Let me make one thing clear: I moved to Minnesota for the snow and cold.
I grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., where the height of winter resembled, in a good year, Minnesota’s March. But the mid-Atlantic’s infamous Blizzard of ’66 and its 8-foot drifts left an indelible image on a 5-year-old easily dwarfed by what seemed like skyscrapers of snow.
And so from January 1966, the pursuit, the dream, was on. When I was old enough to live on my own, I endeavored to live in a place with a real winter that got real snow. I wanted it piled high and I wanted a kind of cold that was the stuff of legends – where exhaust freezes on contact, where tossed boiling water never hits the ground, and where frozen bananas could be used as hammers. At least that’s what I’d always thought.
Last year’s prodigious snows were welcomed. At the conclusion of each dumping, I found myself looking for the next big storm, the next Panhandle Hooker. More. I wanted more until I couldn’t see out my windows.
Last winter, I read Paul Douglas’s Star Tribune blog faithfully, my heart racing with each mention of two feet of snow as if Jennifer Aniston asked me if I were free on Saturday night. My ears grew wider with each Dave Dahl utterance of “more significant snow on the way.” Happiness was just a Winter Storm Watch away.
But then a funny thing happened. The first third of this “winter” has brought brown that, surprisingly, hasn’t caused me to be blue. As the host of a Minnesota weather blog whose activity depends on snowy weather, I’m at a loss to explain it all.
The flannel-lined jeans remain on the top shelf of the closet. The “serious” mittens have yet to see action. My dog walks confidently down sidewalks bereft of salt that usually stings his paws. And it doesn’t seem right that my California born-and-bred girlfriend has yet to report her first fall on the ice.
Maybe, just maybe, this is not so bad. My inner weather geek can find “coolness” in the possibility that this may be a record-setting snowless winter that I can tell my grandchildren about. And compared with all the dire predictions from the experts of a snowy, cold winter, I find unadulterated joy in knowing that weather – at least beyond the next day or two – still defies prediction.
My father, in his eternal eloquence, once reframed the elation I expressed on the first warm day after the snow had melted and it didn’t physically hurt to be outside. “It feels good when you stop hitting your head against a wall, doesn’t it?” he proclaimed. I think the old man was on to something.
Bill Stein is a communications consultant and editor of MinnesotaForecaster.com, a Minnesota weather blog.