This early spring has led me to the "back road" between Marquette and Negaunee nearly every afternoon.
That's County Road 492. In good weather, that's the route I travel to return to my home after my work shift. In the depths of winter, the windy road can be a bit too icy for my liking so U.S. 41 is the main road for the journey home.
Winter is not my favorite season.
As the extraordinarly wonderful, almost-summer, weather has allowed, CR 492 is once again the road more traveled by me.
It seems odd to be on this road in March. Usually, winter still has its icy grips on us all this time of year. This year is vastly different, however. It seems more May than March in recent days and taking the more scenic, albeit, slower route home has done wonders for my mood.
Driving along this road, I generally don't have anyone pulling out in front of me as often happens on 41. Normally, there's no one tailgating and there are very few vehicles coming at me from the opposite direction.
You don't have to tell me: I'd never make it as a "city" driver.
These easier conditions make it more comfortable for me to indulge in one of my favorite pastimes, listening to music.
Some days, it's the radio. It's fun to hear new artists and new songs from favorite artists while gliding along the roadway.
For instance, it was on a drive home a few years ago that I discovered my affinity for Kings of Leon, first hearing their music on the radio in my Blazer one sunny afternoon. That was a "who is that?" moment when you hope the DJ lets you know after the song the name of the artist.
Thankfully, the DJ came through.
It's also how I heard "Lonely Boy" by The Black Keys, another new favorite band of mine, and "I Won't Give Up," by Jason Mraz, whose music has long been one of my guilty pleasures.
But there are days when only a CD will do. My copy of Adele's "21" is probably about worn out. It has been in my possession since the week it was released in the U.S. and has been my musical obsession ever since.
Popping "21" in and letting go the stresses of deadline and the rest of a shift at a busy newspaper office: Those are things the "back way" make easier.
Being afforded the chance to take the back way home in March gives me a different perspective on this road. It has always been a gorgeous drive, especially in autumn when the trees are ablaze with myriad colors.
In summer, it's a lush green vista, seemingly cooler than the more congested 41 corridor.
But this March, a month so often still in winter's captivity in the Upper Peninsula, the road has seemed new to me. With the leafless trees, I notice how lovely many of the homes along it are. The road's shoulders carry much more foot traffic than usual for March as well. And people are smiling while they're out there.
This crazy warm spell has done much to improve people's moods, don't you think? For me, the weather plus the quieter way home combine to put me in a better frame of mind.
Good enough to even handle an April snowstorm if that comes to pass.
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org