Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Fashionably cold in Minnesota January 4, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Along a gravel road somewhere between Nerstrand and Kenyon, Minnesota.

Along a gravel road somewhere between Nerstrand and Kenyon, Minnesota. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo March 2014.

WHILE ROAD-TRIPPING FROM MINNESOTA to Massachusetts last May, I found myself defending my home state. Apparently non-residents have a singular impression of Minnesota. And that would be “cold.”

Back then, when spring was emerging green and beautiful here, I assured non-residents that Minnesota is about much more than cold weather.

But today I can’t argue with the cold assessment as arctic air settles into Minnesota, plunging temperatures to the single digits above zero. Thank you, Canada, for kicking the cold out your front door toward your neighbor’s property.

When my cheeks started hurting and flaming red, I added a second scarf.

Me bundled up several years ago for two hours of ringing bells for the Salvation Army in arctic cold. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Fortunately, Minnesotans know how to handle the frigid temps. Along with complaining, we bundle up. At least I do. Fashion isn’t nearly as important to me as warmth. Gone are the days of caring whether a stocking cap will flatten my hair or whether my Northwest Territory boots are in style. Warmth trumps appearance.




Yet, apparently you can be “cute and cozy” in outdoor winter attire, according to a Scheels billboard I spotted along U.S. Highway 14 between Waseca and Janesville. The model appears well-cozied in her winter jacket, leggings and boots (which seem more fashionable than practical). I wouldn’t want to be slip-sliding around on the ice in those heels.

That all said, I appreciate Scheels’ efforts to convince us that we really can be fashionable in outdoor winter attire. Now if only we could convince the rest of the country that Minnesota is about much more than cold weather.

TELL ME: When you think of Minnesota, what word pops into your head? Cold? Snow? Something else?

How can Minnesota change its “cold” image? Or should we?

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


39 Responses to “Fashionably cold in Minnesota”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    FRIEND! That is what pops into my head first. 🙂 I am back, by the way, and trying to catch up before I hit the road again. We are going to Florida and going to leave a day earlier to avoid that arctic blast that is coming all over including NC. 🙂 Stay warm, my friend.

  2. —-Of course, I’m from Minnesota and I’m still FREEEEZING.
    I’m the girl above in the high heels; Aww, perhaps this is the reason I am FREEEZING.
    I’m never prepared for 85 below. People from Minnesota laugh at me. Serious.
    What pops into my head: Fishing, hunting, Fargo, Trees, NICE people, baking, family, SNOW, & Cold as hell.


  3. MN is a lot of things to me – yes you have four seasons, including colder temps for months. There are lakes and forests and beautiful parks to explore. You can adventure through rural to suburban to urban to city. The food is such a melting pot. Then you have the grand dame of St. Paul and its modern twin of Minneapolis. The arts and culture and theaters. I could go on and on . . . I am like you in that I would be bundled up and not all that concerned with fashion when just wanting to be warm. Happy Day – Stay Warm – Enjoy 🙂

  4. Marneymae Says:

    I suppose until people actually go and BE in a place, they’ll have the ideas they hold.
    Living in the hilly, forested northeast, when people hear I’m from Illinois, their usual reply is: it’s flat there.
    And, well, yes for the most part it is quite flat. Strikingly so after being here for so long. But that’s not all Illinois is, and there are some glacial areas of great beauty, as well as a sort of Sky that seems to only occur in the Midwest.
    I didn’t really know much about Minnesota until I visited there in 2014, and to me & my bones, it felt like home at Lake Superior for some reason I’ll never understand.
    And yes, it was colder than Ithaca was at the time, but that’s to be expected given its latitude.
    Great selfie, btw. Super sweet.

    • That’s a good point– until people actually go and BE in a place, they’ll have the ideas they hold.

      I loved upstate New York (Syracuse area) when we passed through there last spring. Beautiful hills, woods, farms…I wish we’d had time to get off the interstate and explore besides our overnight in Baldwinsville.

      It’s interesting to me that you mention Lake Superior. That Minnesota is foreign to me and feels like an entirely different world from my prairie upbringing.

  5. Barb Says:

    We winter in Key West and spend summer AT HOME in the lakes area of MN. My first thought is ‘lakes’ and ‘beauty’. But I was raised in the cold (Fargo) and I don’t think we should change people’s impression of ‘cold’. If too many people find out how wonderful Minnesota really is, the population could explode! I’ve always quipped ‘cold keeps the rif-raf out’

    • You and I think alike. I had the same thought after returning from the crowded East Coast. Visiting there (especially in the ring communities of Boston) gave me a much deeper appreciation for the space we have here in Minnesota.

  6. Virginia Updegrove Says:

    When I think of Minnesota I think of – it is a place I have not been and want to come visit. Have a number of wonderful friends from there, want to see the areas where the Swedes settled years ago since I’ve read so much about that time. But on a lighter side, I remember my sons hockey coach in Anchorage visiting his home state every year at Christmas and returning saying “I’m glad to be back in Anchorage as it’s warmer here’.

  7. Sue Ready Says:

    Yes you do look fashionably dressed for the arctic blast. Check out this posting to see how MN does

    • Thanks, Sue. I’ll check out the link.

      I don’t typically dress as shown in the photo of me. That bundling happened when I rang bells for the Salvation Army a year or two ago. I was going to be outdoors in the frigid cold for two hours. In weather like today’s, though, I’ll wear boots, my wool pea coat and a stocking cap and gloves.

  8. Larry Says:

    For the listener,who listens in the snow,
    And, nothing himself,beholds
    Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

    Wallace Stevens: The Snow Man. Winter teaches a lot of lessons some people never get to learn. We are lucky. -2 windy! Perfect.

  9. Louis Rolf Says:

    keeps the riffraff out

  10. I’m sure those leggings aren’t that warm either.

    I think of Minnesota as a home like state even though I’ve never lived there. I’ve spent my entire close to its borders and it’s one of my favorite places to weekend trip to… as long as it’s not in the cities.

    • I live within an hour of downtown Minneapolis and I don’t like going there either. Thankfully my husband is OK with driving there, as long as it’s not during rush hour or a snowstorm. Our oldest daughter and her family live in the north metro, thus we cannot avoid the Cities.

  11. Don Says:

    When people ask me where I plan to retire and I tell them somewhere in Minnesota, Wisconsin or Michigan they give me the “are you nuts” look? I tell them being born and raised in Minnesota the Midwest is, and always till be, home. The sun states are nice to visit but I truly would not wish to live in one (with the exception of Hawaii perhaps). I like the change of seasons and it is much easier to get warm (you can dress appropriately) than it is to get cool (you can only take off so much clothing) not to mention having bragging rights as a Minnesotan is important!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Jackie Says:

    BEAUTY!!! Beauty in every season. I especially LOVE the beauty of winter, not so much the cold, but since I don’t have to stand out in the cold for any given amount of time, I don’t mind it that much I guess. I choose to walk 5 blocks outside to work on days like today, even when there is a subway that will take me from the parking ramp to the Mayo building. Call me crazy…. I say refreshing! As far as Minnesota’s “cold” image, I say we embrace it but also brag on the other seasons (except summer….too hot for me)

  13. Marilyn Says:

    MN is 10,000 lakes, great people, beautiful, As much as I try to avoid the cold/snow these days, I’m even more into trying to avoid the biting insects in the summer. and MN has too many of the later!

  14. Ko Says:

    I found your post so funny. Keep writing

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