Saturday Across Four Seasons: Thoughts on Weather

How I’ve learned to embrace Michigan weather.

By Allison Kolpak February 22, 2022
Saturday Across Four Seasons: Thoughts on Weather

I grew up in Denver, Colorado, where the sun shines 300 days each year, and the days are almost always beautiful and bright — even when it’s five degrees outside. Naturally, one of my biggest concerns about moving to Michigan was the seasonal absence of sun and omnipresent cold I’d been warned about by Midwesterners. Nearly three years after making the decision to come to Michigan, I’ve learned to embrace the erratic Michigan weather, and thought I’d write about how I spent similar days across all four seasons.

Summer: Saturday, July 10, 2021. 72º.

trees and green grass in the summer
Trees in summer.

Summers in Ann Arbor are exceptionally sunny and warm, with afternoon rain showers once or twice each week and cool nights. It’s not uncommon to see towels laid out in the front lawns of countless houses, each with someone reading, tanning, or chatting. Every Saturday morning, my roommates and I take advantage of the weather with a walk to the farmers market, where we always pick up flowers to keep on the coffee table and pastries for breakfast. A few times each summer, we take our inner tubes and swimsuits to the Huron River, where we’ll drift down until we wind up somewhere in the Arb and walk home in time for a barbecue with our neighbors.

Fall: Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. 65º.

campus in the fall
Campus in fall.

Ann Arbor autumn is usually brought up in rebuttal by students upon hearing complaints about Ann Arbor winter. It’s beautiful, colorful, and altogether lovely. For most of September, I start my mornings sipping coffee on my front porch, inevitably seeing a friend or two walk by on their way to class and hoping they stop to chat for a bit. Campus lawns and quads are covered with students reading on blankets, and frequent conversations planning trips to cider mills and apple orchards. Saturdays, however, are different. Each gameday as the month goes on and the temperature drops, I need to wear slightly longer sleeves or a slightly warmer jacket, but it never gets so cold that I’m not excited to stand outside in a stadium for four hours.

Winter: Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. 18º.

Today was cold. The kind of cold that requires two jackets, a hat, and wool socks on just my 10-minute walk to class. Midwest winters are almost exactly as I was told they’d be, and it can be tiring to miss the sun for days on end. But, as I left my house the week after and excitedly thought about how lovely it was outside, at 35º instead of 20º, I realized it does make me much more grateful for the days we do feel warmth and sun.

Even in the freezing weather, my friends and I bundle up and throw snowballs at each other in the Law Quad. Returning home, we see our other roommate has built a miniature snowman on the porch “to protect the house.” His name is Douglas.

Spring: Saturday, March 20, 2021. 52º.

purple flowers in spring
Flowers in spring.

Before college, I thought spring was my least favorite season. I never cared for the rain, mud, incessant bird-chirping, and the awkward sense of being stuck between winter and summer. Now, however, it just might be my favorite time of year. More specifically, the one day each spring that inevitably falls somewhere around the end of March when I realize that it’s warm outside. Maybe it’s not hot, and maybe still worthy of a light jacket, but the first day sunny and pleasant enough to sit outside for a few hours is always an incredible day. Then, the sun will retreat, and there will be just enough cold days that make me extra grateful when it comes back out again, even warmer this time. This will usually be the first day of the year that I wear shorts, and subsequently send a text to everyone in my phone about how excited I am to be wearing them without risk of hypothermia. It only gets nicer and warmer as March turns to April. The Diag begins to fill up with picnics and hammocks again, walks to class become chatty and relaxed, and bits of green begin to peek through rows of trees on campus.

These days, when I start to notice the changes, make me a more observant, easily excited person. I couldn’t say there aren’t days I miss the dependable sunshine of my home state. But the changes in the weather and seasons, however capricious and inconvenient to dress for, have turned me into someone whose mood can be drastically lifted just by seeing the first tree in the Arb turn orange, the first successful snowman of the season being built, or one pleasant, warm day in March.

Allison Kolpak
Allison Kolpak

Allison Kolpak is a junior in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy with minors in Business and Economics. She is involved with BOND Consulting Group, a staff writer for the Every Three Weekly, and a member of Net Impact and Sigma Kappa Sorority. Allison is from Denver, and loves skiing, sailing, cooking, and sudoku.