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Is It Spring Yet?

Lake Leelanau - April 10th, 2014
It's a style of question often asked by children, especially when traveling (e.g., "are we there yet"). With 'The Great Winter of 2013-14' officially over, both children and grown-ups alike have been wondering if winter would ever end; the snow just kept coming, as did the unseasonable (and sometimes bitter, unrelenting) cold. By late April, both East and West Grand Traverse Bay, and Lake Leelanau across the street from us finally released their grip on the thick ice that blanketed them for the past few months. With an official Leelanau County accumulation of 263.4" of snow this season, this winter's stats have shattered many long-standing records.
Lake Leelanau - April 10th, 2014

With the lengthening of the days, massive snow piles we thought would be here 'til July are now all but gone. The last vestiges of lake ice are quickly melting. Even the once frozen solid shipping lanes around Lake Michigan are slowly becoming more ice-free. Lake Superior, which had an unusual number of ships damaged (and even stranded) this month by all the thick ice, is itself starting to let go of its' many icebergs (though it'll be well into May before that's all gone and ships can move freely without having to worry about that danger).

While our winter was exceptionally cold and dramatic, it was also very beautiful. Who could resist being awed by the immense expanse of thick ice on all of our five Great Lakes...some of which have not been frozen over in decades. And those ice caves! Lakes Superior and Michigan saw some incredible ice formations, the latter of which are the subject of a new book soon to be published by award-winning Leelanau County photographer, Ken Scott, that beautifully captures much of this once-in-a-lifetime event. By this first full week of May, the once grand ice caves have been reduced to still-impressive frozen monuments resting on the shallow waters of Lake Michigan. Brave souls have even been seen kayaking around the still-lingering ice formations as ice flows continue to hug the western Lake Michigan - Leelanau County shoreline, all the way out to the Manitou Passage. How unusual for the month of May!

A sailboat navigates around retreating ice
on W. Grand Traverse Bay on 4-24-14
Closer to home, snow-drop flowers have been sporting their small white blossoms amid the melting snow, while the crocuses have been in full bloom...a welcome sign of things to come. Soon, the forsythias will be sporting their bright yellow colors. Trillium will suddenly be in full bloom seemingly overnight, and cherry and apple blossoms will adorn their trees later in May. Like all of our seasons, spring is such a lovely, refreshing  time of year, coming especially out of such a long winter. Yes, it's beginning to look a lot like spring...Up North.