(Fool)hardy Minnesotans

Last weekend I took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather to have a walk around Como Lake in St. Paul.

One of the ways you can determine the temperature in wintry Minnesota — apart from timing how long it takes your extremities to freeze solid — is to listen to the snow. Really!

When it’s truly frigid (say, 5 degrees Fahrenheit [-17 C] or below) the air can’t hold much moisture, so the snow underfoot becomes brittle and crunchy. But when it’s slightly above the freezing mark, as it was last weekend, the snow sounds pleasantly squishy. Like this:

I usually bring my full photographic regalia on these walks, because Como Lake attracts lots of wildlife. I’ve seen eagles here — and loons, ducks, fox, and even the odd trumpeter swan.

But aside from a solitary crow …

Como crow 1280142 BLOG

… last weekend the landscape felt barren.

Como lake tree 1280218 bLOG

I was a bit disappointed. But my eye was soon drawn to other things, like this peace symbol in the pavement …

Como sidewalk crack 1280159 BLOG

… see?

Como sidewalk crack 1280159 CR BLOG
… and the remnants of a windstorm across the snow.

Como snow 1280155 CX BLOG

I did encounter a few human animals, however. I’m always impressed by how hardy Minnesotans can be. Imagine braving the cold and darkness to go walk in circles around a frozen lake.

Como path 1280128 CX CR BLOG

But for all their hardiness, Minnesotans can be a bit foolhardy too. Like this guy who is risking frostbite on half his body (not to mention his unmentionables) by running in shorts. SHORTS!

Como jogger 1280144 BLOG

And just look at all the folks who have walked right past the “thin ice” sign, and onto the not-quite-frozen lake. I worry about these people.

Como thin ice 1280125 CL BLOG

They say the key to surviving a Minnesota winter is to get out there and embrace it. I say the key is to be hardy — but not foolhardy.


    • Aw, thank you! I was a bit disappointed in my photos, to be truthful — but as my husband often reminds me, “It’s not always about the photos.” Thanks for stopping by!

  1. It looked like a great day to bundle up for a walk. Love the photos but I know what you mean about wanting to just enjoy over taking pictures (and then wishing you had your camera-it’s hard to choose).

    • I struggle with that dilemma daily, Holli! I’ve even started leaving my camera at home on occasion, in an effort to force myself to be more “in the moment.” But more often than not I’m glad I have a camera along … you never know what you’re going to see! 🙂

  2. That is a delightful photo essay. You’ve captured the bleak winter beauty so well – love the shot of the crow in the tracery of branches – and made me laugh too. SHORTS!! 🙂

    • I’m so glad I brought a smile, Dancing Beastie! The guy must have thought I was some kind of pervert, because I couldn’t stop staring at cold-reddened legs and his fluorescent shorts. SHORTS!!! 😀

  3. Growing up in South Bend as I did, the land of lake-effect snow, second only to Buffalo, NY, I was a seriously snow-hardy young man. Now that I live in central Indiana, I’ve gone all girly-man about snow and cold and frankly don’t think I could move back north again.

    • You’ve gone all “girly-man” about snow and cold, Jim? Don’t know why, but that really made me smile. 😀 I do suspect you’d readjust to the tundra if you had to — but I sincerely hope you don’t have to. Maybe I’m getting old, but the winters seem to be getting worse!

  4. Shorts in a Minnesota winter? I bet he’s a California transplant. One of my friends just moved to Minnesota following her fiancé – it was for love not the weather!

    • You may be right that Shorts Guy is a California transplant, Nylonliving — most native Minnesota athletes remember the runner who lost BOTH LEGS to frostbite a few years ago. And my condolences to your friend who just moved here: Her love for her fiancé must be very strong indeed! 😉

  5. Wow love how you write. It captures ones attention. I stumbled upon your blog looking for Eastern Cottontail photos. I work at CROW, that stands for Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife. We are located on Sanibel Island in Fl. I saw that you used to rehab Cottontails as we call them ECT’s. We rehabilitate anything non-invasive to FL. We even have the occasional Loggerhead, Kemps Ridley or Green Sea Turtle. I am Minnesota born and raised until last year when I took a leap of faith and stepped from my comfort zone and abandoned fear and came to FL to work with wildlife. I went later in life to school to become a vet tech so I could finally do what I love. If you ever stumble down to Sanibel Island Florida look me up. I can give you a tour of our facility if you wanted. We also have photographers take photos of procedures and one even did a calendar.from animals we released or had recovering. Have a great day!

    • Thank you SO MUCH for your kind words, Missy … you made my day! (And would you mind if I save your kind words for some day when my boss is pointing out the flaws in my writing? HA!) How wonderful that you took a leap of faith and followed your dream — all the way to Florida. I truly admire that, and the incredible work you do. And absolutely, I will drop you a note if I stumble down to Sanibel Island. It’s not inconceivable, since half my family lives in The Sunshine State. It really would be lovely to meet you and tour your facility. In the meantime, thanks again for your kind words and I hope 2015 is wonderful.

  6. When I lived in Norway I was walking back from a party at 2 or 3 in the morning (I had a little drink and they have zero tolerance for drink driving) in the snow, a foot or two, and I saw joggers. In shorts. In December. So, maybe your your jogger is a Norwegian 🙂 I think they have antifreeze blood!

    • I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that jogger turned out to be a Norwegian — or a Swede. They’re abundant in these parts (I think because it reminds them of home).

      But tell me more about Norway … How long did you live there? Did you ever manage to learn Norwegian? How easy/difficult is it for foreigners to assimilate? I’m very curious about Scandinavia.

      • I was studying at Oslo uni for 6 months, it was fantastic! Ja, jeg kan snakke noen norsk 🙂 I went to classes, first a 3 week intensive course and then one class a week. I don’t know about assimilation, as things are a bit different when you’re a student. I did make friends, and also had a few random conversations on buses etc, but hardly saw anyone else who lived on my corridor. I love Scandinavia.

        • Wow … what a wonderful experience that must have been! Thanks for sharing it, and for your cultural insights. Very cool.

  7. That guy in shorts must be out of his mind. I feel your pain about the animals though, even a small bird hopping around can really brighten the spirits on a nature walk this time of year!

    • Isn’t is sad (and also kind of funny) that we’d be overjoyed to see a small bird hopping around? That sentence made me laugh. 😀 But on the plus side, I noticed last night that in Minnesota we’ve already gained an extra 25 minutes of light at the end of the day. Not long now before we’re absolutely surrounded by small critters hopping around!

      • We had a late sunset in Canada as well! I really am excited for spring, not that this winter was anything as bad as last year. I’ll make sure to post some photos of animals on the blog this year.

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