Life in a Freezer Box: Finding Beauty in a Polar Vortex

Today for the second time since the start of January, lovely picturesque Minnesota has fallen into the land of the icebox cold: A Polar Vortex. Although I have lived in the Midwest all of my life save a year in France, I have never heard of the term “polar vortex” before. Curious, I looked the word up and got this definition: “a whirlpool of frigid, dense air often referred to as a polar cyclone.

It feels like a bad dream.  Just a couple of weeks ago we were locked in some of the coldest, bone-freezing temperatures we have ever experienced here in Minnesota with some lows hitting an insane -55 below zero F. Schools were closed for two days while we hunkered down and stayed inside. As Minnesotans, we are hearty but only to a point.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and here we are again with an air temperature this morning of -16 F and wind chills peaking around -35-45 F. School was canceled yet again for a third day since the new year. Tomorrow a huge warm up covers the land with snow and temperatures reaching a balmy 30 degrees F. Then that mean, vicious polar vortex comes back to town with temperatures predicted to be a high of -10 F. This is the kind of weather that makes history and also makes us Minnesotans strong. For how else could we live here in such an extreme climate? My answer: Find beauty.

frost on windows

Taking a look out my bathroom window, it is covered in brilliant diamonds of frost.

Although the cold winter so far has kept me indoors more than usual, I try to focus on the beauty from inside looking out. I’ve become fascinated with all the varying patterns of frozen frost across my windows each day.

Frost on window

One thing that has been gorgeous about this cold weather is the beautiful frost on my windows. I can see a million different patterns inside each flake.

Frost on window Polar Vortex

“March on. Do not tarry. To go forward is to move toward perfection. March on and fear not the thorns, or the sharp stones on life’s path”.  – Kahil Gibran 

Frost on windows Polar vortex

Frost on windows Polar Vortex

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” – Marianne Williamson

Playing in the snow.

The key to surviving a Minnesota winter is embracing the warm days we have and soaking in the sunshine and snow.

Playing in the snow.

My little snow princess.

“Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it”. – Roald Dahl

Ice votives

The gift: Dozens of handmade ice votives lined the creek near my house to light up our souls.

Ice votives

Rest assured….it will warm up soon. Until the next polar vortex comes are way.


  1. Wow. These pictures are inspiring, beautiful, mesmerizing… I love your take on this type of situation! Life is a beautiful dance that we are lucky enough to take place in, and I love that you take a difficult situation in stride, find the beauty in it, and then share that beauty with whoever is around. Kudos to you. I’m looking forward to following your posts! I just created my blog yesterday, I hope you will check it out. 🙂

    • Thanks! It is cold again here so it is once again an ice box. But the sun is shining strong. I will check out your blog. Good luck! Blogging is a wonderful, wonderful outlet. 🙂

  2. It looks like frozen feathers. I hope it warms up for you soon. I am in Helsinki on the way home to Australa for a while and it is minus 14 C here. I think it is fun for a day or 2, but I’m not sure I would like to live in it.

    • It has been unbearably cold. Today again school is canceled and it is freezing. But what can you do? Minnesota really is a beautiful place and this is unusual weather. We are here so I make the best of it but I love being outside and someday would love to be in a warmer climate! 🙂

  3. Beautiful patterns… I can’t imagine how you would feel with all these ice and snow around.

    I had seen these sort of crystals only inside a refrigerator 🙂

    • Ha Ha….I have been in India in May and it was so hot I couldn’t believe it. I have never been somewhere so hot before. I am sure you would freeze if you came here!

    • Thanks Lucy! This is the first winter I ever remember having so much ice on our windows as it has been the coldest I remember. It is FREEZING again. I’m going stir crazy. But oh well. It makes you stronger I guess.
      Yes, the ice sculptures all 50 of them were made and placed along the creek! They were light up with candles at night and it was stunning! Max and I took a walk down there before bed a few weeks back when it was warmer and it was so pretty. It is supposed to warm up on Wednesday and I’m sure to be outside, perhaps snow shoeing! 🙂

      • It sounds wonderful for photography but unbearable for living! I don’t think I’d cope well with those temperatures and being stuck inside all the time. The candlelit ice sculptures sound gorgeous though! Snow shoeing sounds fun! I’ve not done many winter sports and activities but would like to try some. I hope you get outside soon, Nicole and with those snow shoes on!

  4. Beautiful shots of the frost and ice lanterns. It reminds me of growing up in Northern Wisconsin and Minnesota and all the fun winter activities we did (like blowing bubbles and watching them freeze!).

  5. I love the patterns that Jack Frost leaves on glass. Your snow princess is so adorable. There is so much beauty to bee seen in icy weather if one is hardy enough to venture outside. 🙂

  6. The ice crystals are truly unique, Nature’s art play….I am also struggling with this long hard winter, here in the Appalachian Mountains of VA. However, I realized, I was able to take pictures almost every day and they all show some unique aspects of winter – so at leat my creativity isn’t suffering! I am hoping that Ground HOg Day will be promising this year!

    • Thanks LuAnn! looks like you’ve had your own share of cold in Florida. It never seems to end here. Two more days of sub zero weather and we have already had 5 days of school canceled due to extreme weather since January 1! Crazy.

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