I #lovemnwinter! Today, I love ten things that only winter brings.
Read about this collaborative challenge to love one thing about winter everyday in February, and post about it on this blog. Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls, or check out last year's #lovemnwinter posts.
2013-2014 was the coldest winter of my life, and probably the same for many others who did not live in Minnesota before the 1990s. For those who missed out, here is a recap of conditions: days on end of below zero temps; gas and electric bills through the frozen roof; several inches of ice that formed on the roads and never left; frequent snowstorms.
Credit: National Weather Service Duluth
The summer before this mini(sota) ice age, I had decided that MN would be home for the next several years. With this decision came the realization that, for the good of my mental health, I would have to form an optimistic disposition that defied my perceived reality.
Putting it plainly... winter was cold, and I would have to learn to deal with it like a champ.
That's right, I would attempt to join the ranks of those who ice fish; gardener year-round; camp on snow; jump in frozen lakes; write odes to snow falls; sled on the regular. I was going to start doing this winter thing.
Key to this attempt:
Not complaining about the weather
Letting my body get cold and paying attention to what it felt like, believing it wasn't simply "cold"
Following these two guidelines, I started getting outside and trying things I've never considered fun (let alone tolerable). Snowshoeing and winter walks around the neighborhood. Standing around a bonfire and working on bikes in cold garages. I asked my grandmother about our family's history and heard stories about how folks lived, survived, and even ENJOYED the winter before we had battery powered thermal underwear. Winter customs and celebrations became fascinating and I looked for ways to participate. Before long, I found myself saying things like "it's a dry-cold, warmer than yesterday."
What I realized in this transformation is that if you l#lovemnwinter, you get to experience something really special. You'll witness and celebrate things that other folks will never have the opportunity to. Life here is unique and nuanced and this wonder takes time to explain. Minnesotans can spend so much time defending ourselves for living in one of the most extreme states of the union (temperature wise), that we don't always take the time to describe the good stuff.
So, what's the good stuff?
1. Snow Sparkles
A certain kind of snow brings a certain kind of magic. It's soft, it's a "blanket", it's quiet. And you know what? There's a reason we have glitter in snow globes. Because it's SPARKLY!
Some foods I only enjoy in the winter: black eyed peas; squash; turkey; venison. What do you enjoy especially in the winter months?
The sting of your nostrils, a deep inhale, exhale. A cloud of exhaust. Tingly fingers, will they ever be normal again? Toes that feel as thick as sausages and thighs that burn. Air sneaking through a crack between my jacket and scarf. It feels crazy and amazing and so much more than simply "cold." The sensations of winter remind me that my body is alive, and interesting, and strong.
4. Cardinals and House Sparrows
Without the clatter of leaves and summer activity, you can clearly hear a cardinal call and the chitter chatter of house sparrows flocked together in a hedge.
Did you catch the 28 days of #lovemnwinter from last year? And we are doing it all over again this year!
6. Prints in the snow
I'm not a professional animal tracker, but I'll never be closer to it than after a fresh snow. Then, and only then, am I hot on the trail of little critters!
7. Blinding sun is the best sun
I've never felt "thirsty" for sun the way I do when it's cold outside. Frequently, I'll find myself pausing in a sunny window, letting the sun blind my eyes so my face can feel warmed. I imagine my body drinking up the Vitamin D and it feels wonderful! Vitamin D is my favorite winter food!
8. Walking on water
Y'all know it's crazy, right? Driving on ice? Oh, that's insane too.
9. Classy cocktails
Staying in on a snowy day is the only sensible thing to do. Even better with a winter drink: boozy hot cocoa; mulled wine; whiskey drinks; and even "Milk Punch."
10. Minneapolis' Murder
Have you witnessed the thousands of crows that roost around Loring Park, Uptown, and South Minneapolis neighborhoods? Click here for a little peak:
Need more reasons to love this season?
Good luck on your journey to love this MN winter!