Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Out & about on a dangerously cold January weekend in southern Minnesota January 18, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Saturday afternoon in Montgomery, fierce wind whipped this over-sized flag and a light snowfall.

Saturday afternoon in Montgomery, fierce wind whipped this over-sized flag as light snow fell.

BITTERLY COLD. Double digit below zero temperatures. Minus 15 degrees Fahrenheit Sunday and Monday mornings. Dangerous windchills of minus 35 and 45 degrees. Exposed skin that can freeze in 10 minutes or less.

That’s our reality in Minnesota these days as Arctic air settles over our state. It is the topic of conversation. We Minnesotans love to talk about our weather.

Cold enough for you?

Staying warm?

How long is this supposed to last?

With windchills in the minus 20-degree range, Saturday afternoon, these snowmobilers dealt with machine break-down issues in the countryside.

With windchills in the minus 20-degree range Saturday afternoon, these snowmobilers dealt with machine break-down issues in the countryside.

We hole up indoors. Or we embrace the cold. As best we can. On Saturday I observed youth playing hockey outdoors while others skimmed across an adjacent skating rink. I spotted three snowmobilers parked alongside the road after a snowmobile apparently struck a highway sign. I saw vehicles ringing rural bars.

Reduced visibility driving into Montgomery Saturday afternoon.

Reduced visibility driving into Montgomery Saturday afternoon.

Me? I snugged inside the van with my husband, mini quilt across my lap, as we crisscrossed Rice and nearby counties. We just drove, feeling the need to escape reality for an afternoon. Our meandering took us to downtown Lakeville, where we ducked in and out of several home-grown shops.

Since my last visit to New Prague, an antique shop has opened in this former hardware store. The shop holds a large collection of vinyl records and vintage Czech jewelry.

Since my last visit to New Prague, an antique shop has opened in this former hardware store. The shop holds a large collection of vinyl records and vintage Czech jewelry.

Then we aimed west, stopping at a New Prague antique shop before driving toward Montgomery.

I am always struck by how desolate farm sites appear in winter. This one lies between New Prague and Montgomery.

I am always struck by how desolate farm sites appear in winter. This one lies between New Prague and Montgomery.

Sunshine occasionally sliced rays across the white-washed landscape. It is so cold you can see cold in the sun. It is so cold you can hear cold in the crunch of snow beneath tires and boots. And you can certainly feel it in the sting of cold slapping cheeks.

Traveling Minnesota State Highway 13 toward Montgomery Saturday afternoon.

Traveling Minnesota State Highway 13 toward Montgomery Saturday afternoon.

Snow swirled through the wind-driven air near Montgomery, veiling the sky.

The building doesn't look like much from the outside. But step inside Montgomery Brewing Company to find an inviting taproom in an historic building.

This historic building doesn’t look like much from the outside. But step inside Montgomery Brewing Company to find an inviting taproom.

In this Czech community, we stopped for a cold one at Montgomery Brewing Company. You would think on a bitterly cold January day like this, few people would venture out for a beer. But the place was hopping with couples popping in for tap beer, conversation and growlers.

Winter does not stop Minnesotans from riding their bikes. This one was spotted in Montgomery.

Winter does not stop Minnesotans from riding their bikes. I spotted this one in Montgomery Saturday afternoon.

Back to the east in my county of Rice, Faribault’s F-Town Brewing Company offered beer samples at the Snow Crush Fat Tire Race at River Bend Nature Center on Saturday. An after-party followed at the brewery. Had the temperature been warmer, I likely would have been at the race shooting photos. But there’s a limit to what I’ll do in sub-zero/hovering around zero temps.

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FYI: All of these edited images were shot from inside a warm van.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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41 Responses to “Out & about on a dangerously cold January weekend in southern Minnesota”

  1. Almost Iowa Says:

    We are woosies and wisely stayed home.

  2. Yes, we Minnesotans do love to talk about our weather, no matter what it’s doing! Our universal ice-breaker. I can just hear that peculiar sound of icy snow crunching under car tires on a subzero day; that sound was one of my childhood soundtracks. I grew up in a family that never let the weather keep us home. I love that about us!

  3. treadlemusic Says:

    Had we been home, that is where you would have found me! I feel quite chilled even reading this post and am praying for a warming trend (which, I believe, is in the forecast). The roller coaster temps (on the “+” side) are occurring here, also. Friday was 84F and Saturday morning was 45F!!!! Now, I’m not looking for sympathy you understand, but a 40 degree drop is quite something! The furnace is running as I type this.
    “Escapes” take many forms/shapes but the results, hopefully, are the desired ones. Hugs……..

    • A 40-degree temperature change is quite significant. It’s whatever you become acclimated to and I expect you are quickly becoming acclimated to the Texas climate.

