Minnesota Winters:

So there has been a lot of talk recently about Minnesota, its coldness, weather and the like. Turns out a lot of people use this time to express a certain amount of hatred, loathing, or other such negative angst towards this season known as ‘winter’ in the upper midwest.

Today is a day I would like to proclaim my appreciation and love for such a season, time, and climate. I was born in Minnesota, raised in Minnesota, and have rarely traveled far from Minnesota. I can tell you with much reassurance that this is my home state of choice, and will be for the foreseeable future. Why can I say this with such assurance? Especially with such experience in dealing with these events every 8 or so months?? It has to do with how this season makes you feel.

“Makes you feel?”, You would respond with much astonishment in your voice! Winter makes you feel depressed, cooped up, deserted, vulnerable, and above all: cold. How can you say that the ‘feel’ing is any good at all? Well… let me explain.

Have you ever walked outside in the winter? Have you ever woken up to a cold morning and had a hot cup of coffee/cocoa? Have you ever seen fog settle on tree branches as frost instead of dew? Have you ever stepped outside and took in the biggest breath of fresh cold air? Have you recently reached then end of the day and thought to yourself “I accomplished so much today.”, or at least “I survived so much today.” Most of these (especially if you don’t live in a northern state) would be answered with a “No.” These are the reason why I live for Minnesota winters.

I say all of these things as if I don’t want for a summer. But I do… oh, I do. One more part of the beauty for seasonal change is, well, the seasons. I would give almost anything to sit at one of the county parks, at one of the small dams, on one of the small rivers, watching a small waterfall pour over the moss and algae covered concrete. Ripples on a pond?, I want that. I want spring, I want summer. But I still want winter as well. Let these things come in stages and the reward is more bountiful. Would you open up a birthday present before it was your birthday? Maybe.., but then when your birthday did come around, I can almost guarantee that you will feel less satisfied than if you had just waited on opening that present. Which is what we are all doing now, waiting for warmer weather. But, while I wait, I live.

Today was one of “them days.” Most of the time this statement is said to mean that it has been rough, hard, full, and stressful. To which this day has, hence the label. But above that it has been rewarding, promising, exciting, and fulfilling. I would say this has been one of the best days I have had this winter. What did I do with my day to have it earn such a respected title? Let me walk you through my steps, and you can see how my day has been!

Snow began falling the night before. It was predicted, it was heavy, this was true. So by morning there were several inches of snow on the ground. Roofs, roads, and horses that didn’t move much were buried in these inches; there was no surprise there. Also to no surprise was the snow drift in front of my garage door. It [said garage door] happens to be conveniently placed directly across from a 100 acre field. This field feeds the wind with a nearly unlimited amount of snow, to which can be gracefully placed in front of my white panel, power-lifted, garage door. It is a beautiful scene, if you would only take my word for it.

I wake up in the morning. This in itself is a mental battle with my active mind telling my sleeping mind that I need to wake up because of the necessary things to be done on days that public schools would deemed be closed. This carries on (at 6:30 a.m.) for a good 45 minutes of back and fourth bargaining, pleading, alarm snoozing, and dealing, before the active mind convinces the sleeping mind that a hot shower would feel much better than the “only moderately warm” bed. To which the sleeping mind obliges and the day ensues.

Soon after it turns to a rushing game of “gather the gadgets, and get in the car!”. This is a fun game, much similar to an Easter egg hunt than anything else. With phone, laptop, headphones, etc in-hand I load up. Opening the garage door, I quickly decide that today would be a good day to bring a shovel (or two, or maybe even three) with me in my car to work.  I go to the shed quick, or as quick as one can with a cumulative of 12 inches of snow on the lawn and in front of said shed door, and grab an array of excavating devices to aide my journey. Mind you this action is not much different than a warrior suiting up for battle, or even a marine arming up for <fill_in_the_blank> FPS console game. With weapons/tools in the trunk I decide to go with the fast-and-furious method or escape. I will floor-it, and only then if I get stuck escaping my driveway will I be forced to shovel my way out.

In my car, garage door open, engine running (I give the gas peddle a pump or two for exhaust and ‘rev-ing’ effect) I shove the transmission shift from ‘P’ to ‘R’ and give-‘er-hell! My car, with its everything-stock options and moderately new-treaded tires rips through this light fluffy snow like no tomorrow! Drift or no drift I act like there wasn’t even snow on the radar the night before! Only after a few back-and-fourth, not-so-almost-maybe-shit-oh-okay-not stuck moments I am finally free from my driveway and on to level two!.. The unplowed road. (no use of selected weapons yet, sadness)

I happen to live in a small town called Stacy. This small town, and many others, happen to all follow an unwritten policy. Nobody told me of this policy, I discovered it by myself and my theoretically-clever ways. Here is the policy: roads are plowed and prioritized according to distance from the from the freeway (in miles). This formula can be applied to hours/minutes before your street will get plowed, down to the drop-off distance where you can give up hope and begin crying that nobody will ever find you buried in this white fluff. The drop off point happens to be roughly 6.2631 miles from the freeway (in case you were wondering). Which means, my road is never, ever, even slightly, don’t even think of it, plowed. It’s no big deal though, I only have to travel this road for about 6 of the 12 miles until I reach the freeway.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking: “6 miles isn’t that bad, suck it up pussy!”. To which I respond: “You try it!.. and where is my mom?”. I felt more like I was snowmobiling with a boat… which, isn’t far from the truth. With much drifting, windshield whipping, and squinted eyes, I made it to an established (plowed) road. Advance to level three.

Freeways are the most maintained of all roads. Many plow trucks never see any other road. This is because the economic value of such roads measures in the millions (if not billions) of US dollars per day. These roads are tier-1, so why would it be level 3? It should be smooth as butter from now on! Oh, and that it was! The only catch is that butter doesn’t cause ones car to handle well at any amount of speed, period. It wasn’t until this false sense of security set in that I was tricked by the slight of hand.

Let me paint this scene: Snow, blowing. Cars, driving. Roads, black. The snow was plowed, but the ice is where you will be caught. Merging traffic plus deceitfully appearing roads means: PROFIT… well, if you happen to be either evil, a tow-truck company, or both. Story be told, I ended up in the ditch. 35W headed South is where the party was at. I was one of 6 vehicles claimed by this 1/5th mile stretch of road. I joined 2 cars already in the ditch. Tow truck and state patrol on the scene. Only to be greeted by an SUV rear-ending a semi, and a pickup truck ditching right across from myself. It took a total of 3 D.O.T. plow trucks, 3 tow trucks (from two different companies), 2 state patrols, and one ambulance to finally subdue the situation. None of the agencies involved would be deemed ‘evil’ by the way, all were wonderful and greatly appreciated.

IMAG0381

My car pictured (among others) above.

http://www.kare11.com/news/article/1014446/391/Brutal-commute-follows-overnight-snow?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Cbc%7Clarge

After being rescued from the ditch, which is equivalent to hitting ‘try again, reset’ on a failed level selection screen. I assumed my journey to work. Arriving only 12 minutes late to my first scheduled meeting, and hardly even, because the meeting itself started late.

The rest of the day continued as any other. I greeted the end-of-day with additional snow shoveling and arrival of home destination (safely this time). But through all of this, and I mean ALL of this, I have had the longest yet most rewarding day this winter. I appreciate the chances in life where I am blessed with the opportunity to tell a story. And this is a damn good one! I regret no decision, action, or event from this day. And even though it be costly, I am comfortable accepting the hazards of living in such hostile environments. I happen to be a Minnesotan, and I happen to survive.