Photo by Bigstock/photoKrat
Minnesota winters were built for hunkering down. We’ve reached the point of no return in our annual deep freeze—staying inside is a cornerstone to survival, pandemic or not. We were going to do that anyway…
It’s always a joy to pull my long-stored parka from the closet and dig through the pockets. A ticket stub, a parking receipt—friendly reminders that I was cooler, just one year ago. The prior winter seems to have so much distance between it and the current cool; my coat hanging static in my closet for so many months, waiting for its turn. With my parka in play, my bicycles have retired to their laundry room lull, where they await the annual late winter tune-up—right around the time my parka gets re-parked in my closet.
Same body, different stuff. That’s the Minnesota way. Growing up, I’d box up my winter clothes each spring, and my dad would banish them to the rafters above the garage. We’d lower our bikes from their winter-storage positions, moving them into spring-readiness mode. Perhaps most importantly, and a neighborhood affair: the trampoline was constructed. Spring had sprung.
My teenage years saw these months as the painful transition from snowboard, back to skateboard. Even if there was still snow, season passes expired at the end of March, so it’s curtains either way. A skateboard plus a broom for clearing sand and slush from treasured skate-spots replaced the winter gear in my trunk. And I waited for the next one.
As I’ve grown, I have lost some of that enthusiasm for northern winters. I no longer ride my bike through the winter months and I haven’t been on a chairlift in years. I no longer have winter or summer clothes, I just have clothes. Whether it’s June or January, I can get to my parka in 46 seconds. My bicycles sleep inside, year-round. But I’m not over it.
If I left the North, I’d miss the calm that winter brings—the insulating quietness that falls with the snow. I’d miss the cozy feeling of a warm car on a subzero day. There’s something oddly satisfying about shoveling, and I’d miss that too. I’d certainly miss the pockets that come with winter: coats, vests, sweaters—roaming repositories of stuff manifesting themselves as a major perk of the cold times.
Mostly, I’d miss how it ends. The magic of a fresh, new spring has never been lost on me. In the North, we’re treated to a full reset; we’re front row to an annual reinvigoration, bringing us out of hibernation. Always a stunner.
As the Western Hemisphere tilts its way toward spring, let us not forget the late blows dealt by winter’s past. Keep the winter tires and the coat for now, don’t let the snow-blower run out of gas just yet. We’ll be sticking to our car seats in no time.