by Lisa Kaczke
Sun CURRENT Newspapers
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when I decided that I was over this winter.
Maybe it was when I was sitting in my car outside in the alley at home thinking “c’mon, c’mon, c’mon, start!” when it was minus 20 degrees outside. Leave it to a polar vortex to help me conquer my fear of buying a space heater for my apartment caused by covering too many house fires in my career.
It could have been when I was walking several blocks to my car in St. Paul and the cold caused my eyes to water and my tears froze onto my face and eyelashes. I can be a hearty Minnesotan with the best of them, but even for me, that pushed me over the edge.
Or it might have been when I was sitting at a complete stop for a while on southbound France Avenue on the snowy morning commute last week, realizing that I should have worked from home for the morning instead of spending an hour driving to the office. At the end of my commute that morning, I passed the bicyclist I normally see commuting on Valley View Road and, in typical Minnesota fashion, thought about how my commute could be worse.
Then we had that Sunday when it was windy, like a tornado without the tornado. I was driving home along the east side of Lake Calhoun and found myself in a complete whiteout because of the wind coming off the lake. I couldn’t see the cars in front of me, behind me or coming from the other direction, nor could I see the road, the stop signs and traffic light.
Or it could be the roller coaster of temperatures for the past month. It’s 30 degrees! Now it’s minus 20! It’s above zero! Now minus 10! It’s 27 degrees, it feels like summer! Of course, I’ve seen people out at Lake Calhoun in both extremes, although only on the warmer days have there been people out running in shorts and T-shirts.
We had a winter like this when I lived in International Falls. It seemed like it was snowing every other day – in fact, the city broke a record for snowfall that winter. Cabin fever was worse than ever by the time we were getting to the end of February. We were struggling to find a front page photo one day that February and a reporter threw out the suggestion of a summer photo. It may sound weird, she said, but I have these photos I took out on Rainy Lake last August that we never ran in the paper. We decided to do it, knowing that people were either going to love it or they were going to think we had all finally lost our minds. We ran a huge photo across the top of the front page of a deep blue lake with the green forest of Voyageurs National Park along its shores with a cloudless sky. The photo’s caption read, “Remember this? This is why we live here.” People loved it.
I thought about that photo as I was brushing six inches of snow off my car only to have the wind blow the snow back into my face last week. I was grumbling, “Why do I live here? Why is this my life? Why am I not living in California or Hawaii or Aruba?” As I drove along Lake Calhoun on my way to work, I thought, “That’s why I live here.” It looks gray and bleak now, but in a few months, we’ll all be outside enjoying spring, then summer and fall in all the natural amenities the state offers us.
The bad winters make the summers so much sweeter, giving us an appreciation that just can’t be found in many other places. I like that about Minnesota.
Contact Lisa Kaczke at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on Twitter @EdinaSunCurrent