Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Great White North

A lot of the people who read our blog hail from places more temperate and southern in the United States, so the concept of half a year with snow on the ground is quite foreign to a lot of them. And frankly, it was quite foreign to both of us until moving to what I've fondly begun calling The Great White North.

Now, I'm sure people in Canada and Siberia, etc. are shaking their heads at my presumption; however, we've decided that this is the farthest north we'd really feel comfortable living, so it has officially become The North for our purposes.

In case you are wondering where exactly I'm talking about, we live in Minnesota.

We happen to be perfectly placed, for the town we live in is close enough to North Dakota that the edge of town marks a pretty distinct change of environment. The east side of town is full of trees and various lakes, and the roads that drive out east are lined with beautiful greenery interrupted from time to time with pockets of water. When people talk about how beautiful Minnesota is, they mostly mean up there in that northeastern section, but we've got a nice little taste of it over here. The west side of town, however, suddenly begins to slope down into what locals call The River Valley, and the trees just stop. A straggler here and there, but mostly fields of corn with some tree rows to protect the various homesteads.

This means that the snow in town is quiet and beautiful. It falls in sweet, soft piles, making it look like our whole front yard has been covered with the plumpest and most decadent down comforter you can imagine.

This also means that the snow on the edge of town---where all the shopping areas happen to located---has strange lines in it, and it creeps up trees in the strangest way. Sometimes it really looks as if  the snow were an alien blob-like creature that was slowly engulfing the tree. That's the wind for you. Also, windblown snow does not feel like a luxurious down comforter softly pillowing your body. Windblown snow feels, straight up, like sand. Tiny, cold particles of sand, shooting directly into your cheeks if you were foolish enough to forget to wrap your scarf around your face. It hurts!

For example, Levi just e-mailed me to let me know not to venture to the west side of town today. His office overlooks the interstate, and it's often in the direct path of the harshest winds. Today is one of the days that they can't even see the highway because the wind is blowing the snow around so much.

These are the kind of days where it's best to just put on some rubber gloves and scrub your bathroom to the tune of the new Pharrell Williams song.

And it's not going anywhere for at least another month and a half, so in honor of that, I thought I'd share a few pictures with y'all of what we see around town every day!

Here's our front yard. Just look at the snow on the roof! Perfect rounded edges and a smooth covering. You should know that we haven't had a significant snowfall in weeks. If someone doesn't walk through it or drive through it, and if the wind doesn't whip it around, the snow looks like this all the time.

Most of the lakes are frozen here, but this is a really cool part of town. It's actually a sort-of "pool" coming off the river, so it's still and isolated, but it's attached to running water, so it hardly ever freezes. And it's also a bird sanctuary, so if you were wondering what those black shapes were in the middle of the water, those are geese! They just stay here all winter! And sit on the water and the ice. They are hardy creatures, I tell you.

When I took this picture, it was about 10 degrees outside (which means we start saying things like "It's warming up outside" or "It's such a beautiful day!"), but when it's around 20 degrees, the water begins to steam like crazy, which creates the coolest white, frosty residue on the surrounding trees. It really is a pretty place.

Especially compared to this place.

Now, no matter how you might feel about the store parking lot I have pictured, it is the best place in town to show you what the snow piles look like. These piles are the biggest because Wal-Mart has the biggest parking lot, but every single parking lot in town has these piles. They hang out at the back ends, and (especially at our local grocery store) can take up anywhere to a third to half of the available parking spaces.

And that pile will last well into April. Perhaps later. It will slowly begin to melt once the temperature climbs above freezing, and it will turn into a sad, graying lump of old snow. Oh, and it will create a very shallow pool for you to wade through as you trudge from your vehicle to the store.

Hope you enjoyed your short tour around our town! Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to do some housework and some booty shakin'. 

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