23 Feb


Day 23 of Loving MN Winter


on February 23, 2017   comments 1

I #LoveMNWinter! Today, I love the opportunity for reflecting.

By Teresa Bina Zaffiro

I like to think about loving MN winter as both the physical things we do to embrace the cold and dark, as well as the mental and emotional work we do to embrace winter. For me, a big part of this is leaning into the time that winter gives us to reflect, plan and prioritize.

I think about this in terms of the everyday things we prioritize giving our time to, as well as the bigger picture reflections on how we live our lives and how we embrace our values. I think winter, more than any other season, gives us a rare opportunity for self-reflection. Whether it is because we have more alone time, more indoor time, or it’s something more cosmically aligned, I love that winter gives us this opportunity. For me, it is an essential part of my year.



I love the winter sunrises that are so simultaneously subtle and powerful. They remind me that even in the darkest times, the sun comes up every day, same as it always does. This is a picture of my street in Saint Paul, by the river.

In traditional Ojibwe belief system (and other tribes, as well), winter is a time for storytelling. The belief is that stories are told when snow is on the ground. Storytelling has always been an essential way in which cultural knowledge, language, belief systems and lessons have been passed down to generations.

I love the idea that during this time when life slows down, and we are all forced indoors to stay warm, that essential knowledge is shared in a communal way. In the cities, there are often community storytelling events hosted at places like the Division of Indian Work and other Native agencies. The last event I attended with my family was standing room only — people love to hear their stories! I think this goes to show how important this time for sharing, reflecting and talking with one another is. Additionally, as stories are shared, people have that opportunity to reflect on their own lives and values.



Winter is the best time to look at one’s life, evaluate priorities and get creative about making time for the things that are important in life. Pictured above is the start of my Winter 2016 “Life Priorities” Vision Board. I promise in the end my priorities were more than cats ;)

I love Minnesota winter because we get these chances to reflect, reset and prioritize. We also get the chance to share stories, listen to one another and learn from one another in settings that there might now always be space for in the warmer summer months when everyone is out and about doing everything they dreamed of during the winter. I think due to the intensity of our winters, Minnesotans embrace this ethic of intentionally sharing space with one another more than most places.

Thank you for reading why I #LoveMNWinter :)

Read about last year’s collaborative challenge to love one thing about winter everyday in February of 2016. Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls

22 Feb


Day 22 of Loving MN Winter


on February 22, 2017   comments 0

I #LoveMNWinter! Don’t Complain.

By Amanda Harvey

Amanda1.pngWhen my husband and I moved back to Minnesota after living in Tennessee for about five years, we were worried about re-acclimatizing to winter. Getting used to the stifling humidity and months of temperatures above 100 degrees was a priority upon moving south.

I spent lots of summer days with the all the windows open and fans on high. Riding my bike in skirts and dresses was breezy in all the right places and helped me deal with the heat. The return back north with thinner blood was concerning. So we came up with a plan: don’t complain about the weather.

It’s winter! Don’t complain. The plan sounds negative, but it actually frees up your mind to think about the positive. Keeping to facts was important. “It’s colder than yesterday, wear more layers” or “There’s a lot of ice on the trails, ride carefully.” We came up with solutions to the cold instead of fixating on being cold.


The Grease Rag Winter Skill Share was key in planning how to dress and shifting my perspective. Not complaining about the winter weather helped me to appreciate the positives of the season. Beautiful ice patterns on windows, muffled early mornings after a snow, and winter sports that are unique to northern climates. I started to look forward to snow and cold. My husband and I ice skated, played league broomball, took late night, snowy bike rides, watched pond hockey, and got a fatbike.

This year, I even tried a fatbike race. It didn’t go well. The problem was that it was too warm. Not that I’m complaining.


I love winter now because I love the change in all the seasons. Not everywhere gets winter, so it’s special. It’s fleeting. I want more winter, more snow, more layers, more hot chocolate with marshmallows. More winter bike rides that rejoice in the cold and snow that makes our state special.

