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,


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

France Factor

They say the best way to kill a blog is to stop posting for awhile. I do this frequently. I'm truly surprised this puppy is not dead in the water and my New Year's resolution is to try to post more regularly while I'm traveling. And to get rid of belly fat.

However, my blog is supposed to be about my life in France. The ups and downs of my daily, normal life wouldn't be very interesting without the France Factor. I mean, writing about belly fat would just be a bummer unless it's been directly caused by an overabundance of French cheese and wine. The subject of shedding it is equally stale unless I'm consistently tempted by said items.  And how do I write about France when I've been spending so much time in the United States lately?

So today, my France Factor is the book giveaway from my last post. Yes folks, we have a winner of Paulita Kincer's new book, The Summer of France. As usual, it was a secure drawing done with the utmost professionalism. . . .scraps of paper in a bowl on the patio.

And was overseen by the keen eye of Nelsen, my former canine whom I abandoned to my son when I moved to France four years ago (obviously he's still really troubled by my rejection).

The winner of Paulita's book is Jacqui from The French Village Diaries. Congratulations Jacqui. I know it was supposed to be a Christmas present but you'll now have to consider it your first read of the New Year. And those of you who didn't win it, thank you for reading and entering. Now, buy it!

 I WILL write next week when I get back to Minnesota (I'm currently freezing my plump, after-Christmas-butt off in Mesa, Arizona where I'm visiting my son). After all, I only have two New Year's resolutions and this seems to be the easiest to accomplish. That belly fat issue is going to take some real work!

I wish all of you a New Year full of contentment, prosperity, love and rockin' attitude!

 See you on the flip side of 2012.