Wednesday, February 01, 2012


Five great things about winter

It's actually an odd winter here in Minnesota-- it has been oddly warm and there is not so much snow. Still, compared to Waco, it is an amazing thing to have this season settle in. I always loved the change of seasons, and as a kid there were some things about a Michigan winter that I dearly loved. Here are five of my favorites:

1) The quiet

Snow hushes everything; it's nature's librarian. There is something thrilling about walking alone or with a companion in the snow, the only sound being that little crunch of your own steps. In the morning, there is a certain stillness that is too rare in our lives.

2) The sports

Can I say this? I love all this ice and snow because it is so much fun. I love skating and pond hockey, I love nordic skiing, and I love downhill skiing. Within ten minutes of my house there are endless opportunities for cross-country skiing, a downhill area, a friggin' ski jump, and Edina's many little rinks, each with it's own warming hut.

3) The early evenings

It gets dark about 5:30 these days, and that is a form of permission to settle in and relax. Light a fire, read a book, linger over dinner... it's a very human pace.

4) The food

It's comfort food time-- casseroles, pasta, stuff with bacon... how can you not like that?

5) The holidays

Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's Day... these are days for celebration, feasting, and love. Spring and summer have holidays of war and death, but in the winter the light comes from within. How can you not love that?

And of course this is the season, along with my beloved pond hockey, of “skitching” … as we called it … slapping on a pair of slick, leathered soled penny loafers and skiing behind an old VW bug on snow covered back roads while being dragged by a water skiing tow rope attached to the back bumper, as only performed by highly trained professionals (16-18 yo males without a brain).
I'm with you, Mark. Been in the Deep South now for decades and have never gotten used to it being in the 90s and 100s from April to October (much less the 80s in January). We lived in Spokane, Wash. as kids and loved it. Our vacations are in Canada, not the Caribbean. Heat is relentless; it saps you as you dash from air conditioned car to house to work and back. Cold invigorates me. And everything you mentioned is true. I'm guessing we're in the minority on this. There have been some interesting studies about the number of days folks who live up north spend outside vs. the number of days folks down south spend outside. The results will surprise you. (Also, I love them comforting winter veggies -- rutabaga, parsnips, and the like -- and stews and soups and curries.)
I so agree! That's why my husband and I are in Estes Park, Colorado this week, enjoying all of what you describe.

Off to snowshoe!

You should consider adding bacon to your year-round diet. Bacon truly is the ethereal evergreen of the food universe.
i second that emotion, mark.
everything you said is true. the only thing better about my recollections is that they were wisconsin winters and not michigan, minnesota or illinois (hiss) winters.
i kid, of course. sorta.
but it's true, it seems the blanket of snow and its insulating properties really makes things quiet and peaceful. and the other things you mentioned-- pond hockey (or flooded and iced-over parking lot hockey), skiing, sledding, the skitching mentioned by CraigA, etc, etc-- are all great ways to enjoy the winter.
i fondly recall sitting on a curved, hard plastic seat (turned backwards), being pulled behind our three-wheeler by a ski rope. i first learned what the word "widow" meant when my older brother dubbed a particularly dangerous turn on the course we created in our yard "the widowmaker." needless to say, there was a huge boulder flanked by monstrous tree trunks and if you didn't properly negotiate the turn on the "sled" behind the three-wheeler, you were in a world of hurt.
and bob, you're absolutely correct about the cold being "invigorating."
that is the exact word i frequently use to describe it, and it's really true.
you can always put on an extra sweater or jacket, but there's only so much you can take off.
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