As I sit down to write this column on a Sunday afternoon at home, the wind is whipping up the freshly fallen snow and the small, young tree in front of my townhome shakes ever so slightly.
A Midwestern winter can be truly picturesque. My favorite room in the house where I grew up was the sun room that sat near the base of the bluffs in Prairie du Chien, Wis. Whenever I got the chance I would admire the view and think about the week ahead.
So winter does have its positives, which is why I will always live in the Midwest. I loved visiting Florida a couple of years ago in November, but I have been there in the summer and one week of that humidity was too much for me. One of my friends has talked about wanting to live in California, but the prospect of living through a big earthquake keeps me in a place where I know the ground will not shake.
I am a person who loves variety and the changing seasons give me that.
During the winter, I love to go sledding or have a cup of hot cocoa or tea while reading a book or watching college basketball or a movie.
By the time spring rolls around, I am more than ready for summer. As I watch the snow slowly melt away and the flowers start to blossom and the trees grow their leaves back, my spirits lift up thinking about a fun summer ahead.
Summer is my favorite time of year in Minnesota and unfortunately it never lasts as long as I would like. What brings me the most happiness is being with friends on the lake or sitting outside around a fire pit on a camping trip.
My second favorite season is fall because of the sight of the leaves changing color, going to the apple orchard and going to a haunted house or haunted trail with friends.
The winter is the toughest time of the year for me despite the occasional enjoyment of the scenery. It is when I feel down the most because the nights are so long. I hate driving in the winter because of the fear of hitting a random patch of ice or getting my small, low-riding Mazda stuck in the snow.
What keeps me in the Midwest is friends and family. This is the time of year that I start to plan ahead for my bigger summer trips. I don’t have every weekend planned out of course, but I have a list of fun things to do.
I know that I will be heading to Wisconsin Dells, Wis., one weekend, although that may happen in mid-May before the summer starts. My friends who lived in Providence, R.I., recently moved to a large acreage property in the Upper Peninsula in Michigan that is next to a lake with a private beach. Another friend has a cabin a couple of hours northwest of the Twin Cities that we will probably go to once or twice.
I will want to see my family. My sister is already planning to visit me this summer, possibly during the Irish Festival weekend in St. Paul.
I like to go camping at least once a summer and preferably twice if my schedule is open and the weather cooperates. I will go to a camping spot close by such as Kathio State Park near Mille Lacs Lake or somewhere along the St. Croix River. My second trip would be farther away such as the Gunflint Trail in northern Minnesota. If you have not taken the time to drive the North Shore in the summer between Duluth and Grand Marais, you are missing out.
The summertime is normally the busiest time of year for work weekend assignments because of community festivals. This is a great time to catch up with people I know or to meet new people in a festive atmosphere. These are also the most photogenic events.
The only downside of weekend assignments is they keep me in town for a weekend when I could otherwise be traveling and enjoying the limited summer weekends.
Thankfully there are enough lakes and great bike trails for me to enjoy the great outdoors when I’m at home in the Twin Cities.
Winter is beautiful in its own way, but I am looking forward to green grass replacing the white snow and substituting the howling wind for the sound of birds chirping.