Just past the winter solstice, Michigan has about six hours less daylight than it does in mid-summer, so it can can feel pretty dark and gloomy. For nocturnal animals, the long night means more overlap with people. On New Year's Day, this raccoon (Procyon lotor) was in my backyard during dinner.
I teach economics at Kalamazoo College. My wife is also an economist. We were on sabbatical in Europe for the 2014-15 academic year. (Salamanca, Spain, followed by Oxford, UK.) We were in Uruguay for the 2006-7 academic year.