An Open Letter to Critics of Winter
It has recently come to my attention that the number of people (like me) who claim winter as their favorite season is exceedingly low. I was downright astonished to learn that 95% of those surveyed actually prefer one of the less frigid seasons. Now, it is true that winter is not always comfortable, but I thought it was our obligation as Minnesotan’s to embrace the breath-stealing cold, to play in the snow, and to show the rest of the world how tough we are by not complaining about it and wearing flip-flops as soon as the temps rise above 35 degrees. I’ve had some success sharing this attitude with my 2-yr old son (I'm quite proud of his categorical refusal to wear a hat and gloves no matter the temperature), but my wife’s relationship with winter has always been a bit strained, and now I fear she has finally broken ranks and fully joined the "fair weather" folks. This year, she suggested that we “get away for a week” during winter. I was completely caught off guard. “Get away from what?” was my initial reply. Then, feeling uneasy about the direction this conversation was headed, I asked “Where else could you possibly want to be in mid-January?” and hopefully suggested West Yellowstone. Alas, I find myself headed for Cancun.
Must I remind her, and some of you, that winter is the season of saunas, skiing, snowshoeing, skating, and sledding? The time of spiced cookies, hot chocolate, fireplaces, and grog? The only time of year you might wake up to see that the landscape has been transformed overnight into a winter wonderland, covered by a blanket of soft snow glittering in the sunlight? In this time when we Minnesotans can't seem to agree on anything (from politics to to climate change to the best Prince song), we ought to be able to agree on this – Winter in Minnesota is a season to be celebrated!
Fortunately, I see hints of change on the horizon. The cinematic success of Frozen and now Frozen II, the rising popularity of buffalo plaid and pom beanies, and the fact that the FIS Cross-Country World Cup is coming back to Minnesota for the first time in years may be signs that public opinion is shifting to the the left (on a temperature scale at least). So, quit being soft, pull on your long johns, and join me on this winter bandwagon.
And next time you’re feeling a "bit chilly", before you gripe about winter, let’s review the unvarnished truths of the other seasons. A late July day is nice to look at from inside your air-conditioned house, but the moment you step out the front door, the oppressive heat and humidity will quickly remind you that July is most definitely not the happiest time of the year. And did you forget about bugs? When you look back fondly at summer, do your memories include the blood-thirsty mosquitos, sneaky no-see-ums, and head-bombing deer flies? I suspect you conveniently leave them out.
Even I must admit there is something a tiny bit special about the leaves changing colors and piling up on the trails, ready for rustling feet. If you pick the right day, you may even find the temperature could be described as “comfortable”. The trouble with fall (and the reason I cannot say it is my favorite season) is that it is just too easy to enjoy. Indeed, anyone can have a nice time on a pretty autumn day, and where are the bragging rights in that?
And finally, spring. Some see the season when the buds open and the sun regains warmth as a time of revitalization and hope, but to me, it is just a time of impossibly muddy driveways and days filled with sorrow over the loss of all of that lovely snow. When the Birkie and the Vasaloppet are in the books and the only precipitation in the forecast is rain, I fall into a state of melancholy that may not lift until the next snowflake flies.
So, the next time you are asked for your favorite time of year, consider confidently and proudly stating “Winter”! We are Minnesotans, after all. We must stand together and whole-heartedly embrace the season that so defines both this great state and us, it’s hardy inhabitants.