Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ice Cold

This week here in Minneapolis (yes, I'm STILL here) the temperature has descended to -17 F. (-23C)  with windchills somewhere near -30 (-34C). I'd like to puff up my buffalo plaid bound chest, hook my thumbs under my red suspenders and boast that as a born and bred Minnesotan, this insanity doesn't affect me. You know, "awwwh, this is nothin'. You should a been here in '68. Now that was cold".

The fact is, it's colder than I can imagine anymore and I often wonder how people here can stand it.  Especially when it continues for months on end. But I have to hand it to these people, they seem to find ways to enjoy this nasty, bitter, mind-numbing cold. In fact, many would describe it as crisp, refreshing, and mind-numbingly beautiful. It's a cup half full sort of thing. And, I'm serious, they really do take advantage of the season.
Minnesota is a state that boasts 11, 482 lakes (15,291 is the total if you add all the unnamed lakes). That makes for a lot of mosquitos in the summer and a lot of ice in the winter. We are literally surrounded. Even here in the city, there are lakes everywhere. And people use them. There's just nothing more fun than a vast, flat, slippery expanse where the wind blows like a buggar and there is no shelter from its assault. Doesn't that sound inviting?

Of course people skate and play hockey on the ice. That's just a given.

But there are all sorts of options for moving along the ice. You can two wheel across it 

or choose the 4 wheel version if you prefer.

Three wheels work too when it's time to freeze the babies to sleep. 

Snow Kiting gets you across with only one "wheel" and it looks like way too much fun.
I am going to do this one of these days...really!

A lake full of unending, frozen water makes for a great midnight walk under a full moon. The noises  emanating from the shifting ice sound like the underwater cry of whales. It's both creepy and cool. While you're there, a little body curling is an option. If you don't know what curling is, you're obviously not from around these parts. Body curling is my family's version of this time-honored, northern game.

 My mom resting after joining us in aforementioned sport. Who body curls at 75 anyway?

Midnight ice art is also amusing.

Afterwards, at about 1 am, you can build a fire and enjoy a cold beverage next to the eerily beautiful field of frozen water. 

Ice fishing is a favorite pastime.
 I have said I'd never do it. I was wrong, as I am about most things I've said I'd never do.

And some nuts even work on it.
 My sister, the firefighter, doing ice rescue maneuvers. Because not all Minnesotans are smart enough to know when the ice is too thin to be enjoyed.

And then there's just the sheer beauty of it all. 

The end of the day at the fishing shack. Sort of reminds me of the movie Grumpy Old Men.

Of course, it's not always below zero here. Yesterday it got to 10 degrees and my sister and I were remarking how warm it felt. Considering it was 20 degrees warmer than the day before, relatively speaking, it was warm! And this weekend it should get to 30 degrees. I heard the guy on the radio describe the coming warm front as "spring break"! 

Minnesota is not the south of France but it certainly has it's own delights. I've got another project I'm working on here and must stay until the end of February. It will still be winter here at that point. But I'll get to return to Aix en Provence, just as the almond trees are beginning their bloom. And next year, the family has decided to spend Christmas in Jamaica. I'm game. I don't know how we'll manage to have any fun with no ice and all, but we'll manage.

Warm thoughts to all,



  1. My co-workers have all been telling me about those cold temps...I love our home state, but I have to admit I am not really looking forward to touching down in a few days!

    (Though nothing can beat the cold spell of '96, when it was -80°F with the wind chill in Northern MN & Jesse Ventura issued a state-wide emergency closing all schools & businesses.) :)

  2. I'd heard about fishing shacks disappearing when it turned warmer...complete with boozed up fishermen...

  3. It's certainly very beautiful - love the pink sky pic, but waaaay too cold for me.

    The toddler in the pushchair doesn't even have a hat on!!

    They breed 'em tough in Minnesota obviously!

  4. It looks like you're having fun,'re crazy! Why not visit Minnesota in the summer? Unless you're building igloos, get home to Provence. Plus, where's Arthur? Did you take him to Minnesota too or did he get to stay in the warmer weather.

  5. I'm enjoying the freeze in the Midwest, too. :)

  6. Beautiful photos! Stay warm!

  7. Delana...I LOVE this post. Reminds me so much of home. Even though I was raised in Illinois, these photos look so much like my family's summer cabin in Wisconsin which I call home. Now my sister and her family and my son and daughter live in Minneapolis area. Minnesota is cold and beautiful and no surprise that so many Scandinavians settled there. I have never ice fished, but it is one of my big goals in life. ha

  8. Yikes! You need some serious sports just to keep warm in those temps. At least you still a wine glass in hand so it can't be too bad!


Talk to me!