December 4, 2008
The Phases of Minnesota Winter
Minnesota winters rarely descend in one wallop. They are sly and meandering. What starts as a light jacket turns to a scarf. From scarves we add progressively thicker and sillier hats. When we are out of clothing to add, we hurry.
When it gets cold enough everybody walks the same way. We walk briskly, tight lipped, tight cheeked and bent against the wind. This is the way the white guy does it. This is the way the black guy does it. Bone-crushing cold is a great racial equalizer.
If having to wear a jacket is the first phrase, the second phase is noticing when refrigerated goods feel warm in your hand when you step outside. By my tally, this morning we officially entered phase two.
Phase three is measured in one of two ways: it is either when I am greeted by an icicle growing in my nose or when the inside doorknob of my kitchen frosts over and stays frosted no matter how high the heat is set. Phase three usually strikes the second week of January. I hope it is late this year.