I jumped out of my truck yesterday, intent on sprinting into the building so as not to freeze my nose. My sweet black boots were also not meant for this kind of devastatingly cold weather.
I mentally prepared myself inside the vehicle: shut off truck, shove door open with your shoulder cuz it’s a little stiff, swing legs out, don’t slip on the inevitable ice below, slam door shut and start the sprint taking the shortest possible route to the door as soon as my feet hit the ground.
This might seem a little dramatic, but that is the inner me. Especially the inner me when it’s twenty degrees below zero Fahrenheit with a windchill I’ll never comprehend to fulfill a commitment I had made years prior.
I took a deep breath and started my rapid fire escape to warmth. As soon as my black boots hit the black tar of the parking lot, I kicked it into high gear.
Only I was stuck in park.
My warm boots had instantly frozen to the ground!
This of course struck me as hilarious, so I take a second to let out a loud laugh as I tried to move my feet and they kept resticking to the ground beneath them for four or five steps til they cooled off and no longer melted and froze beneath me.
Of course laughing brought a bunch of freezing cold air into my lungs that made me cough, and the extra moments outdoors had frozen my nose so it wouldn’t return as quickly as I should.
Needless to say my escape plan was a complete fail, but it did produce some laughter, so that’s a bonus I guess.
As I made my way inside the building, I was thinking about a couple bloggers that mentioned lately that they don’t get temps like this (Shout out to Butterfly Girl and Mercury Twin). It made me wonder if they had ever experienced things like boots sticking to the ice and frozen noses.
So I thought I would list some of the things that you may miss if you’ve never experienced what I would call extreme cold temps.
- A frozen nose. This seriously kinda happens. If you are outside too long without a scarf or facemask, your nose will freeze. This was kind of a game as a kid – my sisters and I would scrunch our noses up, like we smelled something funny, but our noses wouldn’t immediately return to normal. It takes its dear old time, and the feeling is absolutely unusual. Also you can see your breath – your warm breath in the cool air forces every child to pretend smoking a cigarette at least once.
- Dirty Cars. The car washes don’t even run at zero degrees, and I never wash my car with temps that are below freezing. In the 30’s yeah, you might be able to get away with it. But when it’s cold, and you have a long ways to go before you get home and you don’t get the car completely dried, your doors and locks will freeze on you. Like lock you inside until you smash your door like the FBI leading a raid to break the ice. Or worse yet, the locks freeze, which require a little skill or a ten dollar tool to correct. Also, I live on gravel, so my vehicles are always brown. And, in Minnesota, USA, we salt the roads to keep them ice free in warmish cold temps, and the salt rusts the bottoms of vehicles, so it’s kinda ugly to look at cars much over 7 years old.
- Cramping feet. I worked a couple jobs over the years that were cold. One in particular I sat at a desk with no heat when it was cold, and then a weak heater when it was really cold, but the cement floor even under my winter Sorel boots would cause my feet to not only cramp there, but also for the rest of the evening when I returned home and sporadically through the night as I attempted to rest. (Thus purchasing boots a size too big in order to fit warm wool socks in them. Redneck but true).
- Fingers freezing. When you are out in the cold for a prolonged period of time, and need to remove your really warm gloves for some reason, it doesn’t take long for them to freeze. While hunting some years ago, my fingers became so cold after the hand warmers went out that I had difficulty grasping the rungs on the way down the 16 foot ladder. That’ll learn ya.
- Freezing water pipes. Our home is basically some retired couples’ old cabin. It’s not the greatest, but the view is worth it in my opinion. Sometimes people’s summer cabins have not great insulation, and things like water pipes freezing happens. This shuts down business. No shower, no toilet, no water from the sink, no supper. Nothing. The first year of our home ownership we learned all kinds of ways to insulate so as not to deal with frozen pipes more than once…
- Icy roads. My first apartment required me to park my car across the street at the bottom of a hill. One day I had difficulty getting to college because the hill was so icy I couldn’t get my car up it. My parents lived at the bottom of a much larger hill, and I remember more than once sliding alllllll the way down that sucker. It doesn’t just slide backwards in a nice straight line… It’s ice. It swerves all over and you just pray to God that you won’t swerve into the steep ditches.
- Frozen lakes. Minnesota is known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes. From about late December to mid March most of our lakes are completely frozen, frozen by the end of January enough to drive your full size truck and its fancy shmancy ice house out to your favorite fishing hole. It sounds crazy and weird because it is. The entire time you’re out there, even just standing with no big truck, the ice makes these cracking and popping noises and some noise I can only describe as zinging as the ice constantly moves and shifts, creating pressure ridges and the springs causing shallow pools to form. It’s crazy but cool.
- Crazy temp shifts in our great state. Last week we had -35 degree temps, next week we are expecting +25 degree temps. It’s not unusual in March to go from 12 inches of snow one week to greenish lawns the next. It’s not unheard of to go from 50 to 85 degrees and back again in the course of 24 hours. This sounds cool, and it is, but it can also be dangerous. I’ll never forget my father in laws hunting story- he and his buddies went out duck hunting in the sloughs. The day started off at 72 degrees, a storm came in, it plummeted below freezing (32 deg F) and they nearly didn’t make it out alive as they were just in short sleeves out in the wilderness when the blizzard it, the winds making it nearly impossible to paddle to shore.
- A snow ball down the back feels even colder than a hand full of ice. It’s especially miserable when it first hits your neck and the freezing crystals cascade down your back and start to melt before you can get it removed because, honestly, sticking your frozen glove down your shirt to remove the frozen shards is not exactly pleasant either…
- Ice out. This is something that truly has to be experienced in person. My personal favorite is Mille Lacs Lake which is so large that mother nature’s force can be felt, heard and seen in unbelievable splendor. Sometimes the Ice Out is so powerful and so fast that it comes up on shore and can even smash and damage homes. It’s like an invisible wave of ice that just keeps piling up and piling up and piling up until it’s pushed out of the lake and onto shore. I can’t even really describe it. If i can find one of my older videos of this stunning display of nature’s might, I’ll add it on here later. It’s truly awesome, but my heart goes out to those who are affected negatively by this powerful force.
Here’s as link to a YouTube video. It’s not my video , but I was there that year and can vouch for it.
Those are my top ten cool things about severe temps in MN, USA. However, don’t let it deter you from visiting- it’s a very unique land with lots of scenery, wildlife, people and cultures to be experienced.
and, of course, don’t forget about snow ball fights, snow forts, plowed snow piles for sledding, ice fishing, sun dogs, the beautiful shine of snow on a depressing winter day, ice rinks, hockey, broom ball, snowmobiling and a million other reasons we stay here.
It’s not all bad, it’s just quirky, kind of like me 🙂
This is a picture my 6 year old snapped by accident last year. He was trying to catch the sun dog over our neighbor’s field, but we were driving so he eventually lost the field and instead snapped this photo. When I went to delete the one that made me look like a creepy stalker, I just couldn’t. That sun dog just looks like it’s blessing their farm!