Friday's Weekend Column
Brrrrrrrr It Is Cold

by James Glaser
January 17, 2003

I kid you not it is cold out here in the northland. Northern Minnesota is Minnesota cold right now. Below zero every night and the weatherman just said next week would be colder than it has been in years. We have been pretty spoiled up till now, but now we get to live up to our reputation. Oh boy.

I went out to clean up the workshop as it is always nice to start a project with every thing in its place and a clean floor makes for a safer shop. I got out there early and the door was frozen shut. That is one advantage of a cold Minnesota, sometimes it is just too cold to work. I walked back to the house and put another pot of coffee on. From experience I have learned that it is better to wait for the sun to warm things up when it is real cold because if you force things they tend to break at real low temperatures.

We have a lot of windows facing south in the kitchen, in fact the whole south wall is filled with windows and that direction is a beautiful lake view. That kitchen is like a add on to the house and tends to get cold, so we put a little gas heater in there, but when the sun is shinning in on even the coldest of winter days you have to turn that heater off or you roast.

In the winter one tends to bake a lot more as that oven heats up the whole house and nothing smells better coming in from the cold and having a pie or bread in the oven. Winter in Minnesota is a weight gain time because of that.

This is how it works up here. When you read that Minnesota is in the middle of a cold snap, you know the skies are clear and that sun is shinning bright, even if not for that long each day. At night the sky is the clearest you will ever see it and I have been told that at -20 below it is the very best time to watch the stars. Really on a still night with warm clothes, it is a sight to behold. You can see that whole band of the Milky Way.

Then when the warm up comes it is cloudy and that's when we have snow. People don't like that real cold, but after several cloudy days people start to get short with each other and it just isn't any fun. The sun brings smiles to everyone's face, even if it is too cold.

This is the time of year Minnesota has its best natural feature on display, the "Aurora Borealis," better known as the Northern Lights. If you have never seen them you are missing the finest light show you can ever see. They are always different, but if you catch a good night the whole sky just shimmers and flickers with every color of light and that light moves all around the sky. Hard to describe, but once you have seen it you will never forget it.

You don't have to get cold to watch, you can sit in your truck with the heat on and watch for as long as you want. The only draw back is, you never know when they are coming out. It is always a mysterious surprise though when they do. You can't ask someone to come visit to see them because you have no idea when they will show up. Sometimes they are concentrated in one part of the night sky and are very bright and other nights the fill the whole sky. Sometimes they move and dance and other times they are stationary, Always a surprise though.

So yeah we are in the ice box of the nation, but nature does some things here that make it worth it. The sun reflecting off the snow is never brighter than up here. Spectacular light shows at night. Night skies where you can see more stars that ever in your life. Full moon nights that are so bright you can walk or cross country ski through the woods. And sometimes ice crystals in the air that make everything look like a rainbow.

Also very few people, quiet as a tomb, and filled with thought time. I like it.

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