Freeze

Minnesota has frozen.  It’s like the new Disney movie only with no castles, no talking snowmen, and at the end of the day, no amount of love makes the weather get better.  The cold is here, and it’s here to stay.

Yesterday was the first time the temperature was above zero in a week.  The ground is covered in a foot of snow.  When the wind blows, the snow scatters across the road, making driving a near impossibility.  This coming Monday, the governor of the state shut down all the schools because the high for the Twin Cities area is -13 F.  Average temperatures in Western Minnesota (where I go to college) are for around -20 F.  Add in windchill and it’s significantly lower.

Why am I talking about the weather?  Well, that’s what Minnesotans do.  We talk (or, rather, complain) about the weather.  Lately, courtesy of global warming, it’s always doing something strange.  We get fifty degrees in May followed by nineties in September.  We get the longest spring in history, with gorgeous weather starting in March, and the next year winter lasts nearly five months.  You can never seem to win.

When I was in Ireland, during the drive from Dublin to Cork, the tour guide was talking about the weather.  Apparently, obsession with discussing the external conditions is a worldwide thing.  Anyways, he said that he was once in Canada during the winter.  He walked off the airplane and absolutely could not believe how cold it was.  Ungodly, he called it.  He listed off some of the basic conditions he experienced there, then asked us, “How do people survive?”  The others on the bus (a few fellow American students living in Rome, a couple from somewhere in England, and an Australian) shuddered in terror.  I just shrugged because the horrors he described were what I’ve lived through for the past twenty-one winters.

This morning, I was on my way into the local gym and I passed the manager.  She was bundled up like a marshmallow and I could only recognize her through a small slit for her eyes.  The rest of her face was covered in a low hat and tightly wound scarf.  Last night was particularly windy, so she was shoveling away the snow drift that had made its home in front of the doorway.  It looked like she was working hard–she didn’t even need to go inside where the weights and running machines were to get her daily exercise.  As I plodded through the drift to the door, she looked at me and, through all her layers, I could see the exasperation on her face as she asked me a very important question:

“Why do we live here?”

In the moment that followed I had a mental flashback to living in London, where the weather is in the fifties and the only impediment is the occasional rain shower.

I then replied, “I ask myself that every day.”

Once inside, after tugging off my own layers, tying up my gym shoes, and settling my Kindle on the elliptical, I pondered the manager’s question.  And, despite the terrifying cold, the ghastly amounts of snow, treacherous driving conditions, and layers upon layers of dangerous ice everywhere, I knew exactly why we live here.

It’s home.  Deep down, we take pride in living in ungodly conditions.  You could almost say that we love it.  (But, if you ask, we’ll never actually admit it.)

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