I used to think I didnâ€™t mind the winter.
But this winter is quickly changing my mind.
This is my fifth winter in Minnesota. Already I think thereâ€™s been more snow than the previous four combined. This isnâ€™t merely a harsh winter â€” for the past two months I would argue that the state has been downright uninhabitable.
I was tired of it by mid-December, but unfortunately it isnâ€™t going away anytime soon.
Of all things to do during this brutal, inhospitable winter, on Jan. 15 I decided to jump into Lake Okabena.
Consider it an act of defiance.
Yes, jumping in the lake was absolutely bone-chilling, and the 61 people who jumped in as part of the second annual Deep Freeze Dip and all the people who came to watch were subjected to a painful experience.
But for the first time all winter, I actually didâ€¦ something.
Iâ€™m sure Iâ€™m not the only one who has spent the winter doing my best impression of a sloth, bundling up under a duvet pretty much every second that Iâ€™ve been in my apartment.
But this hasnâ€™t made withstanding the winter any more bearable.
Jumping into the lake didnâ€™t make it any more bearable either, but by actually spending some time outside and engaging in physical activity I overcame my fear of the cold and for the first time, I embraced it.
Herein lies the key to maintaining oneâ€™s sanity during the long, punishing winter â€” every now and then, simply ignore how miserable itâ€™s making you.
Better yet, find a way to make it not feel miserable at all.
This last suggestion is tough. There are a number of winter activities that Minnesotans have engaged in over the years, but there are various obstacles to pursuing most of these.
For one thing, pursuing any sort of outdoors activity means braving the cold.
Luckily, we have adapted as a species to be able to exercise indoors, whether inside a gymnasium, in an indoor heated pool, a gym or a giant, domed stadiumâ€¦
Well, there are some problems with that last one.
The problem is that you can participate in these activities any time of the year. There comes some mild satisfaction in knowing that huge piles of snow everywhere donâ€™t have to get in the way of your exercise routine, but by being inside, youâ€™re still hiding from winter.
But again, we come to the issue of the cold. And even if youâ€™re able to brave the cold, taking up a winter sport isnâ€™t something that can usually be achieved overnight.
There are winter sports such as ice fishing, snowmobiling or skiing, but all three of these for the most part require a sizable financial investment. Jumping in a frozen lake wonâ€™t cost you anything, but I wouldnâ€™t recommend making a habit of it.
The beauty of taking up a outdoors winter sport â€” although being huddled up in a warm ice house makes ice fishing a borderline member of this club â€” is that it undeniably gives you the feeling that you are not only standing up to your fear of winter, but conquering it.
I recently entered myself in the City of Lakes Loppet on Feb. 6, a big cross-country ski race in Minneapolis. I donâ€™t even have skis yet, but Iâ€™ll be making that investment before the race.
This may just be an act of desperation after being caged up with very little physical activity all winter, or it could be that my Norwegian blood is getting the best of me. Possibly the Deep Freeze Dip has caused a short-circuit in my brain.
I will be posting on this blog after the race to let you know how successful my new-found cross-country ski hobby has turned out for me in solving my fear of winter.
This post isnâ€™t meant to be a lecture, or a way to inspire the masses to follow my lead. But if after reading this you become interested in finding out how you personally can make the best of the rest of the winter ahead â€” short of jumping into the lake â€” the more power to you!