We people of the North have a peculiar make up. We live in a land with winters that many with less fortitude deem as a hostile environment, yet we flourish in many ways. Our annual plunges into a polar world make us better people.
Having lived in mild California for two years, I have seen what many believe to be the better side. The temperature seldom strayed below the mid-50s. I saw snow twice and that was in the higher foothills.
Taking an evening walk required a jacket at best. There were no mad rushes across the frozen garage floor in bare feet to take out the garbage or bring in the dog. In the morning the car never turned over in a frozen groan but dutifully started without a whimper.
This was all very convenient, even appealing at times. But that was all it was -- convenient. The same balmy weather, day after day, was no variety to someone used to changing seasons and sub-zero winter nights. I gladly made the choice to return to the north country when I could.
Most Minnesotans know winter has a certain charm to it. There are heady experiences and deep feelings that can only be realized when one lives in the cold. Take, for example, the phenomenal star-filled skies, sometimes laced with the undulating northern lights, we see on deep winter nights. Night has a heavy silence when it is still and the snow absorbs every foreign noise. What is a crackling fire or warm blanket to someone who has spent the day in short sleeves?
Certainly the long, dark winters are trying. Some people never catch the spirit and spend the weeks in near hibernation. But those that embrace winter experience it for all it has. Some even feel the season is too short. Cross country skiers and snowmobilers wait anxiously for snow. Ice fishermen anticipate ice. Sledders, skaters and snowboarders can't get enough of winter. These people know the true spirit of the cold season.
Knowing the dangers, inconveniences and challenges of winter makes us better people. People whose cars always start, whose roads are never slippery and who go day to day without weather challenges often have no reverence for nature and its forces. People whose lives are dictated by the weather -- perhaps who even are personally threatened by the elements -- have a healthy respect for things greater than us. We know the weather can bring great grief, even snuff us out in a second, if we're not careful. It shows in our respect, attitude and spirit.
So now that real winter weather has arrived, enjoy it for what it is. Try something new. It will last only for two more months.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.