How many winters does it take to become Minnesotan?
I’m not sure I’m totally there yet, but with each passing year, I can sense the shape of my mouth exaggerating the “o” a little bit more.
The pace is slower here, and I suppose it is possible that my change has happened at the rate of a freeze…or a thaw. A microscopic transition that is fascinating on the molecular level, but hardly noticeable to the naked eye. Minnesota forces patience in these changes.
I will never lose my sun-loving, high-peak climbing Colorado self, but I can feel the cells in my body slowing down and adjusting to the climate, the landscape, and the rhythm that is Minnesota.
Here are my Colorado impressions of a Minnesota life:
Two of the seasons are longer here, and they are different. It is not winter, spring, summer and fall… it is freezing, sloppy, sweaty and leaf-littered.
It is taboo to go to a store, grocery or otherwise, without a coupon in hand. I want to wear a button at check-out explaining to the clerks that my Colorado tendencies have not caught up with the Minnesota coupon-clipping expectation.
My first few winters in Minnesota, I was frantic to keep the driveway pavement exposed…an absolute in Colorado. After a more typical snowy winter this year, my shoveling goal is to simply have access to the garage. I don’t even care if I have to put the car in four-wheel drive to get in over the iceroad we’ve got going on on the driveway, just as long as I can get out of the car in a covered place.
A garage fridge may not be an electric fridge at all. Food is kept cold on the porch, the patio or in the garage and necessary winter-survival beverages are kept VERY cold without electricity.
If shoveling time is limited, and you have a backyard ice rink to maintain, you choose shoveling the rink over the driveway because, really, no one comes over to hang out on your driveway.
It’s no longer a big deal to me to see salt-covered coats and cars and mittens. If we’re all wearing the salt from the road, what does it really matter?
Mud rooms, and the rooms immediately adjacent to the mud rooms, are NEVER clean. What is tracked in can be swept fifteen times a day, and on the sixteenth time… the dustpan is still full.
The mailbox is an adventure, and leaning out of my car as it balances precariously on the unshovelable ice hill makes even getting the mail an adventure.
There is no such thing as “too cold to go outside”. People run, skate, ski, jump, bicycle, fish, snowshoe, sled, tube, golf, hike and gather around bonfires in any weather. It is actually a badge of honor to be out in colder weather than your neighbor. A challenge in extreme exposure.
I miss the sun, and there are times I wish the view from an intersection were further than the mound of ice that sits on the corner. I run, like everyone else, from one warm spot to another, shaking off the cold as I walk in the door. But it is in that common struggle that Minnesota gets its nice. It takes work to do things here in the winter…an effort in clothing and in maneuvering and in the smallest things like unpacking the groceries (for which I paid full price) from the car.
By the time slop rolls around, we’ve earned the right to celebrate. We get excited about sun and grass and flowers.
Minnesota is about waiting. Waiting for ice, waiting for sun, waiting for the thaw. That delayed gratification is what being Minnesotan is all about.