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Frozen groceries, and other good things

February 27, 2014


I will admit it: these past two days I have, midday, set aside my to-do list (long, long, always incomplete) and crawled into bed for an afternoon nap. I am a bit under-the-weather, but after two days of these shenanigans, I think it’s time to admit that I am under this weather, these continual sub-zero, take-your-breath-away, freeze-your-nose-hairs days.

Oh Minnesota. I love you. I do. I am a huge champion of my adopted state. Don’t come between me and my Land of 10,000 Lakes, because I will always go to bat for this place. I love the people, the social services, my neighbors, the emphasis on family and education, the way things run like a mini-Sweden, all tidy and efficient. I love the cities with their world-class museums and arts, and the country, with its trails and orchards. I love my running paths and parks and shimmering lakes, the geese in the summer. And yes, I even love winter. At least, I don’t mind it. I find it silly when Minnesotans complain about the snow and cold. I want to say People! What did you expect? We do not live in California. This is what we signed up for. Yes, the winters are long, and they are dark, and the snow piles so high we create our own mountain ranges in the Target parking lot. But we wear good gear and we keep the soup pot bubbling at the back of the stove and we stock up on oatmeal and herbal tea and we slick our bodies with the best lotions and we just keep going. That’s what Minnesotans do. We still walk our dogs and play hockey and ski and run. We drive on roads covered in sheets of ice. We plow our way to piano lessons in the worst of blizzards. We are survivors.

But this winter. Oh, this winter. Even the heartiest of folks, we have been brought to our knees. This morning, when I checked the temperature, it was -30 with windchill. Weeks and weeks of this, and we’re all feeling a little crackly around the edges. The kids have played outside twice (twice!) in the past month. My beloved running trails, thoughtfully groomed all through the winter, lay buried in three feet of snow. Even the city workers have thrown in the towel, or the snowplow, as it were.

So, amidst all this, when I’m on the brink of revolting if I have to make another pot of soup, I’ve been keeping a running list of “Things I Love About Minnesota Winters” in my head. Survival tactic, that’s what this is:

*I never have to worry about my groceries spoiling if I leave them too long in the trunk of the car. They could stay for hours. Days! Weeks! So could that banana peel I found frozen in the cupholder in the back of the car. No spoilage in these parts.

*Winter is productive for writerly artists. In the summer we live outside. We shutter the basement, pack away the Legos, stow away the board games, and resist the urge to burn the soup pot. We chase that sun just as long as we can. But in the winter, we do the work. We sit, bottom in chair, and write.

*Winter is a time of gathering. We spend a lot of time together as a family. Totem living, that’s what this is, all stacked on top of one another. But it’s bonding time. We play board games, read stories, play Legos, and bake muffins. We grow close.

*We don’t shop–I save money! I am not much of a shopper anyway. In fact, I would call myself a chronic under-shopper, but still, I can’t knock out five store when it’s ten below. Not with a preschooler in-tow. I haven’t been clothes shopping in three months. Preston finally came to me, pleading for new shoes, after he showed me that his old ones were flapping open at the toe. I went out the next day, sliding my way along the icy roads, braving the knife-like wind, and got him new shoes. Everyone else will have to wait ’til spring.

*It’s beautiful. I will admit, I love the look of winter. The world appears frosted in thick icing. Evergreen trees covered in snow may be my favorite thing, and a fresh snow, even in late February, makes me happy. Seth and I skied the other day through the woods, and it was just like Narnia. I expected at any moment to round the corner and see a lamppost, and perhaps Mr. Tumnus walking toward it, carrying a stack of wrapped parcels. I thought perhaps I’d see the White Witch too. She and I really need to have a heart-to-heart. I could tell her that while I loved this land of always winter and never Christmas, I really hoped that sometime soon, days or weeks from now, Aslan would step his enormous furry paw upon this frozen landscape. He would open his muzzle and breath warm breath, giving our beloved corner of the world the smallest hope of rebirth and renewal.

And that, above all, is what gets me through. Hope. I’ve done this before. Life vibrates deep under this frozen surface, and soon, so soon, I will be first-hand witness to a miracle.

Until then, it’s time to crawl out of bed and make another round of soup.

  1. Meredith permalink
    February 28, 2014 6:19 pm

    You are an amazing person! I honestly don’t know if I could have the optimism you do with all that snow!

  2. February 28, 2014 6:27 pm

    WOW, you are SUCH a good writer; amazing really. And, besides that you have a great attitude. I’m impressed with your list of ways to winter winter.

  3. Janice Gee permalink
    March 5, 2014 11:39 am

    I loved this post Tiffany. YOu need to send that to the local paper. It is too good. love mom

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