I hate Minnesota in the winter. The hardest part about winter here is not the bone crushing cold but the length of the season. Just when you’ve had enough of winter, sometime after the champagne bottles from New Year’s Eve are empty and recycled, there are still another 2 to 3 months of this miserable season left in the upper Midwest. Year after year I declare that this winter I will embrace the beauty of the season; ice skate, snow board, toboggan, or snow shoe. This declaration is affectionately referred to as “Operation Embrace Winter” with a success rate that makes the Iraqi War look like one in the win column. Rather then set impossible expectations for yet another winter, it is time I declare defeat in “Operation Embrace Winter” and outline a new strategy for surviving until the tulips rise in spring.
Focusing on outdoor activities as a means of embracing winter backfired for a variety of reasons. Last year the temperature went below zero shortly after Thanksgiving and didn’t rebound until well after even the most dedicated partiers recovered from St. Patrick’s Day. I don’t care if you are from Ecuador or were born and raised on the Artic Circle; temperatures below zero, especially adding a bit of wind to them, are brutal. The only thing I embraced last winter was my husband, and that embrace was often me wringing his neck asking why the hell he moved me here. Most years “Operation Embrace Winter” failed not because of the cold, but because there wasn’t enough snow on the ground to engage in activities like cross country skiing and snow shoeing. By the time the blizzards did arrive in March most of the parks with trails are closed and preparing their golf courses for the warmer months; wishful thinking on their parts.
We attempted to enact “Operation Escape Winter” this year but determined the time and finances necessary to execute that mission were unavailable. “Operation Escape Winter” enjoyed much success in the past with trips to Hawaii, Aruba, and Florida but is unfortunately a very short lived solution since we are unable to launch “Operation Snow Bird” at this point in our lives. Working closely with a team of top advisors we are unveiling a new action to survive winter in Minnesota; “Operation Hibernation.”
Technically animals enter a state of regulated hypothermia to conserve energy during the winter which does not sound like much fun at all. Rather than do the hypothermia thing the plan is to engage in the “denning” done by bears and other animals. Denning is the act of hiding in a shelter to ride out the cold and this winter I am just looking to survive with my sanity, not become a snow bunny. The first steps in “Operation Hibernation” are preparing our bodies and our home for the mission. A crucial element in a successful hibernation is eating large amounts of food to store energy in order to survive the winter; this part of the mission was expertly accomplished over the holidays. The next order of business is preparing the den for hibernation. Our “den” now includes some of the warmest and most comfortable bedding ever, good food collected from the market and garden over the summer, plenty of books, dog toys for our cubs, Rock Band, and many forms of adult beverages should other bears wish to den at our house on the weekends. Our bunker is ready for a long winter’s nap.
Occasionally bears wake from hibernation, leave the den, and go foraging for food and fun. Unfortunately work forces most of us to leave our dens on a fairly regular basis making it nearly impossible to completely shut out winter. Part of “Operation Hibernation” is carefully planning activities outside the den to maximize fun but minimize exposure to the elements. Identifying indoor venues to temporarily provide us warmth and shelter when we are outside our den are important to maintain our sanity and survive the cold winter months. The gym offers a rare place in the winter where one can be hot and sweaty while still exposing skin. It is very important to carefully choose restaurants that are cozy, warm, and offer menu items that warm the soul. Other indoor places providing a temporary escape from winter are theaters, malls, and my personal favorite, spas. After several failures battling winter I am fairly certain that this campaign will be skillfully executed and won.