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 …
… last weekend the landscape felt barren.
I was a bit disappointed. But my eye was soon drawn to other things, like this peace symbol in the pavement …
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.
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!
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.
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.