The harsh winters of Minnesota produce a hearty, stoic people. As soon as one is welcomed into the world, they are prepped to endure.
Infants are capped and stuffed into Patagonia fleece complete with hood and built in mittens, placed into a covered stroller that provides shelter from biting winds and whisked off for a walk around a frozen lake or down a snow covered sidewalk.
Toddlers learn to walk and ice skate concurrently. Of course walking isn’t necessarily a prerequisite, true Minnesotans wouldn’t dream of waiting for their toddler to walk before slapping skates on their feet.
Bundling up is an art that is mastered early on. Pre-school children learn quickly that mittens are essential if you want to handle the alluring white matter that can be molded into oh so many shapes. Hats prevent the stinging of ears as you thaw when retreating indoors, and thermal undergarments, doubling socks, and snowpants allow for increased hours of fun outside.
Creativity abounds as older children learn to assert control over the domineering, suppressive substance. Flooding a backyard with water creates a private ice rink, snowbanks can be transformed into houses replete with snow furniture, and of course the vast blanket of snow in your front yard can be sculpted into an exhibit featuring a variety of snow people or animals.
A bounty of winter sports provide the exhaustion every parent longs for to stop their children from pinging around the house when too much time is spent indoors – snowshoeing, downhill skiing, snowboarding, hockey, tubing, figure skating, curling, cross country skiing and more than suitable.
Winters create endurance. Winters are magical.
Until you become an adult.
The beauty of the first snow that silences the sounds of summer and blankets the land with promises of peace is fleeting. Many adults see snow as an enemy to conquer – shoveling driveways and walkways, scraping windshields, white knuckle driving, frigid temperatures and imprisonment only serve to hold us back.
As the months of winter drag on, the ache for color becomes intolerable. We are forced to wait patiently for Winter to say its goodbyes so Spring may release its multitude of colors, ever so appreciative when we spot that first hint of color.
My new home in Kuala Lumpur reminds me of my appreciation and admiration of color. Malaysia’s tropical climate, without fail, offers me a gift of color. In particular, I have developed a close friendship with our resident bougainvilleas. Daily, I’m greeted with hues of pinks, reds and whites round every corner I turn. With a respectful nod, I return their greeting.
I do not miss winter.