‘Snow problem

Esteban and I had excellent timing in leaving our house for a condo, it seems: This winter has been among the coldest and snowiest I remember in a long time. It’s been wonderful not to worry about shoveling, or parking restrictions, or raking snow off the roof.

Snowy, icy street 1810613 BLOG

Still, I did feel a bit guilty this morning when I heard the young men (once again) plowing our parking lot. “Thanks so much for doing this,” I said to one of them as I left for work. “It’s no problem,” he replied — though I heard it as “snow problem.” Indeed.

Anyway. The absence of snow-related chores has helped me better appreciate the white stuff, even when it snarls traffic. A couple of weeks ago it took me 15 minutes just to get on the freeway. (Not moving, so totally safe to activate the dash-cam and show you these white-out conditions.)

Zero visibility 1810572 BLOG

Still not moving (but leaving lots of room in case someone gets overconfident and spins out).

Zero visibility 1810575 BLOG

As usual, winter brought out the best in Minnesotans, like this pedestrian who left his perch on the curb to push a stranger around the corner.

Downtown snow 1810584 CR BLOG

I felt bad for the woman who tried to follow me up this hill, though: Without four-wheel drive, no amount of pushing was going to get her over that incline.

Snowy hill 1810597 BLOG

The following morning I headed out for a stroll. It was still dark, because … well, it’s still dark before I go to work. All the better to capture the eerie glow of incoming headlights on the road.

Snowy street 1810598 BLOG

Also eerie? How the sidewalk ends, with the tacit suggestion that you step into the path of those headlights.

Pedestrian hell 1810600 CR BLOG

Yesterday brought another “complex mixed wintry precipitation event,” which in my experience translated roughly as “wind-driven, razor-sharp ice shards.”

NWS forecast IMG_7835 BLOG

I didn’t have to work. But I did have a doctor appointment downtown, so I dutifully covered as much flesh as possible and headed into the elements. The drive there wasn’t too bad, actually. But the drive back? Well, it would have been faster to get out and walk.

Mississippi view 1810585 BLOG

So I did. I was practically alone on the Stone Arch bridge as I took in the wintry scenery.

Stone Arch Bridge 1810817 BLOG

Stone Arch Bridge 1810833 BLOG

Stone Arch Bridge 1810837 BLOG

But then a jogger went by … and turned around.

Stone Arch Bridge 1810855 BLOG

I felt apprehensive as he approached me. His face was completely covered, and there was no one else around. I instinctively rehearsed my exit strategy.

“Can I ask you a big favor?” the lanky figure said as it approached. “Can you take my picture?” I looked at his frost-covered eyelashes and kind eyes. This man was not a threat.

Shane Stone Arch IMG_7881 BLOG

His name was Shane, and he was a college-basketball star in his senior year when he found out he had Multiple Sclerosis (MS). “I just went blind in one eye one day,” he said. But he was doing better now, thanks in part to a new drug.

He had all the hope and joy of someone who’s been given a second chance … and he wanted to remember this moment. I was happy to photograph him running, relishing a simple act most of us take for granted.

Shane Stone Arch IMG_7870 CC BLOG

I told him about someone dear to me who is also fighting MS. “What’s her name?” he asked. “I’ll pray for her.” And I believed him.

As I walked back to my car, I could hear my friend Dan playing the carillon in the tower high above City Hall. I couldn’t make out the tune but it didn’t matter. The bells were a perfect soundtrack for this arctic-cold city full of warm hearts and kind strangers.

Stone arch bridge 1810876 BW CC BLOG


  1. Your timing is good as it was sunny and 77 (F) where I live, so I am in fine shape for enjoying your beautiful snow pictures.

    Actually, I think I could thrive in Minnesota. I know that I’m in the minority but I feel cheated if I do not get snowed in for at least a day or two every winter. I mean that’s what winter is for!

    • 77 degrees??! You’re killing me, JP! 🙂

      Like you, I also feel cheated if we don’t get at least one good, blanketing snowfall — especially around the holidays. I could do without the sub-zero temps, tho. Maybe next year, ha ha.

    • I do too, Judy! It somehow makes the moment more timeless when you can only catch a little auditory “glimpse” of the song, doesn’t it? Lovely to hear from you …

    • Lake-effect snow is another thing entirely, Jim — I honestly don’t know how people survive it! Glad you moved to a more moderated part of Indiana, at least.

    • Thank you for your kind words! I’m challenging myself to get out there even on crummy days. Sometimes I’m surprised that it’s not as crummy as I first imagined. Other times, I’m really grateful to come back inside and have central heating. But either way, it’s good to remind ourselves every now and then that for all our modern conveniences, we are still a part of nature.

