allows you to see and hear in new ways.

As the snow fell all through the day on Sunday, I remained in my home with my husband and daughter (and our dog). We watched movies. We took down Christmas decorations. We played games and I made turkey noodle soup and we enjoyed spending time together without a worry for what was going on beyond our door and it was great.

A storm has a way of stripping life down to the essentials. We had food, we had water, we had heat and shelter, and we had each other, all we needed.

The snow stopped late on Sunday, but the after effects continued. The cold beat the plows. The roads were icy with temperatures too low for salt to be effective. We stayed in and the adventure continued. Schools were closed, seemingly everywhere. It was a snow day for adults, too-- with libraries and municipal offices closed, meetings and truck deliveries cancelled, businesses shuttered. A sense of comraderie develops in such trying times, an attitude of "We're all in this together."

I like such an attitude. I wish it was constant and not just in times of perceived crisis.

The storm ceased to be a crisis for me early on. It simply was. There was nothing to be done about it, there was nothing that would change it.

On Monday morning, while my family slept, I ventured outside to 10-plus inches of snow coating everything. I knocked snow off three vehicles and began clearing snow off the driveway. After heaving probably 30 shovelfuls of snow, each feeling like 30 pounds, I hesitated. I was tired, it was cold and there was a dull ache in my left arm, but in that moment, the sun broke free of the clouds and the snow shimmered like crystals in that sparkly, glittery, beautiful way that I remembered from childhood. I gazed down my street, a still, pristine world of white in which nothing moved including me, and listened to... silence. A sound so rare in our busy lives, and one that is musical to me.

The storm didn't stop the world, but it made me pause in mine. Let it snow.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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