Local View: Winter's breaking point has been reached!

From the column: "It’s a question of survival. ... After all, the Donner party ended up eating each other to make it until spring."

Dave Granlund / Cagle Cartoons

Well, it wasn’t a promise of gold but the lure of a near 100-degree difference between the North Shore and Southern California that was too great to ignore. It might be the same sun, but in California it’s much more up close and personal this time of year. And we are almost over the guilt of having turned our backs on a Minnesota winter.

We never thought we’d consider becoming snowbirds and following the gulls and other fair-weather birds to Florida or the Southwest. But such a possibility does creep into conversations with lifelong Minnesotan sons and daughters. Initially, it’s presented as merely being considerate of the family and grandkids, an excuse to be together on a vacation, somewhere different and warm as opposed to being encased in snow and ice like Han Solo in one of the Star Wars’ episodes.

While we don’t want to admit it, age, a fear of slipping and falling, and a need for warmth on old joints encourages us to consider sneaking away after the New Year’s celebration, while it’s still dark, and not come back until we know for sure the ice has gone out.

Dave Granlund / Cagle Cartoons

After a few glasses of wine and assurances that the doors have been locked and shades drawn, even hard-core Canadian types confess that they’ve had it after another long winter. They stare sheepishly at the floor, avoiding eye contact, before admitting they need to be recharged. They, too, crave the freedom of packing lightly with shorts and T’s and being able to leave all the Smart Wools and poly-pros home in drawers.

We do pay a price for such escapism. It’s guilt that comes from wanton pleasure that seems to conflict with Christian values and Catholic upbringing. Can heavenly reward come without ceaseless pain and suffering? Who could simply feel entitled to times of enjoyment and pleasure without at least wearing sackcloth under their bathing suits?


And what about those poor, starving-for-relief Minnesotans who can’t come? Shouldn’t we be giving up our spot on the open-air trolleys to them? It’s what we were taught, that it’s better to give than receive, to stay at home and suffer rather than escape to something that’s comfortable.

But enough of all that self-imposed guilt! We must finally accept that it’s a question of survival, and that survival trumps charity in any winter. After all, the Donner party ended up eating each other to make it until spring in the Sierras, and no one held it against them — not for too long at least.

“You gotta do what you gotta do,” as my dad said. And, more and more, we just gotta get the hell out of here for a while.

Tough winter, this winter of ’22/’23, one that won’t let go.

Somehow, the Big Lake will know we’ve been sleeping around, that we just haven’t merely been tied up with work down in the Twin Cities. Like a spurned lover, she’ll likely vent her anger in a late winter storm that shouts “Revenge!” and run off to be with some sunny, tanned hussy and see what you come home to!

But soon all will be forgiven. The sun will again climb high and reclaim its rightful throne. Grass will emerge, birds will return, and even the steadfast spruce will brighten with new growth. We will return to our beloved deck to watch the sun rise over the Sawtooths. We and the North Shore will be like old friends rediscovering each other. Lovely!

But we will need to start looking for next year’s sun-soaked rental. Winter will be back. After all, this is still Minnesota.

Steven M. Lukas is retired after a career in business and education. He and his extended family divide their time between the Twin Cities and Schroeder.


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Steven M. Lukas

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