Thirdeyemom

The Solitude of a Minnesota Winter

“Solitude is the soul’s holiday, an opportunity to stop doing for others and to surprise and delight ourselves instead”. – Katrina Kenison

As I opened my inbox this morning and saw that the topic for the Weekly Photo Challenge was solitude, I could hardly believe my eyes. Ironically, solitude is something I have been spending a great deal of time thinking about the past couple of weeks as the depths of winter carries on.

As I run around my favorite urban lake or walk the dog upon its frozen ice, I am aware of how alone I am as Minnesotans go into their traditional winter hibernation. Only the real diehards like me are out every single day in the cold, and at times it feels bittersweet.

A morning walk on the frozen ice of Lake Harriet with our aptly named dog, Winter.

A morning walk on the frozen ice of Lake Harriet with our aptly named dog, Winter.

Winter is our dog Winter's favorite season. The colder the better!

Winter is our dog Winter’s favorite season. The colder the better!

I miss the movement of people, the voices, and the noise. At times I feel lonely wishing more people would be out like they are on a beautiful summer day. But then I snap out of it and realize there is beauty and strength in solitude. I just need to embrace it. I remember my favorite quote and think of winter solitude differently.

“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer”. –  Albert Camus

The bench Lake Harriet

The bench overlooking the lake on a sunny day.

For me, solitude represents peace. A restful state of mind where I am perfectly at ease with being alone and enjoying it. Being a huge extrovert, it is rare that I find solitude indoors especially when I am alone. It is when I’m outside embracing the beauty of nature, that I truly find it and feel alive. It is when I’m walking, running, skiing or snowshoeing. It is when I’m listening to the sounds of the birds sing. It is feeling the cold sun on my face and realizing that it won’t be much longer until the rebirth of spring arrives. But until then, I must find solitude in the cold, dark days of winter and remember the sun is rising earlier each day.

“He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter”. –  John Burroughs

Winter solitude can be found after a fresh coat of white, pure snow.

Minnehaha Creek

The beautiful Minnehaha creek after a fresh coat of snow.

Lake Harriet Winter Minnesota

Winter can be stunningly beautiful after a big snowstorm. Lake Harriet.

Fun Boots

I love my boots and they are a must have here! For women, boots to the knees are best.

Or it can be found witnessing the steam rising off the lake before it freezes over on a very cold day. (It was -20 zero F on this day and I saw a mere three brave souls but it was worth getting these amazing shots!).

Lake Harriet, Minneapolis, MN

Lake Harriet, Minneapolis Minnesota

And if I must be inside, I can find winter solitude curled up next to a fire at night playing a board game with my daughter and enjoying a glass of red wine. Or curled up in bed reading a book. As I long for spring, I remind myself to not wish my time away and enjoy the last two months of winter’s solitude.

This post was inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitude. 

68 comments

  1. Please, please, please, send us some of that snow!! I’m a mostly-extrovert who relishes, needs, and seeks out solitude. I remember when we lived in Cleveland and had our first rescue dog. She and I were out every single day for long walks. During the cold and snowy winter, we were often the only people/dogs out. 🙂

    janet

    • Ha ha…well some of the snow pictures I used were from a different winter! We had a ton of snow early on and now there is just this icy stuff left. The lake however seems to still have some snow on it. I desperately want more snow! I love snow! Yes, sometimes I do need solitude but a lot of time I like to be around people. I think it is because I have a lot of alone time during the week now that the kids are in school.

  2. hmunro

    I love your images and your meditations on this topic. One of my favorite things about winter in Minnesota is the relative silence — especially after a heavy snow. It sounds silly when I put it in writing, but being alone with nature reminds me that I am a *part* of nature … just another little animal scurrying among the trees. It’s good every so often to remove ourselves from the human world and to immerse ourselves in nature.

    • That is such a beautiful way to think of it! That one is “part” of nature. I love that concept and will think about it a little more tomorrow during my morning walk with the dog. And for the silence, yes that is something that is true. I heard some birds today and it was really nice. Made me smile.

    • Thanks Tina! Well, I’m not sure about that. I struggle with solitude in a way being such an extrovert. But I try my best! 🙂 I do find a lot of peace however in a winter run. Walking however is lonely when no one is out.

    • Thanks so much Emily! Well, it gets very cold here in the Winter so I think a lot of people just don’t want to brave the cold. I just dress in lots of layers and wear my snow pants and keep my face warm. I couldn’t survive without getting out!

  3. I like your solution to this challenge and the last photo of the snow-covered tree by the lake is my favorite. It could be a sunrise or a sunset and neither one would make it any better. Congrats on a stunning image.
    Ω

  4. I adore this post Nicole. Your images and your lovely narrative that takes us full circle on your feelings of solitude are stunning. I enjoy solitude to hear myself think and so this resonated with me very much.
    Awesome. ❤🌟

    • Thanks Di! I am starting to feel burnt out with winter. I embrace it but after a while it gets tough and I can’t wait until everyone is back outside again. So keep sending your beautiful instagram reminders about gratitude. It really helps! 🙂

      • I can imagine the cold winter would become a challenge as time goes on Nicole.
        Our days are getting shorter so I’m sending the sun your way as fast as I can..👌
        Thank you for your kind compliments too… I really appreciate them my friend.
        Di 🌺🌺🦋🦋

      • Thank you Di! Yes, today it is VERY VERY cold but tomorrow it will be about 50 degrees F warmer! Isn’t that crazy? I am tired of the cold. Me and the kids are going to Arizona next week to visit my parents and I can hardly wait!!!!

  5. Pingback: Solitude: Lamp Light | What's (in) the picture?

  6. We live in such a similar climate Nicole. I was tromping about down at the river today taking some photos and it truly looks like we could live next door. Beautiful captures!

    • Yes we do Sue! Problem is we have not had much snow so it has been a bit disappointing. It looks like you have had quite a bit in Calgary (based on all the IG accounts based in Calgary that I follow including yours!).

  7. Thanks for the awesome pictures. Sometimes i do my best thinking and find inspiration when it is just me and nature. It is refreshing to get away from everything and just be by yourself. Thanks again.

  8. Love Love Love the pictures! We moved to Minneapolis a year ago and after seeing about 2 winters now, we seem to be falling in love with this place! Love the snow shining in the bright Minnesota sun! Loved your blog 🙂

    • Thank you! Where do you live in Minneapolis? Where are you originally from? I’ve always been in the Midwest. I especially love our fall and summers here!

  9. ms.aineecbeland

    We’ve been in the throws of snowstorms after storms in Leominster; it is lovely and scary and sad as our cupboard is nearly empty and unsure of next paycheck. Simply sharing difficult times amidst a snowstorm. Take care and thanks for sharing.

  10. I agree with the quote that winter is just as beautiful as summer. It is even more beautiful on the day it snows and flakes are on every tree branch and the smallest twigs. That is breath taking! It only lasts a short time here in PA.

  11. These pictures are amazing. I visited Minnesota a long time ago, but it was summer then. Seeing these beautiful pictures makes me want to go back even more. Thank you so much and lovely greetings from Germany. ❤️

  12. Love the pictures! This year hasn’t been as bad as most when it comes to snow. The deep cold and wind is a totally different story.

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