wintertime in minnesota
I couldn’t help but laugh when my mom walked into my bedroom and announced, “Tomorrow is the first day of Spring!” I laughed, of course, because I was lying in bed next to Sam (who is currently recovering from surgery) watching the snow tumble down from the sky. What is this “Spring” she speaks of?
According to the Star Tribune*, those who live in Minnesota have just endured the “harshest winter in more than 30 years.” For those who like numbers, here’s a glimpse of the actual weather conditions we’ve recently experienced.
50: Total days with lows below zero.
17: Consecutive days of subzero lows.
21: Days with lows below zero in an average year.
May 3: Last snow of last winter.
Nov. 3: First snow of this winter.
6: More weeks of snow than usual.
9,361: Minneapolis cars towed for snow-related violations.
23: Days with windchill warnings.
Minus 25: Temperature at which windchill warnings are issued.
6: Weather-related school closings in Minneapolis and Rochester …
7: … and in Duluth
700: Frozen home water pipes in St. Paul’s Regional Water System.
159,463: Heating failure service calls to CenterPoint Energy.
225: Frostbite cases at HCMC in January and February.
95.7: Percent of Lake Superior iced over.
61: Inches of total snowfall as of March 19.
24: Inches of snow at its greatest depth, Feb. 21.
“Harsh” is definitely one way to put it and for this Texan-turned-Minnesotan it has been, at times, an honest fight for joy.
I’m not sure when it happened exactly (maybe right between our furnace breaking and the 20th windchill warning), but the Lord began working a precious truth deep down in my bones and that truth is this:
“…had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there. You are placed by God in the most suitable circumstances, and if you had the choosing of your lot, you would soon cry, ‘Lord, choose my inheritance for me, for by my self-will I am pierced through with many sorrows.” –C.H. Spurgeon
How many days this past winter would I have chosen a different lot? A different place to live? A different wintertime for my kid’s childhood? They would have outnumbered the inches of snow. But divine love did not put us somewhere warmer, somewhere more comfortable to live- He put us here, and in his great wisdom, this is where me and my family will grow.
Around early February, I began making a mental list of all the gifts, both big and small, we’ve received because of this winter God has given us. I’m recording a few of them here because they will no doubt be a source of hope for me come next November.
1.) Sledding. When I am old and gray, I hope I still remember the pure and exuberant joy I felt while watching my children sled down the snowy hills of Minnesota. There is nothing like it. Our family could sled for hours and never tire, it was the highlight of the winter for all of us.
2.) Snowed-in. It occurred to me one day this winter how much time our family spends together, especially during these cold months. It seems we are together all of the time. This of course provides ample amount of time to work on our relationships with one another. If you spend very little time apart, you are forced to learn how to live peacefully with one another. When I began to feel weary of the dropping temps outside, I was reminded that it’s on these long winter days that our boys are becoming each other’s closest friend- a relationship I pray only deepens as they grow older- and this lifelong friendship begins now in these early years together.
3.) Cabin fever. Staying home for months-on-end has given my boys countless hours of uninterrupted, creative play. I have seen their imaginations soar this winter. Not filling up our days trying to get out and entertain our kids has been a gift to them, and to us. They’ve learned how to busy themselves with what we have here at home and it’s been such fun to watch their minds at work. (This doesn’t mean there weren’t days when I wasn’t tempted to plug an extension cord into my hair dryer in hopes to melt the snow because maybe- just maybe- Momma had had one too many indoor sword fights, hockey matches, and archery tournaments and has been found in her bedroom to be rocking herself without a baby.)
4.) Snowball fights. My boys and I chased each other around the front yard for half-an-hour the other day pelting each other with snowballs. We played until Joe got home and then the boys and I joined efforts to attack Daddy. We had the time of our lives!
5.) Seasons. Growing up in Texas we experienced two seasons: Summer and Hotter Summer. Living in Minnesota has given my family the opportunity to experience every season, even if some last longer than others. A friends of ours recently joked about the weather in Minnesota: “I hope summer falls on a weekend this year!”
6.) Gratitude. When temps warmed up last week, we headed outside in our rain boots to splash in the puddles. Five minutes in and we were screaming with delight over the five blades of grass we discovered in our neighbors yard poking through the snow . Spring holds out so much hope for those who live in the land of Always Winter and Never Christmas and we can’t help but be grateful.
And so we are. For this coming Spring and so much more.
*Thanks to Abraham Piper for sharing this article.