    • What a kind comment, Mel. Thank you! I honestly wasn’t sure myself where the post was going until I wrote it — so I’m gratified you appreciated the plot twist. 🙂

  2. Another “chance” encounter that turned into a nice exchange. Snow in Minnesota! Of course the year we stay home for the winter we get cold and more snow. Oh well, Melanie does a great job with her new snow blower.

    • OF COURSE the year you stay home for the winter we get the horrible cold snaps and plenty of snow, Tom — it’s Murphy’s Law, isn’t it? (Or some Minnesota equivalent.) At least you had the good sense and good fortune to marry a woman who knows her way around a snowblower. My husband was not so lucky. 🙂

  3. While I am craving Summer something fierce, this post was so sweet and almost makes me crave the powdery white stuff (Almost!) I so appreciate living in an apartment building where I don’t have to shovel, especially when I go home to my parent’s house during the winter and being the “dutiful daughter” shovel for them :p
    I as always loved your pictures and the story of Shane was so sweet! I love that! As much as I am a Summer girl there is something about walking around in a snow storm and meeting other brave souls 🙂 ❤

    • What a wonderful daughter you are to swing by and shovel for your parents! I bet it’s just one of 10,000 ways you brighten their day. 🙂

      And you’re right that there’s something special about meeting other brave souls who are hardy (or foolish) enough to be out in a snowstorm. It’s a kind of brotherhood you just don’t find in Tampa or Orlando, ha ha.

  4. Heide, no falseness – I’m teared up with this post. It’s beautiful, so many levels. This man also knew your kindness. Lovely you could be there to experience each other that day. Thank you for sharing all – beautiful photos, humor, and so many examples of gratitude for life in the face of difficulty. I appreciate – very –

  5. Good pictures and I want to add this to your comments about them.
    I believe that fact that we have 4 definite seasons here in N. Wyoming with a lot of snow now and can make us appreciate the rebirth of springtime a bit better. When the trees start to take on the first buds of springtime and certainly the grass takes on the effect of warmth by the sun, you can see the effects of Hope each year. And you can see God more visually in the transition from winter to springtime a bit better. Just my thought I wanted to add.

    • Thank you so much for stopping by, Jim, and especially for adding your thoughts! I agree with you that the bitter winters make spring all the more precious — and all the more miraculous too (because it really does seem like a miracle to me when everything comes back to life in the spring). Cheers to you from a couple of states over!

  6. Your post is so refreshing to mind. It feels so perfect even when the conditions are tough to deal with.
    You got a good eye there with everything around ya. 🙂

  7. This has happened to me and I know how you feel. This is really hard when you cant be late to school or work when it is snowing.

    • Yes, the snow can really mess up traffic! I always feel bad on those days for people who have to be somewhere at a very specific time, like for a job interview. Thank you for stopping by!

  8. HA! I do NOT miss winter in North America AT ALL. I am from Boston, where the weather is only slightly less beastly than Minnesota. My new home in Switzerland is Winter-Lite comparatively! We get all the good stuff about winter, snow in the mountains, skiing, pretty pictures, without all the crap like digging your car out or getting stuck in 4 hours of traffic. The funny thing is, winters in Boston always made me feel so badass. We love to complain about the winter… but secretly… we love it.

    • You are SO RIGHT about the badass factor! There’s something really gratifying about standing up to Mother Nature (after donning the appropriate layers, of course), isn’t there? Still, if someone offered me “winter lite” in Switzerland with “without all the crap like digging your car out or getting stuck in 4 hours of traffic,” I would go for it in a heartbeat.

  9. I just loved reading your post. Give’s me perspective on what’s important and what’s not at all. My gosh, I should never complain about a single thing. I think Shane must be pretty special even before he discovered his MS. If you read this, good luck Shane, I’m sorry to hear that.
    That being said, and thinking of Shane, winter is a breeze…no worries at all.

    • Isn’t Shane’s story a bit shot of perspective? My heart really went out to him for having to face such a terrible diagnosis at such a young age. I join you in wishing him a long life and good health. The world needs more people like him …

    • With the right combination of humidity and temperature, even a few flakes can cause a mess! Lucky you for not having to worry about that too often. 😉

  10. Hello.

    Happily, these hard winter times start to be history now. In Helsinki we have some snow here and there, but in the north, there is yet today snow.

    Have a wonderful day!

    • Hello, Matti! Yes, indeed — winter is almost history now. We still have a few piles of snow, but there are large patches of grass everywhere, finally. It’s wonderful. Hope spring reaches you soon, too!

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