Trouble Spot #3: The winters here are REALLY COLD and REALLY LONG…and did I mention COLD and LOOOOOOONNNNGGG?
You had to know it was coming. What’s a discussion about Minnesota without a discussion about the weather? My other two posts about the culture and social climate here in Minnesota could be considered more subjective. People could say that it is particular to my experience, my suburb, my personality. But when we talk about the winter, there is just no relative notion to it. The facts of the matter, without injecting my opinion, are that the winters here are REALLY cold. Now, when I say cold, I am not just talking about normal cold, like it gets into the teens and there is something to talk about cold. Oh no. I am talking about bone-chilling, booger-freezing, feels-like-your-exposed-flesh-is-being-stabbed-with-knives kind of cold. And the winters are LOOOOOONG. There is no equally dividing twelve months into four seasons here in Minnesota. I don’t care about the solstices and equinoxes. Those DO NOT APPLY here. Winter lasts at least November to April, sometimes October to May, and anyone who tells you differently is delusional and is trying to convince themselves, as well as you, of a LIE.
At first, when we decided we were making the move to MN, we’d joke about the weather. “Oh, it’s gonna be cold,” we’d say and follow it with lighthearted giggling. WE HAD NO IDEA. I often ask myself why under the sun did I not ask someone about the weather before we moved here? Why didn’t I talk with some of the locals we met on our house-hunting trip and ask them to tell me about it? Well, it’s better I didn’t. Because there is a bit of propaganda that Minnesotans spew in an effort to convince themselves and you that the winter here is really not that bad. They’ll tell you, “But it only gets THAT cold for two weeks in January.” Really, that’s great. So, only for two weeks in January I risk freezing my exposed flesh in 10 to twelve minutes? It’s only for two weeks that I have to worry about properly dressing for a walk to the mailbox because if I go and slip and can’t get back into my house I could DIE? Oh, that’s not so bad.
Or, they will say, “But we have such great summers.” Sure you do, if summer ever arrives. In the years that it gets here, it arrives in July and leaves Sept 1 like clockwork. I have had at least one summer of the 3 that I have spent here where every time we planned to go to the lake, it was too cold. My daughter Piper turned 4 that year and if you look at the pictures of us from that day we are wearing SWEATERS in JULY. And really, summer should last at least from June til September, yet another denial of the equinoxes and solstices.
And my favorite winter lie- “Winter isn’t that bad if you embrace it and do winter stuff.” Here’s the truth folks: Winter is STILL THAT BAD. Just because I get out and ice skate or sled doesn’t make the winter any less bad. It doesn’t make it warmer or less snowy. It may improve my experience of it for a brief and fleeting moment, but the fact is that winter will still be brutally cold and horrendously long and any amount of cross country skiing or snow shoeing won’t change that. The ONLY reason I ice skate or sled is because I can’t do the things I’d rather be doing if it weren’t winter!
Now, I know there are people who love winter. They wait the long months of spring and “summer” for that first snowfall in October. And for them, this IS THE PLACE. They have arrived. But this was our epiphany experience after traveling to Texas in December. WE HATE WINTER. HAAAAAAATTTTTTTEEEEEEEEEE winter. Why on earth do we live in Minnesota? As we made the long drive back, we felt the ceiling closing in on us. Traveling north and seeing the snow pack gradually appear, we felt our freedom being slowly robbed from us. Freedom from coats and boots and gloves. Freedom from daily snow shovelling of the sidewalk and the driveway and the ROOF. The freedom to just go outside without any preparation or special gear and sit on the deck and grill without freezing. The freedom to garden and run on GRASS, to play ladderball and baseball, and to go on family bike rides. And yes, while much of the country has experienced a bit more winter in the last month than they are used to, we have been dealing with it since November. And while our friends in other states will for years talk about that really snowy winter they had in 2010-2011, for us here in Minnesota, this is just how it is. There is no hope that next year won’t be as bad. THIS IS WINTER in Minnesota. GOOD GRIEF-why didn’t I GOOGLE IT?????????????