CHANGE? Diane Dettmann Responds to Our March Challenge

 12668436285_fff97ed545_z“Minnesota Winter.” Photo by Beyond Neon via Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Diane Dettmann’s reports from Minnesota have given us glimpses of what it’s like to deal with the bracing (to put it mildly) winters in that state. (See, for instance, Icicles in Their Hair: Christmas in Embarrass, Minnesota,”  and Minnesota, Colder Than Antarctica.”  Reading them, we have wondered why she stays. She tells us why in this, her response to our March Challenge.


“As much as my body yearns for a climate change, the wimpy little lamb inside me squeals, “No, no, stay!”

I’m not much of a change person. I thrive on routine and prefer life as it is—or at least, that’s the idea I’ve accepted. Maybe it’s all those years of teaching in the elementary schools. Days came and went and my life seldom deviated from the schedule. Even my childhood unspooled with unwavering routine. Those dish towels my mother embroidered with the days of the week and the task for each day became part of me. Life was pretty darn predictable, and I became very comfortable in that zone.

Despite the frigid winters, I’ve stayed glued to Minnesota, refusing to move to a warmer climate. Which is surprising, because when my parents took my brothers and me on our one and only cross-country trip—to Alhambra, California, to visit my Grandma Ruby—I fell in love with the sunshine, the meals on the patio, and the beaches along the Pacific Ocean. At the age of 8 I was determined to live in California when I grew up. But . . . I was born and raised here.

This winter, every day when I bundle up in several layers of clothes and go for my walk-run, I envision myself sprinting along the beach in shorts soaking up warm rays of sunshine. Sometimes I even close my eyes and picture myself in Cancún with the waves of the Caribbean rolling in along the shore and the sun splashing across my face.

As much as my body yearns for a climate change, the wimpy little lamb inside me squeals, “No, no, stay! You might regret moving!”

Meanwhile the lioness yells, “Get off your ass and do something! Take a leap, move to a warmer climate, you might like it!”

Easy for her to say; she doesn’t have a house filled with stuff to unload. At my age I have a lot of baggage—closets stuffed with embroidered towels, pillowcases, family heirlooms, my Ricky Nelson records, and my doll collection. How could I possibly part with my Revlon doll! Plus moving to a warmer climate would require me to find a new doctor, dentist, and hairstylist, and make new friends. I know: These are pretty lame excuses for putting up with long winters with subzero temperatures and gray skies.

“Excuses, excuses!” my lioness roars.

I agree with her: These are excuses, but moving at this point in my life would be a huge change, a decision that requires a lot of thought. I know the harsh Minnesota winters are here to stay, but I can alter the way I look at them. I’ll embrace the invigorating winter air and appreciate that those frigid temperatures burn more calories. Instead of simply skipping my walk on double-digit-below-zero days, I’ll force myself to jump on the indoor treadmill and lift weights. In the dark evenings of winter, I’ll browse through the tropical travel brochures, and maybe I’ll find the perfect seaside condo to spend a few weeks of winter in next year. Maybe that’ll appease my lioness for a while.

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  • Diane Dettmann March 12, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    I’m with you Linda on a Minnesota spring. After all the snow and cold weather, the crocus and day lilies poking through the ground are an exhilarating sign of spring! Love your “Minnesnowta” thoughts on taking a short break from our winters. 🙂 Thanks for your comment and so happy we’ve been friends since junior high! Hoping for 70s here in Minnesota today.

  • Linda Paulson March 12, 2015 at 11:54 am

    I love living in Minnesnowta. But I love getting out for a while too…presently in Tucson, AZ with warm days in the 80’s and cool nights in the 50’s…I can take this for a while, but when I find myself getting bored with this nirvana I will need to return to Minne for Spring…nothing like Spring in the dessert they say here, but they haven’t really experienced Spring till they see the crocus come up to bloom through the snow. Now that’s Spring!

  • Diane Dettmann March 11, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    hillsmom, tt’s a tough decision. Taxes, politics and climate vary from place to place. Even if I picked a state that was more tax and senior citizen friendly, it would probably change two years after I established residency. Today it’s headed for the 60s with sunshine here, so for now I’m staying put. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • hillsmom March 11, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    I lived in MN years ago. As I recall, winters weren’t so different from Chicago where I grew up. The snow stayed much whiter in MN than in Chicago. Now I live not too far from “our Roz”. My DH recently asked if I would like to retire to FL. No way…I don’t like the climate or the politics. I love New England, especially ME or NH (wherever the taxes are better). I might consider WA or OR, if he really wants a change. So it goes…

  • Diane Dettmann March 11, 2015 at 7:54 am

    Thanks so much, Wendl, for your comment. I’m a third generation Minnesotan. My roots are definitely here. I’ve considered relocating many times over the years, but those roots run deep. Moving made more sense when I was younger. Now staying put in a place where I’m comfortable seems to make more sense. Maybe next year, I will transplant myself to a warmer climate for a few weeks. I’m with you, there’s no place like home.

  • Wendl Kornfeld March 11, 2015 at 6:50 am

    Diane, I think you’re wise to stay true to your roots, I’ve read that so many people regret pulling up stakes because after the novelty wears off, they miss all that is familiar and comfortable, where the memories are as well as the people. There can be a happy solution for when winter doldrums are upon us, though — taking a little vacation–a week or even a couple months, just for the contrast. It’s fun while it lasts then feels so darn wonderful to get back home.

  • Diane Dettmann March 10, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    Toni we’ve had a very cold, low snowfall winter in Minnesota. Other than bundling up in ski clothes to walk a couple miles every day, it’s been pretty easy to navigate streets and highways. Also helps that we’re retired and don’t have to drive into work everyday. Let’s hope summer doesn’t have any surprises up her sleeve!

  • Toni Myers March 10, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    It has been an odd winter. Wonderful for us in Seattle and the entire West coast, though we have no snowpack thus less water in summer. Who knows, maybe our usual lovely summer will be equally weird. A friend who lives in rural Alaska visited us early this year. He feared the bears emerging early and likes to avoid that time. Maybe they come knocking at his door.

  • Diane Dettmann March 10, 2015 at 11:01 am

    Roz, I’ve watch the weather reports of those terrible storms on the east coast and thought about all the people hit by them. Makes our winter in Minnesota this year seem like Southern California. Walked outside yesterday in the sunshine with only a couple of layers and no gloves. Hang in there sister!

  • Roz Warren March 10, 2015 at 9:38 am

    Diane we’re sisters under the skin. I printed your essay out and read it while walking on MY treadmill, with an excellent view of the snow-covered ground on my suburban Philadelphia neighborhood, which is still recovering from our Last Big Storm.

  • Diane Dettmann March 10, 2015 at 9:34 am

    Tony, not sure if I’m brave or just so use to it I’ve found ways to adapt. Staying in Minnesota and a block of time in a warm climate during the winter would be a win-win. Luckily the highs here today are going to be in the 50s! We already have our deck chairs out. 🙂

  • Toni Myers March 10, 2015 at 12:28 am

    You are brave to embrace such winters. I also like that you give yourself permission to consider some winter time in a warm climate. Either way, you win!