OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 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! .

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  • Diane Dettmann March 12, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    Toni, This was a very tough winter for Minnesotans, including me. Three generations of my family have lived in Minnesota. My grandparents came from Finland in the early 1900s and eventually settled in Embarrass, Minnesota, often named the coldest place in the U.S. I attribute my Finnish “sisu”-determination and perseverance- for my ability to survive and even enjoy these rugged winters. Today, I did my daily 2 mile walk/run for the first time without the chains on my tennis shoes! I think spring’s on its way. 🙂 We’re already researching warm weather escapes for next year! Let’s hope next year the winter’s better in Seattle and Minnesota!

  • Toni Myers March 12, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Diane, I get a chill reading this! Though Seattle is never so cold, this winter was colder than usual and dry. I had dreams of spending a month or two in a warmer clime. You Minnesotans are made of tough stuff!

  • Diane Dettmann March 8, 2014 at 8:04 am

    Sounds like a wonderful plan, Linda! We are seriously thinking, if this year is any indication of future winters in Minnesota, we might high tail it to somewhere warm next year. Today we’re headed for 30 above zero, a heat wave. Enjoy that Tucson warm weather.

  • Linda Paulson March 7, 2014 at 11:29 pm

    Diane, We ran away from home! Yes, we bailed on our fellow Minnesotans. We drove down to Tucson, AZ and arrived here last Tuesday just barely missing the Titan storm. I knew you would want to know Rog, me and our two Golden Retrievers arrived safe. We are planning on sitting out the cold weather until the first of April, or when you give us the “all is clear” signal so we dare return. We acclimated to the 80 degree weather immediately. Trak and Dakota want to know how to shed their fur coats as they don’t need them here, and they really miss the snow. But since their vote doesn’t count on this matter, we are staying put for a month.

  • Diane Dettmann March 6, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Tuomas, I’ve heard that this winter’s been very mild in Finland. The past few winters in Minnesota had warmer temperatures and less snow, which made it easier to get out and enjoy the season. This year we’ve had 49 days of subzero temperatures and many days of double digit below zero wind chills that made even a Finlander like me stay inside. 🙁 I love walking and getting out in the brisk winter air and find it very invigoration. If next winter’s as brutal as this year, maybe I’ll move to Finland! Kiitos for leaving your wonderful comment!

  • Tuomas Räsänen March 6, 2014 at 5:05 am

    Diane, I would love your weather (except 40-mile-per-hour wind). It’s been quite the opposite here in Southern Finland. February is normally the coldest month. This year the temperature has continually been above zero. There’s nothing to do outside. No skiing, because there’s no snow; skating can be done only inside; no ice-fishing, because sea ice is too thin. It’s been hardest for children, who cannot even do sledding. Everyone is wondering, most complaining, this unwinter. I’ll move to Lapland, or Minnesota, if this trend continues next year!

  • Diane Dettmann March 1, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Leslie, I’m sure your golden retriever would enjoy playing with you in the snow here. You just have to be careful not to fall down. I tried making a snow angel one day, had so many layers on I could barely get up!

    Southern Oregon sounds wonderful, I spent time with my aunt and uncle in Oregon years ago. We went deep sea fishing off the coast. Loved it. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Leslie in Portland, Oregon March 1, 2014 at 12:51 am

    My golden retriever would love your weather, if I could bundle up enough to go out and play with him in it!

    If you want to avoid snow and temps below freezing next winter, come to the southern Oregon coast for the winter. It’s a little-known bastion of temperate weather (and many retirees)…and you get to enjoy the ocean!

  • Diane Dettmann February 28, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    You’re so welcome, Fiona! I guess weather’s all relative. Excited that it was 4 above zero this morning, I bundled up in my layers and did a mile walk just to get out. Now it’s snowing again. Can’t win. Thanks for sharing your insights!

  • Fiona February 28, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    From this moment, I promise to stop complaining about the ghastly weather in Manhattan this winter. Thank you for the perspective!

  • Diane Dettmann February 28, 2014 at 10:45 am

    I hear you, Sally, loud and clear! I’m freezing all the time even with multiple layers top and bottom and the thermostat cranked up to 70+. Usually I’m able to get out and walk everyday in the winter if I wear my chains. This year I’ve missed more days than ever. With double digit windchills it’s just too cold! Sending warm thoughts your way.

  • Sally Bahner February 28, 2014 at 10:39 am

    Here in Connecticut, we’ve also has 50+ inches of snow. I’ve been living in the same 4 or 5 sweaters, a great pair of jeans, and boots. I work with one eye out the window, like many people.
    A thousand times — like every night — I thanks the goddesses for my electric blanket. Other than my car with the heat blasting, it’s the only time I’m warm!