No surprise though, since I am a Northern Minnesota resident. The surprising thing is that I have been dealing with it for 20 plus years...since 1991...and I'm still here.
I am NOT a cold weather person. I am always cold, even during warmer weather, so much so that I am counting down the days until menopause so I can finally get some relief with my hot flashes! Growing up, it was always my intention to move further south to escape even the smallest of cold snaps. But as they say, life is what happens while you're still formulating your plans. And just like that, I found myself living within a frozen tundra about 6 to 7 months out of every year.
I originally moved from the East Coast...Maryland to be exact...and I can count on one hand the white winters I actually experienced. During my childhood, most of the time snow and extreme cold were happening in other places.
And then I came to Northern Minnesota.
If you don't live in Northern Minnesota, then know this...the cold is frigid, dangerous and absolute. Just the other night, it was around -25 below with a -30 below wind chill. I've had people ask, "How can a humanoid even survive this kind of Hell-cold?" Well...we don't really have a choice now, do we? We survive out of necessity. Cold for us becomes a challenging game of perception. When we find ourselves up around ten or eleven degrees above the zero mark after below zero wind chills and temps...we celebrate as if we've just witnessed the heralding of Spring. And so what would be considerd freezing, unbearable cold to one person becomes a much anticipated reprieve for another. It's all about your perspective.
When Bemidji temps are at defcon Hell-cold...we simply bundle up, hunker down, and deal. My partner and I live in an Earth home. We heat exclusively with wood, which means we are bringing in multiple loads of cut and split wood on a daily basis. We don't have a choice to say, "Meh...it's cold out, I'm staying in today...". There is wood to be gathered, and a job to do. I'm in radio, and come Hell-cold or high water...I need to get to work. That means if its -20 some below with a -30 to -40 below wind chill, I set my alarm to wake up every two to three hours to start my car, hopefully insuring it will start in the morning for my daily commute to the station in spite of the ridonkulous temps.
(In order to insure our vehicles start, we have things called engine block heaters. It's a way you can plug in your car so it will start in the morning. It's essentially like a small heater for your car's engine, keeping the fuids from freezing. Yes, most of us have plugs sticking out of our front grill, ready to utilize overnight should the Hell-cold become dangerously low.)
I mentioned before that I am still here. I am, I have the goosebumps on my goosebump's goosebumps to prove it. Over the years I had come to think of myself as a winter hater...every year lamenting the fact that I lived in a place where...for 6 to 7 months...the air hurt my face, cracked my skin and burned my lungs.
But now, as I slap on my long johns, my 2 to 3 layers of shirts and sweaters, a pair of heavy duty carhart coveralls, my parka, hat, mittens and scarf...I find I'm not minding this way of life so bad. After all, no one can say I'm not a badass when it comes to dealing with the cold. I have become adaptable and creative when it comes thawing frozen locks, frozen pipes and frozen fingers. I rarely miss work for weather related emergencies and/or disasters. And we keep our place warm with multiple trips outside to the wood pile.
And there's something else. I have come to appreciate the beauty and solace of winter time in Northern Minnesota. It's when the temps fall to dangersouly low Hell-cold numbers that the world becomes stark in it's living, breathing clarity. The atmospere seems to disappear, and the scenary is vivid and bright. The silence is broken only occasionally by a few chickadees, some distant and muted engine sounds, and the cold wind singing it's lonely, drawn out sigh among the swirling eddies of bright white, flashing flakes.
This kind of living isn't for everyone. And I never thought it was for me. But I guess I was wrong. Surprisingly...I can't think of anywhere else I'd really rather be. Now don't get me wrong, I love visiting tropical places and warm climates. But I would miss my changing of the seasons.
The Earth Mother in all her glory provides such beauty among the desloate backdrop of snow and ice, and I would never want to lose that. I love this area. I love the diversity of weather and the changing of the seasons. I love the trees, shrouded in their white raiment, statue still and silent. And I love late nights by the woodstove with my love and our pets, while the wind howls and shrieks outside and the snow grits against the window pane.
So here's to enjoying the cool and wet rebirth of Spring, the warmth and brightness of a georgeous summer landscape, the spicy-sweet nostalgia of a late Autumn evening, and the breath taking, (literally) desolate and frozen beauty of extreme winter days.
Peace, love...and of course LOTS of warmth-