Read about last year’s collaborative challenge to love one thing about winter everyday in February of 2016. Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls

21 Feb


Day 21 of Loving MN Winter


on February 21, 2017   comments 0

I #LoveMNWinter. Today, I love hygge.

By Lucy Roberts


Hygge: A Danish concept most closely understood in my mind as coziness and warmth.

I recently learned this term in a City Lab article authored by Melody Warnick (I strongly recommend giving it a read). I felt instantly inspired to embrace the fact that Minneapolis has the harshest and coldest winters in the lower 48, and it doesn’t necessarily prevent us from living our coldest days to their full potential.

I just wanted to share a few of the things I have found in this city that give me the feeling of hygge during the coldest, darkest days.

  • Grease Rag (duh)! More specifically, Grease rag open shops, skill shares & full moon rides. Shout out to you all who make those possible and enjoyable <3
  • Cheap merino wool from Saver’s
  • The sauna in the women’s locker room at the YWCA
  • #Winterbikingselfies
  • Passing someone on the greenway and giving the heads up because you are the only people you have seen for at least a mile
  • Encouragement from fellow cyclists that we can, in fact, do that damn thing and ride year round
  • The various coffee shops with fire places: shouts out to Dunn Bros near the north loop (conveniently located halfway between a work site of mine and my home)
  • Free ice skating (and skate rental) throughout the city — good looking out, Lake of the Isles!
  • Sledding!!
  • Heated benches at the downtown public library

One evening during the very first significant snowstorm, I was biking home and must have looked ridiculous sliding around the bike lane on 26 and Bloomington all by myself. A woman in her mini-van rolled down the window to ask if I was interested in taking a ride from her. Part of me wishes I did, just so I could have gotten to know this person better. What a kind gesture! Even though it was snowy, icy and cold outside, I’ll never forget how warm I felt after that interaction.

Here’s to inspiring warmth and coziness in all the WTF friends we encounter out there.

Read about last year’s collaborative challenge to love one thing about winter everyday in February of 2016. Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls

19 Feb


Day 19 of Loving MN Winter


on February 19, 2017   comments 1


I #LoveMNWinter! Today, I love Ice Bikes & Justice Shacks!

By Casey Wollschlaeger


The best balaclava is a fake beard. Casey & Confession Shanty  Medicine Lake, MN, 2009

As I write this, it’s sunny and grazing 60° F in Minneapolis, MN. My winter bike (still the same Kabuki pictured above) has been back in the basement for weeks. I’m leaving my studded tires on just in case the snow promised for later this week sticks. Next weekend is the last chance of the season for biking with the snow beasts of the Art Shanty Projects on White Bear Lake, cold temps withstanding. The Art Shanty Projects have a special place in my heart as the fun and cozy intersection of an art, bike, and social justice Venn diagram on ice.

Casey2.pngLady Bear on Ice, White Bear Lake, 2016

The ice was slick at the Art Shanty Projects last weekend with studded tires and crampons getting their day in the sun. This weekend was the all-access weekend, which included audio described and ASL interpreted tours and kick sled and pedicab rides in the Seal Bike to assist with transportation. February 24 and 25 is the closing weekend and one last chance to peddle around the lake on sparkly faux fur covered bike bear saddles, warm up while writing a message to congress in the Justice Shack, share stories at the Sensa-station Shanty, and get one more ride out of your winter rig.

Casey3.pngJustice Shack, White Bear Lake, 2017

Back in town, the roads are dry and it’s t-shirt and slicks riding weather. Earlier today, I caught myself dreaming of spring rides along the river and summer bike tour plans. I can see and feel signs of the thaw all around me: smiles and waves have replaced anonymous, bundled nods of solidarity seen through glittering eyelash icicles as we plow through drifts of potato starch and sand in the bike lanes; my shoulders are starting to relax from bracing against the wind; and pogies and fat tires have given way to bare hands and scant tire clearance.

