Warmhearted Minnesotans Take the Chill Out of Wintery New Year

My New Year’s resolution: never let the weather get me down. Celebrate each season. Even winter. That said, I struggled to step out the door when staying at the Carlson’s in Golden Valley, Minnesota in early January. My first achievement in 2014, surviving the Deep Freeze.

While visiting my Big Kids, nieces, sister and brother-in-law in the Twin Cities, I experienced those record breaking frigid temperatures that made even European news channel headlines.IMG_4236_copy

My niece, Hannah, told me that it was so cold that if I threw a glass of water outside, it would turn to ice before it hit the ground. Exposed skin would be frost bitten within 5 minutes. Sure enough, when I walked out the door, the cold felt like dry ice peeling the skin off my cheeks. Yet, Karen and I made it around the block on foot during the coldest day of the last decades.

Weather advisory – stay indoors. Even residents accustomed to long, harsh winters headed to the grocery to stock up on staples, just in case. Shops closed early. Sporting events were postponed. My folks in Illinois said even church was cancelled.

Due to extreme cold, the Minnesota governor mandated statewide school closing prolonging the holiday. Karen, a teacher, screamed with joy, « youpie another pajama day. »

We made the most of our moments together. We spent a super special Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field via satellite, enjoying spicy chili, nachos and cheese from the comforts of the Carlson’s living room. My first time tailgating indoors in Siberia!IMG_4342_copy

Like I reminded my sister, who begrudges the long winters, « it’s a healthy cold. » Unlike Switzerland where the mountains lock us in a fog trap of pollution, when I stepped outside the door in Minneapolis-St. Paul, my lungs felt invigorated from the pure air. The dazzling sun, reflecting off snow under cobalt skies, created an extraordinary light.

IMG_4340_copyIt is no surprise that so many Scandinavians settled in Minnesota. Folks up North come from a hardy stock used to harsh elements. Youngsters sledded, teens played ice hockey, couples skated, and « cheerful » ol’ men ice fished. Dick took us for a spin in his jeep on frozen Medicine Lake where we admired elaborate ice shanties and peeked through the lit up windows of the lake front mansions.

While the atmospheric pressures created record-breaking cold temperatures in North America, warm currents blew across Europe. Back home people were out and about in shorts and shirtsleeves enjoying a balmy 50F. Arriving in Geneva airport, felt like landing in Florida.

We never begrudged a minute of our holiday on ice because warmhearted northlanders magically thaw winter souls by welcoming travelers into their homes and hearth with open arms and a joie de vivre. Gotta love Minn-A-so-Ta. You betcha.




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  1. Pat, this takes me right back to my days in Amery, Wisconsin, 90 miles due west of St Paul-Minneapolis.You are right, the air is so fresh and crisp. The winters were frigid but dry and my hardy new friends (mostly of Scandinavian descent) were never deterred from bundling up and going for a walk or skiing. Ice fishing was a big deal.There were all kinds of winter carnivals on the surrounding lakes. And, I recall, with great fondness, how people made it a point to get together at each other’s homes for food and fun in the depth of the worst winters. I chuckle now as I burrow under my afghan in front of the wood stove, content to “nest” until springtime. 🙂 Thanks for the memories!

    • I have never been ice fishing, but it is on my bucket list and I am sure my brother in law would love to take me, but first I have to figure out a way to stay warm while sitting still in subzero temperatures. I still have my grandma’s handmade afghan to keep me warm on our coldest day and fill me with warm, family memories.

  2. Welcome back home, Pat! Minnesota has THE coldest winters ever! I lived there for a few months while my husband worked in Pelican Rapids. Never in my coldest days, have I ever been sooo cold:) It certainly does serve up a different kind of cold factor. Glad you got to see family & friends. Also happy belated 30th marriage anniversary!

    From your Illinois winter weathered friend

  3. Sis,
    2 Pajama days I might add! 🙂 Thanks for reminding me of all the positives of bitter freezing days up north! Having you and Gege made it much more tolerable. Driving on Medicine Lake and walking (or was it scooting) around the block are memories going in my 2014 Blessing Jar. I LOVE you Oooooodles Sis!

    • Thanks for the super warm reception from my golden family in Golden Valley. Miss Kizzie and the rest of her clan! Thanks for always keeping a benevolent eye over our Big Kids.

  4. So that’s where you’ve been, Pat — I missed you! Glad you had such a lovely visit, and made plenty of memories surviving the Polar Vortex! That’s a harsher climate than I like. Perhaps I lived in the deep south long enough for my blood to thin out, making me intolerant of the bitter cold. More likely, it’s just that I prefer summertime activities outside, ha!

    • I also prefer warmer climates, however, that pure, icy arctic air is good lungs and Minneapolis-St.Paul is rated as one of the heathliest placest in the US to live.

  5. Pat, wow, what a time to visit. I visited a cousin in Minnesota one winter and I could barely catch my breath when I stepped outside. But you’re right, the air feels clean and pure.

    • Helene, the air was so cold it was breathtaking, but what amazed me was how people just bundled up more and kept right on going and enjoying outdoor activities. No wonder the Twin Cities is considered one of the fitest places to live in the US.

  6. We’ve been having some record breaking temps here in CT too, but only in the single digits. I can’t begin to image the cold that Minnesota has been experiencing. Like you, I kind of like the crisp coldness. But — enough already! 🙂 Hope things are well with you otherwise Pat. Happy New Year!

  7. Oh shoot, Pat. I wish I’d known you were here. I’m still in Minnesota, just down the road from Medicine Lake. I would have loved the chance to finally meet you. Happy New Year to you and your family.

    • You have got to be kidding. Do you still have a place right down the street from Medicine Lake? My sis, brother in law, nieces and son and daughter all live in the Twin Cities and my sis is right in Golden Valley. I will definitely let you know when I am back in the neighborhood.

  8. What’a that movie with Renee Zellweger when she steps out of the airport with just her NYC coat unbuttoned and she turns right around, breathless? I believe it was filmed in MN. My daughter who lives in Winona, MN calls the state, Minn-a-SNOW-ta!

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