Arctic Circle

Winter in Minnesota. Need I say more?

To my relatives in Norway, hardly. There isn’t much they haven’t already seen, or felt in their bones. But if you happen to live in, say, Florida or Rio de Janeiro, you may not have had the dubious pleasure of waking up to a stone cold house and venturing out into a world where lakes have been known to freeze right down to the bottom. Sure, the landscape looks like a Christmas postcard, delightful and fitting for exactly 10 days. But for the rest of the four to six months of polar bear weather it’s nothing to write home about.

And yet, here I am, talking about it anyway. I’m not a complainer by nature; I always, but always, see the glass as not just half full but overflowing. In fact, I live in a state of gratitude, ever filled with a sense of abundance. Over the years I’ve faced copious amounts of life, some of it unbearably difficult, and I have faced death. Still, I’m an unrepentant and ardent optimist.

But there is one thing, one lone matter, to which I have not yet resigned myself and for which I fail to see a divine purpose: temperatures down in the -20 F range (anything lower I plain refuse to acknowledge as a possibility north of the South Pole). Really, I’ll go along with anything between freezing and 0 F. I’ll even give you 5 F and a stiff wind, for a combined wind chill factor in the arctic range. But once the mercury hits negative numbers, count me out. At that level of frigidity, I’ve stopped paying attention because measurements have become irrelevant. I have, for the foreseeable future, reflexively gone into a state of hibernation.

You won’t see me outside. You know, on the outside of houses, beyond the walls that offer enclosed chambers with environmental controls. Where the snow is, that side. I’ll cross the threshold of my front door only for absolutely necessary activities that take place on the inside of somewhere else, that is, in another house, office, or church. If I really must, I’ll even go out to shop, as long as the buying takes place indoors and assuming it can’t be accomplished online.

Beyond that, I’ll see you around late April or so. And if you’re in Rio, send me a postcard, will you? Hey, at this point, I’ll even take a shot of the crooked palm tree in the back yard of someone’s house in Florida. Its ragged fronds aside, it’s a sign of life, a guarantee that at least some part of the world escaped this latest Ice Age. It gives me hope that, after the mind-numbing (and limb-numbing) stretch of time ahead, there will be another summer, even in the Northern Plains.

© 2012 Ilona Goin. All rights reserved

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