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Like morels from the forest floor, there’s a point every winter when Wisconsin’s seasonal naysayers surface. Usually it’s on a below-zero weekend, but some years it’s after a third straight day of snowfall.
They swear for the fifth consecutive year that this was the last straw and they’re finally moving south.
There’s catharsis in complaint, so I don’t get too worked up about them, but I take a more holistic view of Wisconsin’s weather. I mean, do you even remember September?
In a country as vast as ours, you can pick your climate poison, and I’ll ride with our tough winters and temperate advantages over the hot, muggy extremes of Texas or the Deep South. You can always put on another sweater, right?
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And, sure, places like Sarasota or San Diego are basically always nice. But the truth – or, at least, my truth – is there are many, many ways to a beautiful day, and here we get all of them. We get the San Diego days – months of them. But we also get the singular joy of a sunny, mid-50s day with the crunch of leaves underfoot and a crisp night around the campfire waiting. We get that resplendent, so-bright-it-hurts day after a snowstorm, when all the world is crisp and white. And we get that first 40-degree day when the whole world is melting and smells like mud, and that first April push into the 60s when you start seeing bare shoulders again.
Some of these seasons are easier to appreciate than others, but I’m one of those imaginative people who believe that even the most miserable depths of winter leave a positive mark long term. Yes, crappy winters build character. But it’s also the spice balancing the sugar of May to October.
I have a hard time envisioning myself living anywhere other than Wisconsin. But if that does happen, I think it’ll be the seasons – every one of them – I’d miss the most.
How to Make the Most of Each Season
WINTER: Invest in a good pair of snow boots. Wisconsin-based retailers like Duluth Trading Co. and Lands’ End offer options fit for everything from a 10-minute shovel job to six subzero hours sitting on a bucket on frozen lake.
SPRING: Live off the land, at least for an afternoon, and eat richly by learning how to identify and harvest morel mushrooms, which typically grow in abundance in the northern half of the state from late March through May.
SUMMER: Spend as much time on the water as you can. Try sailing classes through the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center or learn how to surf with help from members of the Surfrider Foundation.
FALL: Play tourist for a day or two by taking a trip up to Door County when the foliage there is at its peak – usually late September to mid-October. Just be sure to book your stay in advance, unless you like sleeping outside in October.