On ice

My brother and his wife moved from upstate New York to Phoenix a year ago. As I sit at my desk right now (2:20 p.m. Friday), the temperature in Arizona’s largest city is 66 degrees. Worthington, meanwhile, has a current reading of minus 4 degrees. But … at least the wind has died down.

One week ago this morning, my wife, kids and I left Fargo, N.D., to head back home after spending a couple of days with Bec’s parents. We got in the car shortly before 10 a.m. and saw a reading of minus 31 near the dashboard. I reported the arctic chill on Facebook; hours later, my uncle Steve, who lives Hawaii, posted: “It’s 81 here.”

Steve, you’re not getting a Christmas card next year.

As I and nearly all I visit with gripe about the weather and wonder if we’ll ever be freed from the freezer we’re all trapped in right now, there’s an obvious question I frequently ask: Do I wish I lived in either of those locales?

But, even in the wintertime, the answer isn’t as clear as one might think. Sure, I’d love to spend a few days in southwest Arizona or Hawaii. I’ve never been to the latter state, and my Arizona experience consists of visiting the Grand Canyon at age 9. Living in either place, though? Probably not.Considering I grew up in New York state and now live in the Midwest, the concept of not experiencing four distinct seasons during the year seems an odd one. What would each year be, for instance, without the wondrous feeling of the onset of spring? The summer heat enjoyed by Lake Okabena, or another area lake, while the kids enjoy a playground? The splendor of fall colors? The pure whiteness of new snow?

I’m not nearly the outdoorsman that many, many other Minnesotans are (when it comes to hunting and fishing, that is), so I can’t imagine what I’d miss from those standpoints if I lived elsewhere.

Sure, minus-40 wind chills are awful, and I wish winter didn’t get that extreme around here. Then again, last night, out in those truly frigid conditions, I did some old-fashioned shoveling (my relationship with the snowblower can be a blog in itself). I cleared a good chunk of the driveway so we could get out in the morning, and also shoveled out part of my neighbors’, who are out of town. Talk about a sense of accomplishment! In fact, most work outdoors seems to take the following pattern: dread, acceptance of responsibility, enjoyment of work and solitude, a gradual eagerness to finish and a final pride in what’s been done.

I’d be lying, though, if I said I wouldn’t take pride in a trip to warmer climes this winter. Considering that’s unlikely, I anxiously await a return to tropical-like highs in the mid-20s next week.

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