It's that time of year again, that glorious trio of months we call summer in the Upper Peninsula.
They don't last too long, but I believe that's what makes U.P. summers special. They force us to take advantage of them before we find ourselves, once again, spending our evenings curled up on the couch, warm and cozy in a blanket with a cup of hot cocoa, reading an old favorite book by lamplight because the sun set three hours ago.
This time of year, instead of curled up in a blanket, we find ourselves sitting on one as we picnic in a park or tan on the beach. We sit in lawn chairs and talk lazily of summers past and how odd this year's weather has been. We line sidewalks for parades, convene around campfires and reunite with family we haven't seen since last year.
In short, we become a community. Or, at least one that spends more time outdoors than in.
Growing up in the U.P., I know plenty of people who love the winters for their abundance of snow actives, and I can't think of a single one who would sit on a porch and shoot the breeze in a snowstorm.
But a heat wave, now that will bring the people out in droves. They'll flock to beaches or air-conditioned restaurants. They'll sit on their porches or in their backyards with a cool glass of iced tea, a panting dog resting in the shade.
Even though the population of Marquette booms during the school year, it has always seemed bigger to me in the summertime. Monday, on my 10-minute drive home from work, I'll see more people outside than I would in a week of winter weather.
That, my friends, is the power of an 80-degree day.
On those days, we say "Hi" to each other as we walk down the sidewalk, instead of rushing from our cars to whatever building we can't get to fast enough, our hoods pulled up and our heads tucked down against the biting wind and blowing snow.
We meet up at farmers markets to buy our food from neighbors and stop in at coffee shops or bars for a mug of whichever suits us better that day.
We spend whole days at the beach, testing the icy waters of Lake Superior with our toes before chickening out on jumping in. Or taking the plunge and feeling like the lake's namesake, if only for that day.
We bust out our tents and sleeping bags and spend a few evenings enjoying a supper of hot dogs and
We do so many things simply because we can: a bike ride around town, a seemingly harrowing leap off the black rocks at Presque Isle, a hike up Hogback Mountain.
It's certainly that time of year again. In fact, we're almost a third of the way through that time of year. And though I often wish it would last just a little longer, I know that part of what makes summer in the U.P. so great is that in only hangs around for a little while.
So I recommend spending the rest of your day outside. Take advantage of those rays of sunshine before you find yourself bundled into a parka, shoveling out your snow-filled driveway.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor's Note: Jackie Stark is a Marquette resident and a staff reporter at The Mining Journal. Her column appears bi-weekly. She can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.