      Our Saturday afternoon away was wonderful.

    • Gunny Says:

      Not bragging, just reminded of several places I have been. One location temps were in the 90’s, sun shining, guys were out sunning smelling like fruit salad. By early evening, wind had picked up to about 40- 60 mph winds, overcast skies, temps dropped to the 40’s, Rain started “falling” – actually it was flying by rarely hitting the ground! Temps continued to plummet. At about 2 AM some guys had tried to heat up the inside of their tent and ended up setting it on fire as the snow fell! Had to break the ice to get water to shave with the next morning. By the next afternoon, break out the suntan lotion. Beautiful Southern, California (MCB 29 Palms, CA). SATX is a warm 60 + degrees with mostly clear skies as I write this. Temps are supposed to drop to freezing tonight as unlikely as that seems. I have already put the covers on all the exterior faucets and a droplight to keep my water softener system functioning. Ya’ll stay warm now, ya hear?

  4. Be safe on your travels!

  5. Sue Ready Says:

    Kudos to you for leaving the warmth of your home and getting out. Despite the temperatures there is always something new and interesting surrounding us. Your photos are impressive as you capture perfectly the cold, the fury of the wind and the desolate landscape all from within a van. With sparse text you leave the reader to their own imagination. It is also a reminder to us all living in such a climate we need to be attentive to weather at all conditions.

  6. Brrrr . . . I think back on all the layers I had to put on when days were like this in the “Frozen Tundra”. I woke to a balmy almost 50 degrees at 7 a.m. put on the tank top, light sweater and sandals and headed to work. I so do not miss those bitter cold days where even your nose hair is frozen – ha! – No Thank You!!! Here’s to talking about the weather, asking if your warm enough and having a cold locally made brew 🙂

  7. freidcar77@frontier.com Says:

    The bike belongs to Gary Meyer.  His dad was a bus driver and they owned a resort in Elysian.

  8. Norma Says:

    I can’t even imagine being that cold. We’ve been having temperatures in the mid to high 60’s.. I’m not bragging about it, just mentioning it. I used to like our winters here. I remember the water puddles freezing over. However, if anyone says we aren’t in a warming mode now, I totally disagree. Winter—please come to
    California. I miss you.

  9. I love how you two just drive arouund looking at stuff. Cold is just cold after about Minus Ten i always think. Hope you are warmer now? c

  10. Don Says:

    I feel your pain. I personally will take minus 45 below with no wind as opposed to 15 below with wind chills to minus 35-45. Since we very seldom have any wind here it is possible to dress for negative 45 temperatures and be perfectly comfortable. Wind shows no mercy it just whips through clothing and makes outdoor life miserable. Sorry to bring this up but but over the last couple of weeks temperatures have been hovering around zero to 25 above. It has been a mild winter here!

  11. Littlesundog Says:

    Anytime I get to missing bitter cold and howling winds, I watch the movie, “New In Town”. You are much braver than I am, Audrey. I can’t take the cold much anymore. Although, isn’t it nice to get out with the Mister and go for a drive in a warm vehicle, dashing in and out of places just enjoying the day?

  12. Jackie Says:

    Well I know… that you know…. how much I love winter!!! I’m completely surprised, and a little jealous that you and Randy were out and about enjoying the day with a road trip despite the bitter cold. I thought about a road trip myself but we had some commitments to be home for. Love the photo’s! My Nephew lives in Minneapolis and rides his bike to work everyday all year long, no matter the weather. He (of course) has all the specialized gear. Thanks for sharing your sweet winter excursion.

    • I know this is your season, Jackie. Someone must embrace winter. I used to love winter as a kid.

      Sixty-five racers participated in the fat tire bike race at River Bend on Saturday. We dropped our Christmas tree off there on Sunday afternoon and not a single vehicle was parked in the parking lot.

  13. Marilyn Says:

    Remembering and hoping never again to experience minus temps (and that’s measured in Celsius here). When friends here complain about the cold I just remind them that cold and hot are relative terms. Our cold is your hot.

  14. Sweet Posy Dreams Says:

    Brrr! We’re cold here, but not quite that cold. Our high today was five. When we have these cold, windy days, especially more than one in a row, our boiler can’t quite keep the house warm. Our 1902 wood house is kind of like a sieve. Today I’ve been cold all day, even wearing two polar fleece jackets! I’m ready for a little bit of a warm-up. I’m sure you are too.

  15. Beth Ann Says:

    Getting out and just being “out” helps the soul, doesn’t it? Even if it is cold it is nice to get out and about. The cold is temporary—soon spring will come. Soon.

  16. Sure was cold this weekend. I stayed in and played with yarn. Beautiful pictures. Love your descriptions of winter


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