Winter

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Since the last time I posted about the weather, winter has come to Minnesota. There have been two snowfalls, and the temperature has been in the zero to mid twenties range. This is cold enough so the snow doesn’t melt. On the colder days, the warm air and fine particulate matter that comes out of chimneys turns to white steam or smoke. It’s wisps coming from the chimneys of houses and great billowing clouds coming from the smokestacks of the downtown power and heating plants. The tall buildings of both downtowns are wreathed in long, drifting trails of whiteness.

The snow has turned to gray or black at the edges of the streets and highways. But it’s still white on lawns and the roofs of houses.

This feels so right to me. It’s the way the Twin Cities ought to look this time of year. People ought to be bundled up in parkas and boots. I am currently wearing my Wintergreen jacket, made in Ely in far northern Minnesota and trimmed with Norwegian ribbon, and a Dale of Norway headband with a traditional knit pattern. I ought to break out my mukluks, also from Ely, but I haven’t yet.

I feel sorry for some of our new citizens: the man with an African accent working in the car wash that Pat and I used. There he was, wrapped in a scarf, spraying soapy water over Pat’s car.

The Somalian women in their long skirts and winter parkas, climbing over banks of snow, don’t always look entirely happy.

Though I should remember that many young Somalians have spent most of their lives in Minnesota. This is home town weather to them. And the gentleman from Africa might be here to escape a civil war. Working in a car wash (especially in the winter) strikes me as a job I would never want, but it’s better than being in a war.

As the famous song tells us, war is good for absolutely nothing. Washing cars is one of those ishy jobs that ought to be honored for its utility. Car washes make life a little better for the community. A Minnesotan with a clean car in the middle of winter is a happier person.

My mother, who grew up in southwestern China, never got used to the weather in Minnesota. Her idea of home was a place with banana trees and rice paddies, with snow on the mountains, but not in your front yard.

With luck, the children of our new citizens will grow up to play ice hockey and cross country ski. Though it may be too warm for such sports in a few more years.

Let’s all enjoy winter while we can and encourage our cities to build artificially frozen, outdoor skating rinks. I want to see Minnesota kids play hockey outside under the lights on dark winter afternoons.

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