When I told my family I was moving to Minnesota four years ago, they asked me, “Why? Don’t you know how cold it is there?” They asked me that in August shortly before I had planned to move here for work.
I had been to Minnesota prior to moving but only during the summer. While I had heard winters were brutal, I really didn’t know what was in store. The first time schools closed due to the wind chill, I asked my boss at the time if I was still supposed to report to work. That’s the thing about being a journalist. The colder it gets, the more information reporters need to get to readers about how long the cold will last and if this is the coldest it’s been in years. My car wouldn’t start, so he picked me up and brought me to work. I wrote the first of many weather stories that day.
When I tell people I’m from Ohio, they say, “Oh, it gets cold there, too, with Lake Erie, right?” Yes, it does. It gets really cold in Cleveland at times. However, when it snows in Cleveland and we hit below-zero temperatures, it doesn’t last for four days as it does here in Minnesota. The cold lingers here and just when you start to thaw, it hits you again – the cold, that is. That has been my observation in the four years I’ve lived here.
After the first snow storm, I called my mother and told her one thing, “Minnesotans are tough.” The colder it gets and the more snow that falls, the more Minnesotans go out. It’s as if it’s raining instead of snowing. They are fearless. Well, after three winters here, I’m becoming a Minnesotan. The fear I once felt about driving in the snow and ice has started to dwindle. Longjohns are a consistent part of my wardrobe between the months of October and March. I have my snow brush and shovel in my car at all times. I keep de-icer in my trunk in case my doors freeze – something that has happened to me on several occasions. Not fun. I keep water and snacks in my car in case I get stuck somewhere without food. I have a flashlight in the glove compartment. It took me awhile to get to this point of winter accommodation, but here I am. I’ve learned it’s all in the preparation.
I knew I was becoming more of a Minnesotan when 11 inches of snow fell, and I only complained once. I used to be so shocked at how awful the winters are here. Now, I might make a comment or two, grab my shovel and go about my day. Yep, Minnesota has become my home – even if it is a tundra-like climate for several months out of the year. The cold is not going to subside just because I want it to. There are people who have lived here all their lives and complain more than I do. There are some who live here and actually like the winters. “Like” is not a word I think I could ever use to describe how I feel about Minnesota winters. I’m still determining what that word is. In the meantime, I’ve learned to prepare for winter early, to gripe less and bundle up. After all, that’s the Minnesota way!