The things we did last winter

They warned us.

They said we were in for a colder, wetter winter.

But we didn’t believe them. They’ve said the same before and more times than not, they’ve been wrong. Recent winters have been nowhere near as severe as those we remember from our childhoods. And, being Minnesotans, we know that “colder” and “wetter” do not go together.

Except for this past winter. And, quite honestly, even at this late date, despite the calendar telling us that spring has officially arrived and setting our clocks ahead to daylight savings time weeks ago, is the winter of 2010–2011 truly behind us?

If so, what do we remember of an epic winter, one that blew in with heavy snow well before Thanksgiving and threw a technical knockout punch to our beleaguered Metrodome in mid-December? A winter in which we nearly set records for accumulated snowfall, for span of time in which snow cover exceeded 1 inch or more and for coldest recorded temperatures? Do we remember the mornings three blankets and a dog did not keep us sufficiently warm in our beds? The snowfalls in which not one, not two, but three or more shovelings within 24 hours were necessary to keep our sidewalks walkable and our driveways navigable?

We remember it all. And, more importantly, so will our kids. Remembering epic winters provides us with ammunition for the future. It’s what defines Minnesotans. We lived through it. We survived it. We earned the right to talk about it for years to come.

But before it recedes too quickly, we think back to those evenings when we were able to not only push the cold into the far corners of the room, but into the corners of our minds as well. Even more so, those specific days we chose not to ignore the snow and cold, but to embrace them.

Like the day two friends called separately within five minutes of each other to go cross-country skiing. The event turned into an impromptu afternoon party.

Or the frigid midnight I was driving around Lake Harriet with my son, having just picked him up from a friend’s house. The clouds were low, reflecting the lights of Downtown. Near Beard’s Plaisance he asked, “Can we run out to the middle of the lake?”

We pulled over, jumped out of the car, and raced to the lake’s midpoint, one of us feeling like a kid again, the other like an adult. From mid-lake, the view was one neither of us had seen before, with the lights of the shore seeming so far away. We stood there, quietly turning and looking in all directions. At a time when there are too many opportunities for stress between parent and teenager, it was an exceptional moment, and one that, I suspect, will be remembered by both of us for a long time.

Or the evenings with friends over candlelit dinners. Or attending Minneapolis Institute of Art’s Titian show on a Sunday afternoon, reminding us of the warm days of a college trip to Venice so many years before.

Or the day we sat inside Orchestra Hall with thousands of other Twin Citians, warmed by the charisma of Michael Feinstein and the Minnesota Orchestra while yet another winter wind came blowing in.

These events are what got us to this winter’s finish line. And, having done so, we know the daffodils and crocuses will be that much more cherished upon their arrival, the tulips’ colors will gleam a little brighter and the lilacs will smell a little sweeter.

And we will have stories for winter’s evenings to come.

Glenn Miller lives in the Fulton Neighborhood. He is the owner of Miller & Associates, a corporate communications and video production firm (www.glennmillerandassociates.com).