With February just a few days away, we've reached the midpoint of our trek through another Minnesota winter.
It is at this point in the season that I usually begin to long for warmth and dirt in which to dig. But a recent experience with a winter appreciator was cause for pause.
Mitch, my nurse one afternoon at Mayo's Infusion Therapy Center, happened to share a bit about how much he likes to cross country ski.
"Oh, I love it," he said. "I can't get enough of it. It's the best. I love to just be out there in nature." He said he has no problem being outside even when it's only 5 degrees.
It was immediately after that conversation that I realized something: Some people actually adore winter!
"I must talk to more people like Mitch! I must interact with more winter appreciators! Maybe it will rub off on me," I whispered to myself.
So I reached out to the staff of Tyrol Ski and Sports. It seemed like a good starting point since they specialize in all things winter.
Kristin Welch, one of the store's owners, expressed her deep appreciation for both downhill and cross county skiing. Like Mitch, she, too, had a contagious enthusiasm. She said, "You don't have to do anything extreme to enjoy winter. With the right clothing, footwear, and accessories to keep hands and toes warm, winter can be enjoyed by just going out for a walk. It has such a unique beauty compared to the other seasons. And when experienced through all of your senses, it reminds you that you're alive."
Aren't her words powerful? Thanks for the perspective, Kristin!
Enthused by such great guidance from Kristin and the other team members at Tyrol, I decided to reach out to the staff of the Hormel Nature Center in Austin. They, too, had a lot of nice things to say about winter.
Will Bjorndal, the new naturalist intern at the nature center, said, "In my opinion, the best way to learn to love the cold Minnesotan winter is to enjoy winter-specific activities that get your body moving. Even in single-digit weather, one can warm up pretty quickly out on a brisk ski."
He added, "Still not convinced of the pluses of frigid weather and heaps of snow? Just remember that hot chocolate and coffee objectively taste five times better if you can't feel your toes."
Well, the offer of extra tasty hot beverages is motivation enough for me.
His teammate at the Nature Center, naturalist Maria Anderson, reflected, "I get it — I didn't like winter until I learned to ski. Having a good reason to get out in the brisk fresh air wakes you up and makes you feel alive!"
Welch and Anderson both referenced a connection between winter and feeling alive. I usually just consider winter a season to hibernate like a bear. But instead of feeling inspired to sleep for three months, there are people who actually feel MORE alive during the winter. How novel!
On the search for more winter guidance from friends, I posted a note on social media and ended up receiving responses from folks around the globe about what they like most about the colder months of the year. I wrote a special blog post about it that contains all their snowballs of wisdom, and you can read it at www.holyeverything.com. You'll also have access there to more thoughts and advice from the Tyrol staff and the team at Hormel Nature Center.
As it turns out, a lot of people relish winter. The season feels nothing like a chore to them. Instead, they think of it like a beautiful present.
Their insights offered a lovely reframing of this time of the year. So to Mitch the Nurse and all other people who openly share about your love of winter activities, keep expressing your enthusiasm. You never know who you might inspire next.