Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Cold enough for you? January 22, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:30 AM
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I SWITCHED ON the television around 7 a.m., prompted by my husband’s announcement that many Minnesota schools are opening late this morning due to bitterly cold temperatures.

School announcements from a Twin Cities television station scroll across my TV screen this morning.

School announcements from a Twin Cities television station scroll across my TV screen this morning.

From north to south, east to west, arctic air has settled into our state, making for dangerous conditions. According to the National Weather Service office in Chanhassen:


I always wonder why the Weather Service prints its warnings in all caps. To emphasize the seriousness of the weather situation?

That aside, if you live in Minnesota, you know it’s cold here. The temp in Faribault was minus nine degrees F when I awoke. Many counties, including my county of Rice, are under a wind chill advisory. Up in International Falls, the self-proclaimed “Icebox Capital of the World,” the wind chill was reported at minus 38 degrees F.

On brutally cold mornings like this, many Minnesota students are hoping for late school starts or closings. With three kids (now grown), I’ve stationed myself many a winter morning in front of the television watching for “Faribault” to scroll across the bottom of the screen.

More school closings on another Minnesota TV station.

More school closings on another Minnesota TV station.

It’s interesting to watch that list of names, learning about places and schools I never knew existed, like Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School. This morning I looked up the school online. It’s a magnet school for 200 Native American students living on or near the Leech Lake Reservation in north central Minnesota. Operated by the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, the school is located in the forest outside of Bena, population 109, between Bemidji and Grand Rapids.

Unless I missed it on the school’s website, I couldn’t find a translation of the school’s name, which so intrigues me.

Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School lists its values as love, respect, humility, wisdom, bravery, honesty and truth. That’s an admirable list.

But students there won’t be learning today as the school is closed.

Switching from school closings to the weather, I listened to a report on “Good Morning America” about the cold weather sweeping the nation with wind chill advisories issued in 19 states.

And, as I listened, I jotted down some of the phrases used to describe current weather conditions:

arctic air
dangerous cold from Midwest to East
howling polar winds
blizzard conditions along parts of Lake Michigan
bitter wind chills in places like Fargo, North Dakota

Good morning, readers. How would you describe the weather where you live today?

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


33 Responses to “Cold enough for you?”

  1. cecilia Says:

    We are both discussing the weather today.. and I think that you send me yours.. so i had better prepare for it to get even colder.. poo.. I was hoping you were going to send me something above freezing. We are very cold, Zero at milking time, minus 3 by the time we got back in but no wind, the wind is the killer… c

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I haven’t hopped over to your Illinois farm yet, Cecilia. I know these brutal mornings can make farming a challenge. If I could stop the wind and cold from crossing the border to your place, I would. I totally agree about the wind being the killer.

  2. Erin Says:

    I also scrolled thru the school cancellation and late start list this morning. No late start for Sartell. I work from home and although it can be lonely and isolating, it’s days like this that I’m thankful I don’t have to go outside.
    It’s interesting that you saw the tribal school. My dad is a teacher at Nay-Ah-Shing on Mille Lacs Indian Reservation. I don’t even know what that means and he’s taught there for over twenty years! You’ve got me intriqued! I will ask him tonight and also see if he knows what the other school stands for. I believe they are both Ojijwe. They have culture classes and are taught the language as well. I know he has learned a lot of their language over the years.
    Perfect day to play FREEZE dance with the kids!
    Stay warm!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Ditto from me on being thankful I work from home on bitterly cold days like this one.

      Yes, if you find out from your dad what those Ojibwe words mean, please stop back and share. I typed the name of the school into the school’s online language translator, but nothing popped up.

      • Erin Says:

        Nay-Ah-Shing (Mille Lacs Indian Reservation) means Point on Water.
        Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig (Leech Lake Indian Reservation) means Hole in the Day. I was able to find this info on their school’s website: The school was named in honor of Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig (Hole in the Day), a local Ojibwe who lived in that area at the turn of the century. As Eddie Benton Banai shared at the school’s naming ceremony, “he fought for our land, he fought for our people, but uppermost, he fought for the future of our children.”

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        Thank you most kindly, Erin, for doing that bit of research. I don’t know where you found it on the Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig website, but you’re a way better Nancy Drew than me. I’ve heard of Hole in the Day. I really like how both names reflect the Ojibwe culture and history.

  3. Clyde of Mankato Says:

    Cold, but this is Minnesota, folks. get over it. I am about to walk 1/2 mile to the eye doctor, which you would think means certain death. We have grown silly.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I’ve been waiting for a comment like this from a Minnesotan. And I do think you’re right. Enjoy your walk, Clyde.

  4. Amy Says:

    I would describe it as “the dog is staring at me with big sad puppy-dog eyes because she didn’t get a walk yesterday and now she’s trying to make me feel guilty enough to walk her today and she’s almost succeeding, until I look at the current weather.” How’s that?

