Okay, I hate cold as much as the next African. In fact, probably worse. No matter how many layers of clothing I put on, cold rips through my skin, straight to my marrow. I’m not playing. And it’s not all in my head either. I don’t think it; I feel it every November to March (if not October to April and May).
But I’ve spent over 13 of my 16 American years right here in Minnesota. Which might lead many reasonable people to think, I’m either crazy, or a sadist with myself as the victim. An African in Minnesota, you are too.
But there are bigger reasons why we stay here, big enough to withstand any blizzard the state throws at us. But if you are like me, when the temperature drops, so do you out of sight. Like the bears and other creatures around this part of the world, it’s time for hibernation. We leave the house, only when necessary. Like going to work. To the grocery store. To Target. To the club.
But it shouldn’t have to be so.
The winter is much too long to spend it all inside, running from it. Look at it this way: If Minnesota is cold nine months out of twelve, then if you spend all the cold months hibernating you’ve wasted 3/4 of your life. I know I’ve wasted 3/4 of many years. That’s why I’m doing something about it this season. And I’m not talking about going to the Mall of America everyday either. If going to the MOA is your idea of passing the winter, then that’s okay. Especially if you can resist spending money on a shirt or shoes you don’t really need, but think it would look real nice in your closet. More power to you. You’re much stronger than I.
So, what is there to do in Minnesota in the winter? That is the question me and my family asked this season. And sooner we asked it, things came pouring.
So, you and your family loves going to the park. But your idea of a day at the park is not when the grass is white and park benches sit deep beneath a glacier. Don’t fret, they have indoor parks for that.
I don’t know the closest one to you but if you leave anywhere near Edina, stop by Edinborough Park any evening with those high energy kids of yours. From Adventure Peak (the giant indoor play structure) to swimming, they can play basketball or simply run around, jump around or play soccer.
If you are one of those parents with no time to do that work you took home with you, bring them with you, and while the kids get lost in the maze of fun, open your laptop and get lost in your spreadsheets. Or invite another family, and make it a date. While the kids play, you can catch up on all your gossips, or try to talk about everything except the fact that the value of your new house is falling faster than snow in a mid-December storm.
If an evening at the park is not your forte, head to an indoor skating place. Roller skating that is. You know, that 1970’s phenomenon. Again, I know there is one near where you live, but if you live around it, head to the Roller Gardens in St. Louis Park. Don’t let the kids have all the fun either; throw on a pair of skates, and go for it. I tell you, going round and round in a circle has never been this fun. With music your 7 and 8 year olds can lip-sync to, it’s a party on skates. If you are a young couple, or out on a date with that special somebody, it’s the clubs. And if you stay a while, learn couple of tricks, you can dance just like you did on the dance floors of your youth. (I’m sorry, I don’t mean to suggest your youth is far gone. What is age, if not just another number, right?)
If you are worried about not knowing how to roller skate, I didn’t either. And I tell you, it’s more fun not knowing than knowing. Yes, you’d fall few times. Okay, a lot. But therein lies the fun. If all falls were from a pair of skates in a skating ring, we would all go around falling everywhere.
Who said you can not have some good old water fun in Minnesota, and in the winter time at that? Take the family out to either Water Park of America (next to the Mall of America), or the Grand Rios in Brooklyn Park, and you’d forget it’s February in Minnesota.
But more than these indoor adventures to rid you of the winter blues, bundle up, and step out. Yeah, I said cold is no friend of mine. And I mean it. But since Minnesota is where I choose to be, I’ve made up my mind to brave it. So, muscle up, and step outside. Take the family to one of the nearby ski slopes. I know what you are thinking: “Did he just say ski?” “African and ski?” Yeah, I said it, and I ain’t taking it back. Ski.
Besides cross-country (if you don’t know, that’s when you ski on flat land mostly in town) I did in my high school gym class, I’ve been skiing only once. But I remember having a blast that one time. And as soon as the temperature warms a bit, I’m going for seconds.
There’s no denying it, when the temperature is below zero or near it, skiing takes dedication; probably not for first timers. But when the temperature is a little warmer, skiing can be a blast. And it’s true what they say: no matter how cold it is outside, when you get out there and start moving, start working that body heat, it’s very bearable.
If downhill skiing is too much too soon, and the only thing you do cross-country is drive, get a sled for them and watch your kids attack one of your neighborhood hills. Join them. When it snows, help them build a snowman. When it’s cold, make a fire in your yard, and roast some marshmallows. Go for a snow mobile ride, go ice fishing, go to a winter festival like the St. Paul Winter Carnival.
The options are endless. Even if you don’t love it, defeat winter. Attack it with force. Think about creative ways of doing the things you love doing in the summer. And trust me, winter will fly by faster than a twenty degree change in the Minnesota weather.