The calm before next week’s storm: Diane Dettmann on February 27, properly layered up.
AFTON, MINNESOTA, FEB. 27    I’ve lived in Minnesota my whole life and survived many winters—some of which I actually enjoyed. [See "Icicles in Their Hair," Diane's tale of childhood Christmases in Embarrass, Minnesota, "The Cold Spot of the Nation."]  This year the polar vortex rolled over the state and we’re experiencing one of the coldest, most brutal winters on record. No matter where you go—Fleet Farm, the local grocery store, or church—this winter’s weather is the main topic of conversation.
So far this winter, we’ve had 57 inches of snow (the usual: 40). Last night, wrapped in a blanket, I sat in my favorite chair listening to the 40-mile-per-hour wind gusts roaring past the window, wondering, “Why in the world do I live in this frigid state?”
I guess that over the years, like an animal hibernating in the winter, many Minnesotans, including me, have devised creative ways of coping with the bitter wind-chills and sub-zero temperatures. In case you’re planning a trip to Minnesota any time soon—or, heaven forbid, planning to move here—the following list might change your mind.
Strategies for Enduring a Minnesota Winter
  • In Minnesota, winter fashion is all about layers—lots of them. You’ll know you have enough on when it hurts to bend over and pull on your boots.
  • Speaking of boots, remember those chains drivers used to put on their tires in the winter? Well, good news! You can actually buy them for your boots! On my daily winter walks I seldom leave home without them.
  • Schedule your meals around traffic reports and weather updates, so you know how early to leave for work in the morning or cut out in the evening to avoid the pileups on the freeways. Always have at least two alternate routes as backup.
  • When the wind chill drops below zero, make sure you cover your face to prevent frostbite. Bundle up, even if you have to wrap your 5-year-old’s Shrek scarf around your face. Who knows, you might even start a new winter fashion fad.
  • Looking for adventure? Ice fishing might be just the sport for you. You get a pretty darn good workout, chopping that hole in the ice, and who knows? You might even catch a fish before your toes turn numb.
  • When the sub-zero temperatures and bitter wind chills keep you homebound, relax, knowing that  you have the whole day to drink coffee, read the paper, and work your crossword puzzles. Well, this might not be the case if your kids are cheering in the morning as the SCHOOL CLOSED announcements flash across the TV screen.
  • Invest in a high-powered electric blanket. Before retiring, crank the dial to “high.” Wait two hours. Pull on your flannel pajamas and socks. Crawl under the covers. Snuggling and hot sex optional, but highly recommended
  • If all else fails, head to the Mall of America, turn the kids loose at the indoor amusement park, and shop the day away. Better yet, book a flight and head for a warmer climate. Even a long-weekend away  from the Minnesota deep freeze helps.
 The local weather reporter is predicting sub-zero lows for the next two weeks. My husband and I count our blessing every day that we’re retired and can stay tucked inside our warm house until the spring thaw. We’re hoping it’ll arrive before August!