One of the best things about living where I do is the wonderful variety of weather. There are four distinct seasons here in Minnesota, and while each certainly has its drawbacks, I’d like to focus on the positive aspects of each.
Let’s go chronologically from the first of the year. January is notorious around here, but I think it’s beautiful. I read somewhere that it’s the sunniest month of the year (November is the cloudiest). I’d take a bitter cold sunny day over a mild dreary day any time (well, most of the time). God could’ve made snow ugly, but I think He gave us its beauty to make winter easier to handle. And while it can get pretty cold here in January, it usually doesn’t last too long. There was a stretch in 1936 where the temperature never once got above zero degrees Fahrenheit for over a month, but I’ve never experienced anything like that.
By the time February comes around, one can feel the change in the air. While it may still be pretty cold, temps gradually start to rise, and if you pay attention, the light starts to look different as the days emerge from the darkest two months of the year. This continues through March, when our hopes for spring grow as we typically get a few tantalizingly warm days.
If I have a least favorite month, it’s probably April. I know I said I was gonna stick to the positives, but April can be downright cruel. One day it’s sixty degrees and glorious; the next it snows. I remember in 2008 we seemed to have a blizzard every weekend, with a doozy the last weekend of the month, which actually closed lots of things down. By this point I’m tired of winter and just want warmth.
But by May those cold, yucky days give way almost entirely to spring. It’s so exciting to see buds start to open up, smell lilacs, and spy the first robin of the year. Another favorite spring experience (usually occurring in March) is the smell of EARTH. It’s amazing how one forgets the smell of wet dirt, and how enchanting it is to re-discover it each year.
Spring around here is often very windy, as winter seems reluctant to give up its dominion, and summer has to fight to return. June can be pretty tempestuous, but by the end of the month, summer finally reigns supreme. There’s almost a violence to the intensity of the green bursting forth as summer dawns. The sky also takes on what I call “That fourth of July look,” which is a happy, fresh, light blue. The days are so long that it’s light by 5:00 a.m., and sunny until after 9:00 p.m. I love it!
July is usually hot (for a Minnesotan) and humid, but whenever it gets real sticky, I just remind myself what’s coming in a few months. Like January’s cold, any hot weather around here usually doesn’t last long. With a well-insulated house surrounded by trees, we don’t have air conditioning, and that’s just fine (although there’s usually a couple days a year when we wish we did).
By August, things have settled down, and while the days may still get plenty warm, the nights usually start to cool off. The wind that wouldn’t quit finally loses its breath, as if caught up in the spirit of the dog days of summer. It’s this month that the light again starts to change, and the green of the trees is dark and rich, but fading. We’re coming to my favorite time of year.
For my money, you just can’t beat September in Minnesota. The days are warm and sunny, while the nights are cool and crisp. The first “frost warning” of the season sends panicked gardeners into action, laying out tarps over their delicate plants in hopes of staving off the coming cold. The deciduous trees turn, usually reaching their peak of colors around the last week of the month. I always wish it could last longer.
October can be anything from a wonderful continuation of September’s beauty to a soberingly premature return of winter. It can be pretty depressing to get measurable snow that month, and not just because annoying people start blaring Christmas music the second it starts snowing. But overall it’s not bad to feel a biting wind, because it feels good to be cozy again, wearing a warm sweater and eating hot soup.
November is brown and dark, but all that sun and warmth wasn’t long ago, so it’s okay. It’s also exciting to look forward to the holidays and the excitement that winter activities can bring. The late afternoon light is weak, but has that “Thanksgiving look,” as we gather to count our blessings.
I still get excited by the first snowfall of the year (even if it IS in October), maybe because it was always so fun as a kid. I love sledding with my kids and playing hockey, which helps make winter more tolerable. The dark days of December are a great time to snuggle up with a book or movie, or to play board games on the floor next to the Christmas tree. And yes, it’s even nice to listen to Christmas music.
There’s a lot to love about Minnesota’s four seasons, but that doesn’t mean I won’t someday want to spend my winters somewhere warm!
I've included some old blogs along with the new. Should you ever find yourself suffering from insomnia, this is the place for you! That's as poetic as I get...