Skip to content

Not Pretty

Fair warning: If one more person, no matter how well meaning, tells me, “Well, at least it’s pretty,” my snow shovel may turn into a lethal weapon.

Snow in springtime is not pretty. You know what’s pretty in springtime? A warm, white sand beach is pretty. A pastel sunset in Key West is pretty. A sweaty, umbrella-garnished piña colada in my tanned hand that I slurp while sitting under a cabana is pretty (or maybe even one version of heaven). But snow in Wisconsin, in March, (or in April and May, if history repeats itself) isn’t pretty. Let me be clear: springtime snow is NOT the soft and fluffy stuff that occasionally falls here. It’s not the kind of snow that skiers dream about, the kind of frozen and feather-light precipitation that can be easily and quickly cleared with a leaf blower. No sir/ma’am. Springtime snow in Wisconsin is almost always wet. As such, it is very, very heavy, clogging snow blowers and wrecking backs. The trees that shade our sidewalks in the summer strain under this kind of snow, blocking those same sidewalks before succumbing to the pressure and collapsing under the weight. It’s the kind of snow that is perfect for making snowmen and, in fact, entire snow families, along with snow houses for them to live in, structures that can withstand hurricane-force winds. I mean, this stuff is like wet cement.

After our last snowstorm a few weeks ago, these poor things actually heaved out of the ground and blocked our driveway. So this is an improvement.

My dog loves it. She sticks her nose underneath the weighted blanket of white like she’s a snow plow. And then she rolls in it, over and over again. She actually looks sad when I’ve finally finished shoveling and call for her to come in. Do you know how long it takes to dry off a full-grown Labrador? How your creaky knees and achy back feel as you crouch next to her, towel in hand, while she struggles to break free? And no matter how well I dry her off, when I finally release her, she heads straight to our couch, where, before I’ve even risen from my crouch, she rubs her still-damp body along the entire length of it. Did I mention that she’s a chocolate Lab and that my couch is beige?

When I and my back were younger and had the ability to easily shovel out of a dozen snowstorms a season (even springtime snowstorms with cement-like snow), I vowed I would never become a snowbird. I scoffed at those weaklings who fled to warmer climates as soon as the first flake fell. We Wisconsinites were made of tougher stuff, I’d brag to my soft Arizona relatives. I’d lecture them about how wonderful it was to have four seasons of weather, how climate variety was good for the soul. I’d smugly point out that they were held captive in their air-conditioned houses during their 100-degree plus summers just like we had to hunker down here in the wintertime. Except that, with proper clothing and a little moxie, we could actually go outside and play, go hiking and sledding, ice skating and even ice fishing, rather than be held prisoners in our own homes.

Yeah, lately I’ve been rethinking all of that BS.

It’s true that the tethers that have long bound me to this wonderful state are plentiful. Summers here can’t be beat. Likewise, springtime can be wonderful–when we actually have spring, rather than launching from thirty degrees straight into eighty over the course of a week, as has long been our custom here. And fall in the Midwest is usually delightful, especially the past several years, a sad and rare side benefit of climate change. Of course, my strongest ties are my Wisconsin friends and family. My mom, kids and grandkids have kept me anchored to this place where, for three long and cold months of each year, I don’t want to be. The past few years, we’ve been thinking about carving out several weeks, or even a month, away from this frozen tundra. I mean, would that be so wrong after enduring six decades of icy hell season?

So tell me, dear readers: where do you go when the snow flies? Where have you been that’s warm and wonderful when it’s freezing and awful here? Or what are the sunny paradises you dream about, the balmy utopias to which you long to flee so that you can get the hell out of snow-covered Dodge? Please share, but know that my parameters include only places that are reliably warm–and for this Wisconsinite, that means any place consistently above 60 degrees during the winter—and spring!—months. And I won’t even consider any suggestions that involve Florida or Texas, for reasons that would require a different, although equally ranting, blog post. Bonus points for those places that offer volunteer or other mission-based opportunities. Finally, I’d prefer ideas for locales that don’t require me to take out a reverse mortgage on my house.

