I’ve lived in Minnesota for just about four years now, and even in that short amount of time I’ve experienced some serious winter weather. Sub-zero temperatures, snow storms, ice… its fucking cold. Did you know people in Minnesota have to rake their roof or else risk something called ice dams??? I didn’t believe it either, but I am now the proud owner of the best roof rake money can buy after our living room ceiling started leaking two days after bringing our newborn baby home. You can bet my raging post-natal hormones handled that situation extremely well.
The only thing that saves my sanity in those long, dark winter months is that most days, the sun is shining. Sometimes, looking out the window, it almost seems as if you could step outside without a coat. But the blast of arctic air that immediately punches you in the face snaps you right out of that delusion.
I am usually able to keep my spirits relatively high until early March. At that point, my brain is saying “Spring!” but my face is saying WHAT THE FUCK. There isn’t even a hint of warm weather at that point. The 60 tulips bulbs I planted when we first moved, of which 3 have survived the northern squirrels (I’ve actually watched them dig up and eat the bulbs - they look me right in the eyes and slowly chew) are months away from blooming. I remember one July, I still had tulips that had not withered away. It was DEEPLY disturbing.
As a slightly less northern native, I’ve figured out a few tricks and tips to surviving the deep freeze without going all REDRUM on anyone:
BUY A FUGLY COAT
Seriously, the uglier the warmer, IMO. I currently rock an old lady coat from Patagonia that is basically a sleeping bag with sleeves. It goes down past my boots to provide full leg coverage (which allows me to continue wearing leggings as pants even when its 20 below). I’m always grateful for it when I open my car door and a bucket of snow drops onto the front seat. I just sit on that shit like its nothing and my ass stays toasty warm. Its also essential for carrying kids around with muddy, ice caked boots dangling against your thighs.
GET A LITTLE FAT
Maybe its the breast feeding hormones, but I’m 20 pounds heavier than my first winter in Minnesota and I’m finally toasty warm. No more walking around the house wrapped in a blanket clutching a hot beverage for dear life. I keep the house at 65 degrees and sometimes I get so sweaty I feel like I live in a tropical rain forest. The arms of my sleeping bag coat are pretty snug but how often do I really need to lift my hands over my head? Almost never. Pass me another serving of that hot dish, please.
BECOME A PACK HORSE
Whenever I leave the house, I’m lugging at least two children (one in a carseat), an oddly heavy backpack, a lunch bag and a baby carrier strapped to my waist. Not to mention loading and unloading the double stroller multiple times a day. By the time I have everything loaded, everyone dressed head to toe in warm clothing, then undressed and strapped safely in their carseats, I am wheezing and perspiring like its August. For some reason this doesn’t cause me to lose any weight, but it sure makes the Minnesota winter feel more like a chilly fall afternoon.
At some point, you just get sick of coats and boots and gloves and hats and raking the roof. Thats when its time to cash in those frequent flyer miles and overstay your welcome with friends or relatives who live in warmer climates. My MIL lives in North Carolina, and we try to visit her in the early spring and stay for an unreasonably long time. Its a nice break and it reminds the children what the color green looks like.
When I tell people we moved to Minnesota, and actually like it here, there are definitely those who are horrified. And if you REALLY hate winter, then this state is probably not for you. Even I sometimes wonder about the wisdom of human beings living this far North.
But one thing I’ve noticed is that people around here fully enjoy the summer. Everyone leaves work early and spends most weekends at their cabin up North (my main goal in life is to befriend a family with a really nice cabin that we will be invited to on a regular basis… hint hint wink wink). The sidewalks and parks are packed with families enjoying the mild summer evenings. I haven’t even discovered all the lakes and free beaches in the area. Every weekend there are countless festivals or events to explore.
So while I am sure in a few months I’ll find myself curled in the fetal position, hallucinating about the warm sun on my skin, for now I’m just looking forward to joining my neighbors outside after the first thaw.