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.

Lake Harriet Winter Minnesota

The Art of Surviving a Minnesota Winter

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

Anyone who lives in the Midwest or who has ever traveled to the northern quarters of the country, know for a fact that winter in Minnesota can be brutal. It is often a test of endurance, patience, humor, semi-hibernation and mental strength to survive it especially when it happens to be a winter like we are having this year. Countless days well below zero, dangerously cold, bone-chilling wind. Snow. Black ice on the roads. Days upon end where it never even reaches freezing. This has been one heck of a winter so far and it isn’t even half way over.

Lake Harriet Winter Minnesota

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

So how on earth do we survive it? With skill, perseverance and conquering the power of the mind. That is how. Here are my top ten tips to surviving an extreme winter (Warning: Over 20 degrees farenheit for a low doesn’t count. We’re talking endless days below zero!).

brilliant yellow flower

Searching for color in a colorless sky

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky”.- Rabindranath Tagore

It has been one of the coldest January’s on record and we have been housebound again. As I look outside my windows at the pure white snow, I long for color. I dream of spring when the world comes to life again and the earth is reminding us of the beauty of life. The virgin green foliage, the violet lilacs, the buttery yellow daffodils. I know, I’m dreaming as spring is still a long ways away. So instead, I thought I’d create some color to inspire my mind and bring you some life.

brilliant yellow flower

White tropical flower

Although I’m tired of white, I can never tire of a beautiful white flower like this one in Honduras.


A snowy day


The Snowy Day is a 1962 children’s picture book by American author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats. Keats received the 1963 Caldecott Medal for his illustrations in the book. It features a boy named Peter exploring his neighborhood after the first snowfall of the season. The inspiration for Peter came from a Life magazine photo article from 1940, and Keats’ desire to have minority children of New York as central characters in his stories. Source: Wikipedia. 

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Living in a Winter Wonderland

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” 
― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

Ok…I said I was done posting but what can I do? Nature has serendipitously dropped a brilliant white wet snowstorm on us and it is magical outside. After gearing up the kids and putting on my snowshoes, I headed to my lovely lake and snapped away. It was utterly breathtaking outside.

We spent the rest of the afternoon reliving my youth by sledding down our neighborhood hill and throwing snowballs. It was a delightful day!


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An afternoon snowshoeing around the frozen falls

Yesterday was a gorgeous winter day here in Minneapolis.  The sun was shining brightly, launching its powerful, magical rays across the glittering white snow-packed ground.   The birds were chirping cheerfully and it was unseasonably warm.  Almost 40 degrees F which is considered balmy in Minnesota (if it is above 20 in January or February, we are considered lucky).  It was the first morning in a long time that I woke up and literally sprang out of bed to the call of my children greeting me “Mama.  Mama.  Maaaaaaa-maaaa!”  I instantly opened their bedroom shades and jumped with joy.  Yeah!  The sun is here!  I was so happy to see my long lost friend.

My kids thought I was a bit crazy but they don’t understand my need for sunshine and vitamin D.  It is said that most people living in northern climates are highly insufficient of vitamin D in the winter months.  This can lead to intense fatigue (check), lethargic behavior (check) and sometimes depression (hmm….I have been feeling a bit blue).  In winter months, our days are short and the nights are long.  Although it can be quite sunny in the winter, the sunshine often brings bitter cold forcing you to hibernate and be trapped inside your home staring longingly outside your window wishing for spring.

Yesterday was different.  Not only was the sun shining brightly, but our typical January thaw had arrived!  For a few days we would get this nice warm weather (you know I’m from Minnesota when I’m calling 40 warm!).  Thus, I decided to take advantage of the day and spend as much time outside as possible.  The morning started with a run around the lake and in the afternoon, I took my daughter snowshoeing by the Minnehaha Falls.

Here are some pictures of what we saw at the falls which freezes into a magical display of ice during the winter.

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