Whew! Winter is finally in our rear view mirrors. All of Michigan’s 83 counties experienced a humdinger, didn’t they? Persistent cold, high accumulations without a traditional midseason thaw, an abundance of snow days, and The Great Lakes nearing an ice-cover record made the Winter of 2013 one for the books! Yowsers! I’m as ready for spring as the next guy, but let’s be honest about winter in Michigan, too. We all love it! Winter is as much a part of who we are as the DNA that determines our eye and hair color. We love seeing how southern towns react when hit with an inch or two of snow. Schools close, YouTube videos of garbage trucks pirouetting down the interstate are circulated, and news crews are on the scene! Why do we find such humor in our southern neighbors’ response to what we consider a “light dusting”? Bragging rights, pure and simple. We Michiganians are a tough bunch—enduring months of snow and frigid cold, driving to and from work (uphill both ways), and sending kids to the bus stop on days when the slightest breeze can leave cheeks raw and chapped. And, when warm weather friends call to complain about an inch of snow or temperatures below freezing, we can let loose! “Heck, we got a foot last night! It’s minus 8 with wind chills at 35 below and schools have been closed all week!” Not for the faint of heart, winter gives folks true grit, an identity. Anybody can do sunny and 75, but it takes seasoned Michiganians to handle negative temperatures and snow up to their backsides! Floridians have lawn mowers. A rake or two. But look in any Michigan garage and you will find all that plus an assortment of snow blowers, shovels, ice choppers, snow scoops…an arsenal for the war with winter we secretly enjoy waging year after year. Enjoy the warm months ahead. You’ve earned ‘em! And while boating, camping or lazing on the beach this summer, pay attention to the number of times you catch yourself bragging about how you survived the infamous “Winter of 2013.” Because you will. And, you should. The seasons make us who we are. And we are from Michigan, home of the real winter! P.S. I am looking forward to talking with you through this column (every other issue), so if you have a topic idea to share about unique Michigan people, places and things, give me a shout to jack@countrylines.com or write: J. O’Malley, 2859 W. Jolly Rd., Okemos, MI.