Unrelenting cold has consumed northwestern Minnesota this winter, almost like in the old days. While twenty and thirty below used to be the norm, or at least that’s how it seemed, temperatures consistently hitting well below zero have been an oddity in recent years. And, even though it’s always been much colder here, frigid temperatures were more common further south, too. We got married twenty two years agoin Minneapolis. It was the end of December and it was thirty below. Friends and relatives who attended the wedding have since told me how funny they thought I looked heading to the reception in my wedding dress, snow boots and a parka. I don’t remember my outdoor attire, but it doesn’t surprise me. What else can you wear in weather like that?
I recall the deep freeze lasting much longer, too. I think back to the years that I commuted to grad school in Winnipeg or later to Minneapolis every week. I covered many miles in hazardous driving conditions and bitterly cold temps. I plugged my car in during the day and through the night. Every year our drive to Iowa for Thanksgiving involved white outs, ice or raging winds somewhere along the way. It’s been years since that’s happened. There’s been a subtle shift that I hadn’t noticed until now and it’s concerning. Winter is still cold, don’t get me wrong, but it’s been significantly less extreme. Yet, I hear many complaints this year. People can’t take any more cold. Enough already, they say. They’ve forgotten what Minnesota winters are supposed to be.
I’m not thrilled with the penetrating, stark winters that have defined this boreal land. I don’t care for sub zero temps and I complain as much as anyone else. Let me be clear, I can’t wait for spring to arrive. Yet, I have to admit that I find the return of the glacial climate oddly reassuring. Warm winters might be more agreeable, but they just don’t feel right.