  5. treadlemusic Says:

    Society has become such a voracious consumer of instant, of-the-moment “news” and seems to require accurate weather forecasts before deciding what direction their day will take!!!! Really??? -14F this a.m. here……so????….put on those mitts, a warm jacket (no, not just a hoodie!!!), maybe a hat, too!?! It’s what happens when the Age of X-Box is the time we live in!! DH and I have been having such conversations of late! Have a great, “normal” MN day!!! Hugs, D

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Great advice to dress appropriately and deal with it (the weather, I mean).

    • Clyde of Mankato Says:

      I did as a child in the 1950’s work all day in the woods on days much colder than this in NE MN. But WORK is a key part of that. And we did walk 3/4 of a mile to the bus each way, and then wait for the bus, in weather colder than this. And it was uphill both ways–and downhill, since it was up and over a steep hill. -9 and light winds would have been a piece of cake. And the weather has much moderated. In 1974 we went 32 days in a row on the North Shore when it never got above zero. School was held ever day and only started late twice and that was because of strong winds with the -20’s.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        Likewise, I don’t recall school starting late due to cold when I was growing up. But I do remember one winter when I was in junior high and the snow was so deep, the roads so bad, that we could attend school only if we could get into Vesta for the bus ride to Redwood Falls. The buses would not go out of Vesta onto country roads. So my brother and I would climb onto the John Deere for the half-mile or mile (don’t know which) ride into town with our dad. No cab on the tractor either. From there we boarded the bus for the 20-mile ride along Highway 19 to Redwood. I remember the Redwood teachers always being mad at us Vesta kids for being late. Like we could help it.

        But that story doesn’t even begin to match yours. I do think we Minnesotans in general have become weather wimps. Dare I write that?

      • Clyde of Mankato Says:

        In 1968-69 school year west central MN was hit by so many snowstorms that some schools held graduation at the end of June to make up the days. Was that the year you are remembering?

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        Yes, that would be the school year. You have a better grasp on dates than me.

      • Clyde of Mankato Says:

        I have a terrible memory for when things happened, unlike my wife, unless they align with something. !968-69 was my first year of teaching school, the only year I taught in Lindstrom, now Chisago Lakes. Every morning WCCO would read a long list of school closings, to the point that Maynard Speece and Charlie Erickson got very sick of it. The storms never quite got to the Chisago area, but one morning Speece and Erickson accidentally closed our school. My wife and I went to school and only about a dozen other people showed up. We had not heard the error the one time they said it but everyone else did. It was funny. That’s why I can pin that to a year.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        What a story about the school closing that was not supposed to be. Clyde, you always make me smile.

  6. Brrr! You’ve got us beat. Here in northern Illinois it was 1 degree at 7:00 and is now up to 5. Too cold to take our usual morning walk on the bike path. The path runs along a small river through a wide open field where the wind just keeps on coming. I don’t mind a little cold, but the wind can be tough.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Having grown up on the windy southwestern Minnesota prairie, I totally understand that “it’s the wind.” Our high today is supposed to be around five degrees, I think.

  7. Jackie Says:

    Call me weird….call me crazy, I find this weather rather refreshing! Yesterday I wore a sweater and even zipped it up, and this morning I wore mittens when I went out to run an errand. If I were to go for a walk I would probably bundle up, because the walk from the parking lot into hyvee was about my limit. I’m just a hot blooded kind of girl.( -10 here in Roch this morning)

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I am a hot-blooded girl only indoors. But then in the snap of a finger, I’ll be cold. Well, I think you may just understand that issue.

      I know how much you love winter. And I expect if there was more snow, you’d really be thrilled with today’s weather. Thanks for the report from Rochester.

  8. Brrrr!!! Do not miss that kind of cold – where everything is covered and still painful to be outside for a few seconds. Stay Warm:)

  9. Amy Says:

    So we live in northern Minnesota. Not quite in the “Icebox Capital of the World,” but close! We have been playing with 0 for a week. We decided to get a puppy this week. That was a dumb idea. We don’t want to go outside? What makes a puppy, who has never seen winter before, want to go to do his business outside when it is -10 without windchill! And the power went out yesterday….oh goodie! It’s back up now, but it could be two weeks before they get the correct parts to fix the substation for this side of town, so the power could go out again………. My Californian husband has gotten a brutal “warm up” to a Minnesota winter this year 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Oh, Amy, have you forgotten what winter in Minnesota can be like when we have a “real” winter?

      But then I had forgotten that Jon grew up in California. Marc (CA. native also) recently remarked that it was a good thing he had not visited Minnesota in winter or he may not have moved here. I don’t quite believe him.

      Having no power, especially in brutal cold like this, can be a challenge. But then you have that puppy to distract you, right?

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