28 Feb


Day 28 of Loving MN Winter


on February 28, 2017   comments 1

I #LoveMNWinter. Today, I love that we’re one day closer to real spring.

By Connor Phelan

Well friends, we made it! It is officially the last day of February (can I get an Amen?), even if the temperature has been feeling much more like spring.

I’m new to Minneapolis as of August 2016 and this is my first year tackling winter biking. Can I really even say that I’ve been trying winter biking, though, when we’ve had, like, three days of snow? Meh.

But what an adventure it has been. This February has taught me more about how to layer than basically any month ever (or at least since I’ve been bike commuting). I’ve learned that you may be wearing your fleece and windbreaker on your way to work in the morning, but by the time you leave the office, you’re trying to remove as many layers as possible while maintaining an acceptable level of non-nudity in public (and if you’re me, the instant you get home you rip off your shirt because even after stripping down, you’re STILL a hot mess).


Me, after my freezing (literally, it was -6 degrees that day) ride to the office.

February also taught me that when the snow melts and it becomes that kind of gross slush, the roads become littered with all of the sand and salt that was used to de-ice the roads a month ago. Totally fine for cars — but where does said salt all end up after a few days of snow-free roads? The bike lanes, of course! I discovered this quickly (and unpleasantly) after a day or so when I pulled my beloved Hot Tamale road bike back out of hiding and rode it to work and home. It felt great to be back on my favorite bike and I remembered all over again why I love biking so much.

And then, that dreaded sound hit. The sound of your chain squeaking and grinding all of that gritty sand with each pedal rotation. At first, I was just straight up confused — it was a new chain and I took super good care of my bike! But then one day I got smart and pulled the chain off to wipe it down. And what did I find? All of that glorious sand stuck in every little nook and cranny of my freewheel. Whyyyyyy??!!

Good thing we were still in a full-swing global warming week so it was warm enough to wash the Hot Tamale outside on the back porch. She is still in about 40 pieces because I did that thing where you don’t bother to take a picture of how everything fits back together before you take it apart so whatever thing it is (in this case, my bike) sits there sadly staring at you like, “Why did you do this to me?” and all you can say is, “I’M SORRY I WAS TRYING TO MAKE IT BETTER!” And then you just can’t look at your sad bike anymore so you turn the other way and go get yourself a glass of kombucha. Or whatever kale-loving people are drinking these days.


The beloved Hot Tamale’s pieces, after being scrubbed clean, now lay out to dry.

Anyway, I realize this is now getting way off topic from what I learned about biking in MN winter and why I love winter biking so much. So, I will leave you with this: Winter biking has taught me a lot about dressing for whatever temperature Mother Nature decides to throw at us, the importance of cleaning out your chain frequently, and that you should smile at other bikers you pass on your way to wherever you’re going because no matter why you bike, we are the people that make the biking community beautiful.

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

25 Feb


Day 25 of Loving MN Winter


on February 25, 2017   comments 17

I #LoveMNWinter. Today, I love biking and birds!

By Monica Bryand


One of the things that gets me through any time of year are the birds. I’m unfortunately one of those bikers that might get a little distracted when I hear a call and then try and locate it or if I see an eagle or a hawk flying overhead, wanting to take in the beauty of their flight (much easier to do on a bike then in a car). In February it’s the nuthatches, chick-a-dees and woodpeckers that keep me smiling along with the cardinals and robins that are already starting their spring calls.


Since about February 2012 I’ve posted a bird of the day on Facebook (these are photos that I’ve taken). It’s my way of sharing a little joy to start the day and bring some awareness to protecting habitats for both birds and humans. This spring I’ll be biking and birding around the lakes looking for ducks and other water fowl and would love some company, more details to follow.


Photos by Monica Bryand

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

24 Feb


Day 24 of Loving MN Winter


on February 24, 2017   comments 0

I #LoveMNWinter. Today, I love the joy of cracking ice.

By Yasmiene Mabrouk

Yasmiene1.pngOne of the most exciting and scary parts about winter is ice. There have been a couple nights this winter when we’ve had freezing rain and I couldn’t walk even two blocks without almost falling multiple times. I definitely slipped and had the shock of feeling out of control, like no matter how carefully I walked I might still fall.

This is my first winter back in the Midwest after five years on the California coast. One of the ways I knew I needed to move is that I missed winter. I planned a weekend in Yosemite with my sister last February so that I could see snow and feel the cold. (Photo right by Elizabeth Mabrouk)

After that trip I realized one weekend was not enough. I needed months of winter.

So, here I am! It was a hard start to the winter for me with so many frigid days in December. What has surprised me the most since then is the joy of cracking ice. I spent almost five minutes by the bus stop sliding on a huge unblemished sheet of ice that had water underneath, making bigger and bigger cracks until finally it broke and water poured forth.

Yasmiene2.png Photo by Alex Borland

Whenever there is ice in my path now, I try to crack it or slide on it. There’s a spot by my house that was as smooth as a fresh skating rink. I feel so playful when I’m sliding on the ice to watch the water underneath move. I look up and wonder if anyone has caught me playing on the ice.

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

23 Feb


Day 23 of Loving MN Winter


on February 23, 2017   comments 18

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

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