Saturday, January 25, 2014

Living Near Mars

I've had the good fortune to live in a lot of different parts of the country without being confined to an Army base. Everywhere else was south of St. Louis Park, where I grew up (although Northfield was merely 40 miles south).

Whether living elsewhere, or visiting, I regularly field the question "How do you survive the winters in Minnesota?" My pat response is to describe Venus as being too hot to be habitable, Mars as being too cold and Minnesotans as residing just this side of Mars' survival zone. I may need new material.

Reports from Northern Minnesota this winter suggest that air temperatures are lower than the temperature on the surface on Mars. While there's been some quibbling about the accuracy of the claims, let's not sweat the small stuff. It is miserably cold out.

Here's how cold. I'm getting calls from all over asking if we're okay, typically from friends and family experiencing a 100 degree temperature differential.

My brother Jordan, who lives in Connecticut, called me at 6:50 a.m. this morning from the Bahamas. He'd seen the weather reports and wanted to check in. His timing resulted from assuming that I'd be up early on a Saturday morning tending to the horses. It didn't occur to him that, were that true, I probably would not have removed and/or rummaged through insulated coveralls, a sweatshirt, a long sleeve shirt, insulated jeans, flannel pajama pants, two pairs of socks, insulated boots, insulated gloves (worn inside mittens), a neck warmer and a ski mask to answer the phone and take his FaceTime call.

My blood-brother Bruce called several times from Los Angeles last night, concerned about the cold and that he couldn't reach me. Bruce hasn't lived in Minnesota since 1964 or so. His first assumption when he can't reach me is that I'm frozen mid-step between the office and the parking ramp. He inadvertently taunts me, as if the impatience is one-sided, by telling me that he can't wait to see me in March when I travel to L.A. for a national credit union directors' conference.

My father, who, thankfully, mailed me his no longer needed insulated jeans last fall, called from Yuma when he saw the weather reports. Normally, I describe Yuma as some Godforsaken good-for-nothing middle-of-nowhere senior holding pond. However, after observing the horses' breath float through the air in the barn this morning, it occurred to me that God forsakes no one and that there's a reason Dad no longer needs the insulated jeans.

We'll survive. I'm too old now to be one of those "Look at me! I'm riding a fat tired bike on the frozen lake!" guys. Or, at least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Those cyclists are nuts. I'm inside, pondering, enjoying our new Keurig coffee maker, enjoying the quiet calm of the Independence countryside, disturbed only by Deb's proficiency with the snow-blower.


Molly Stern said...

Called to make sure you're not "frozen mid step between the parking ramp and the office," Is pretty hilarious! Glad you're not frozen solid anywhere. "Hey Deb, I'm trying to write, keep that snowblowing noise down!"

Charles Leck said...

Remarkably good blog, Sam. I am hiding out this morning in my tree-top office, trying to get up the courage to go out to shovel the walk in front of the house. I'll get'er done soon here, but for the moment I'll read a few more blogs and procrastinate as long as I possibly can. Paul Douglas' comments in paper this morning were awfully good.