The author, not amused. And potentially dangerous.

I’d appreciate your suggestions as quickly as you can share them. Because while I know a very good criminal defense attorney, and although I’m pretty sure that mittened hands don’t leave fingerprints behind, I can’t say I’ll be able to trust myself much longer not to use my snow shovel in ways for which it wasn’t intended. Because no matter what anyone says, this sh*t isn’t pretty.  

You know who you are. And you’ve been warned.


  1. We had to cancel participation in an INDOOR TRACK MEET today because our school does not allow bus travel during a winter storm warming. Last year we lost five meets in the spring because of the weather. We no longer have fall. We have September fall, October summer, November fall, and December fall. January spring, February spring/mild winter, and then March winter, April winter, and May spring/Summer followed by wet Summer warm and tropical Summer.

    • You nailed it, Frank. And you’re not even a meteorologist! Sorry about the meet, and thanks for your accurate reframing of the Wisconsin seasonal calendar.


  2. Kind of pretty – especially if it’s only six inches of the light, fluffy stuff and melts in two days. Hey, what’s that square patch on your beanie? Could it be high tech protection from a metal projectile launched by those resisting your snow shovel? Or just a fashion statement? As for fabulous beaches, Puerto Peñasco is 4 hours from Phoenix and San Diego is 5 hours. In addition Puerto Peñasco is known for unlimited, cheap drugs, without prescription, including those for anxiety and mood enhancers. Do your best Karaoke – “Don’t worry about a thing, ‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right.”

    • Ah, Mike, your words never fail to disappoint. I think Jimmy Fallon could use some new material. Give him a call. And remember that when you get the job, I get tickets.


  3. OMG, just when I needed a belly laugh, you came through~

    • Happy I could make you smile, Christy!


  4. Yup! The “But, I love four seasons” refrain gets tired when you see tulips poking out of the snow just hoping for some decent spring weather!
    Hang in there, my friend. We will be in the garden soon and all this wet heavy snow will be a distant memory. In the meantime, try chocolate 💕

    • Barb, I’ve eaten so much chocolate these past few months, my blood is probably the same color. I would love for this to be a distant memory, but it’s more like a nightmare that shows up every year, dashing my hopes for a real spring under the crushing weight of wet snow. You’d think by now that I’d know better. One of the perils of being an eternal optimist, I guess. Still better than the alternative!

      Thanks for the pep talk. I’m going out now to buy more chocolate.


  5. Once again you have eloquently reflected what so many of us (of a certain age) have been thinking but not willing to fully voice lest we be categorized as wimps. Our Jan-Feb escape to live on our boat docked somewhere south for the last couple decades was no longer an option in 2023. Selling her last year was bittersweet but tolerable because we could plan for a new adventure. Ruled out Florida (duh) so started looking north of that border along the coast. We ended up spending 6 weeks in Charleston and luuuuved it. Fabulous food, great people, history and near empty miles of beach to stroll. Temp usually around 60 daytime and mostly sunny. So March back here hasn’t seemed so bad. Let’s get that lunch on our calendar.

    • I’ve been to Savannah but didn’t have time for a proposed side visit to Charleston. Would love to pick your well-equipped and lovely brain about it–I’ve heard nothing but good things. Email me some lunch dates when you’ll be back!


      • Preaching to the choir……real spring needs to get here!

  6. Jill,
    Agree with Christy on the belly laugh. Thank you.
    I understand completely. I love to shovel snow but my back no longer loves it! We spent the month of Feb on visiting friends during the road trip to ARBNB in Charleston (across the river in Mt Pleasant) and Savannah. It was a great warm diversion and a wonderful visit with Kris and Roger as a bonus. Consider it next year, we could build our own little commune.

    • How great that you were able to hang out with Kris and Roger, who are always up for a good time. And I love the commune idea! Sign us up!


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *