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Judy Spooner: 'To Tech Support: about winter in Minnesota'

Tonight was the second time cold weather made the national news. There were cold weather records falling in northern Minnesota with 42 degrees below zero reported in International Falls. Did we here in Minnesota get any attention? No, but there was a report from Chicago about people suffering because it was 2 degrees below zero.

Are they kidding us?

At 2 degrees below zero, we here in Minnesota, also known as Cold Country, don't even bother with scarves. People in "the falls" would tell you: "it's a bit warmer today."

Last fall, while on our usual visit to Chapel Hill, N.C. with Karen and Steve, I met a woman who asked me how we cope with being so cold all the time.

I tried to explain to no avail.

Now, when I meet anyone with similar questions, I refer them to my pretend Winter Technical Support Department where all questions are answered. Here is one of my mythical inquiries.

Dear Tech Support: My husband has been transferred to Minnesota and we have never been north of Jackson, Miss. What do Minnesotans do when it gets below zero in January? How deep does the snow get?"

Southern Mom

Dear S.M.

There are only two temperatures this time of year, "cold" and "darned cold."

Most Minnesota families have a vast array of winter duds that include heavy jackets, gloves, mittens, scarves, hats and boots in closets by the doors to their garages.

When it's darned cold, we go to the closet and put on all of the above.

On the night before trash collection, you are advised to get into a flannel nightgown and robe early in the evening so you can hand off getting trash containers to the curb to another family member who is still wearing shoes.

When we believe we are going to be snowbound for days, we head to the grocery store and stock up on chips, dips, pop, doughnuts, cake and cookies and go the video store to pick up movies so we'll have something to do while we are marooned.

The truth is that we are not stranded here when it snows. There are many snowplows and you will only be delayed for an hour or so.

We use this as an excuse to eat stuff that is bad for us and stay in front of our gas or wood fireplaces.

There are lots of things to do here in the winter including ice fishing, hockey and cross-country skiing. You might see these activities in tourist promotions, but most of us stay inside when the temperature goes below 15 degrees above zero.

You and your husband might like ice fishing but it's not about catching fish. People go to fish houses on lakes that have heaters and television sets. Many adult beverages are consumed and you can always go to a nearby casino to warm up.

If you have a dog, you will have to negotiate terms for taking it outside. Bribes of money to children and hot cocoa for husbands work well. Bring warm clothes.

Sincerely, Tech Support

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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