Monday, December 15, 2008

A Change of Heart

Where I come from, the temperature dips below zero two, maybe three times a year. It happens in the wee hours of the morning, and when it does, it dominates the local media. The NBC news affiliate will run stories about where the homeless will sleep while their CBS counterpart will air an exposé about the deadly threat that the arctic air presents.

But in Minnesota, it's just a way of life. Last year, during my first Minnesota winter, I lamented over the winters I used to know. The kind that brought snow one day, and 50 degree temperatures the next. The kind where negative temperatures happened so seldom that it was the major news story. Where sunshine reigns 300 days a year.

In Minnesota, people place houses on ice in winter. Municipalities routinely flood their parks to make ice rinks; you know, because they can. It's not unheard of to plug your car in at night, and highs below zero are just par for the course. Today's high? -3. In fact, this morning the air temperature hovered around -8 while the wind chill was a brisk -33.

It's the kind of cold that will freeze your nose hairs together in two seconds flat. Take a deep breath? Better not, it's likely to collapse a lung. This kind of weather will freeze flesh in about 10 minutes. And according to the local media, it is only just barley cold enough to prompt an air temperature warning.

I've never considered myself to be all that tough when it comes to the cold. But people here get excited when the temperature finally dips below zero. And while last year I would have looked at those people with a skeptical eye and curiosity about their sanity, this year I find myself joining the cause.

Almost like Coloradoans relish in their world class ski resorts, I find myself wearing our crazy ass cold like a badge of honor. High of 4 degrees? That's a freakin' heat wave people!

Yes, I'll finally admit that I may have actually stepped into the role of proud Minnesotan. I head "up north" in the summer and look forward to the subzero temperatures in the winter. You'll probably find me on the ice rink temporarily erected at my local park this weekend, and don't be surprised if my children become hockey players (it's the Minnesota way).

But for the record, you will still not hear me utter "dontcha know, " refer to soda as pop, or elongate my o's. I may be okay with, even slightly excited about the cold, but I haven't gone completely Minnesotan. Not yet anyway.