Casey4.pngInspirational Insulation in the Justice Shack, 2017

While I relish the sun on my skin and speed of getting ready without wearing my own weight in winter layers, I’m not quite ready for winter to be over. There is a soft, stillness to winter on the plains/prairie/lake country where humans get to hibernate inside of fluffy blankets and frosty balaclavas. Silently biking through a fresh, sparkling blanket of snow on a clear night feels like a secret. Hot drinks and flannel sheets are rewards for riding home in a sleet storm. Blizzards and snow emergencies make room for reading books and writing letters. Our eyes peer out from our hats and scarves. I recognize friends by their bikes, cadence and silhouettes against a backdrop of white and gray.

Casey5.pngSealBike, White Bear Lake, 2017

I love the contrast and the balance of the seasons. It’s one of the reasons I moved back to the upper Midwest after 5 years of desert dwelling. I love biking on top of frozen lakes then swimming in them 6 months later. I love watching families ride around on seal bikes and pedal bears then switch to Surreys in spring. I love the security of studded tires on ice and a good healthy snowpack before a hot dry summer. I love the committed community of cold weather cyclists that convene at Grease Rag Full Moon Rides, on frozen lakes, at marches, and in living rooms in the midst of this increasingly unstable global and political climate.

Casey6.pngNote to Justice Seekers in The Justice Shack, White Bear Lake, 2017

Info about The Art Shanty Projects: http://www.artshantyprojects.org/

Info about how climate change affects our communities: http://www.naacp.org/issues/environmental-justice/

Read about last year’s collaborative challenge to love one thing about winter everyday in February, and post about it on this blog. Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls.

17 Feb


Day 17 of Loving MN Winter


on February 17, 2017   comments 0

I #LoveMNWinter. Today, I love biking in the 'burbs.

By Melody Hoffmann

bike-burbs.jpgI have been winter biking for about 10 years now. When riding around the city, I tire of all the exacerbated reactions. “You biked here?!” “How did you stay warm?!” “Aren’t you worried about a car hitting you?!” (FWIW, I am but that isn’t my responsibility. I stay in my skinny lane.)

Recently I ventured out to Coon Rapids with my bicycle and had a much different attitude about the whole thing. It wasn’t anything I prepped myself for. I just desperately needed some activity at the end of a cold snap. And a positive attitude followed.

I took my bicycle onto the 852 (thanks bus driver, for letting me on with it due to the full front bike rack) into Coon Rapids. The other bicyclists on the bus and I engaged in some chit chat (instant community when you carry bike gear). I requested a stop a few miles from my end destination. I hopped off at an intersection (the bus stops aren’t plowed in Coon Rapids) and enjoyed a leisurely ride to my errand destination.

I enjoyed the very generous road shoulders that allowed me to ride safely next to cars travelling 45 mph (the posted speed limit). When I rode onto skinnier sections of the road, drivers were surprisingly courteous. I was surprised because I just assumed suburban people who don’t interact with bicyclists would be less aware of the need to give me space. You know what they say about assumptions.

Then I pulled up to my errand spot and locked my bike to itself (I wasn’t too concerned about a fixed gear bike walking away in a car-centric shopping center). I carried my helmet in and engaged with the customer service worker. When they asked me if I biked, I affirmed but then added in something I usually don’t — a reason why. I said something like: “Yes, I did bike. It feels nice to get some exercise! It is such an easy way to get some activity in. And I stay warm because it’s like running. You get hot!” And I repeated this reasoning to the next person who asked me.

For some reason, I felt the need to be a bicycle ambassador that day. If I want more people to bike and more people to respect bicyclists on the road, then people need to hear why it is so beneficial. A lightbulb went off in my head. If I want people to give me space on the road out in Coon Rapids, it is best for me to smile and share a positive story. My hope is that it produces some empathy and that the next time that person passes a bicyclist they can put a symbolic face to the bicyclist.

Read about last year’s collaborative challenge to love one thing about winter everyday in February, and post about it on this blog. Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls.

Rendered archive in 0.36740398406982 seconds