Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The Minnesota ice challenge February 6, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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The snow boots which help me navigate through a Minnesota winter. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


A TIME EXISTED WHEN ICE excited me. I’d pull out my Aunt Dorothy’s hand-me-down figure skates in anticipation of an hour or two on the ice.

Oh, the nostalgia. Oh, the memories of skating on the rink (if you could call it that) next to the grain elevator in Vesta. Oh, the memories of skating across icy ponds formed in cornfields from melting snow. Skating there meant swerving around corn stubble. But when you live in a definitively rural area, you make do. And I did. And I loved to skate. Loved ice.

Now? Not so much. OK, let’s just be honest. I don’t like ice. Now that I’m well past the safe age of skating and ice poses a risk rather than a reason for fun, I avoid it. Two falls in the past two years resulting in broken bones, surgery on one and months of therapy are cause enough to practice caution. Note that neither of those breaks occurred on ice. But given I’ve experienced the results of falls, I am mindful of slick surfaces.

And we currently have an abundance of those in Minnesota from driveways to sidewalks to parking lots to roadways. It is the nature of winter, some winters worse than others. And this one seems to be especially bad with bitter cold temps and fog and freezing rain and snow creating slippery surfaces upon which we must navigate.

So how do I manage, especially when walking? I shuffle like the old (er) person I am. I walk around icy patches if possible. I hang onto the husband (hey, nothing like going down together) or whatever vehicle. I wear my snow boots with their semi gripping tread. I stay clear of paths covered by snow and/or ice if possible.

But, unless I sequester myself inside until May, I can’t fully avoid every potentially bone-breaking surface. Rather, I need to be mindful, use common sense and hope that spring arrives sooner rather than later.

TELL ME: Have you (or someone you know) experienced a fall, or near fall, on an icy surface? What were the results? How do you stay safe if you live in a cold weather climate?

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


19 Responses to “The Minnesota ice challenge”

  1. ice –avoid it at all costs. Not much ice around here and it looks like it is going to be in the 70’s today so I am totally going to enjoy that. I just try to use common sense if there is ice underfoot – like you- shuffle and hang on.

    • Ice is the reason I didn’t shovel at all yesterday after our surprise nearly 8-inch snowfall. Much more than predicted. Randy’s usual 22-minute commute took him nearly an hour. Cars in ditches, buses stuck, kids stranded at schools, no travel advised. Once home, Randy had to, once again, repair the snowblower before blowing out our drive and walk and that of our elderly neighbor. Plus shovel places that he couldn’t blow. He finally finished about three hours later. Now more snow is expected to start falling this evening, with another 8 inches. Sigh. Enjoy the 70s.

  2. I do all those things you do Audrey….. shuffle like an “old” person taking baby steps and keeping my weight balance over my core. I’m afraid of falling so I wear a really good anti slip pair of boot shoes when I have to walk outside, and of course Rick is my crutch when we go out together. Be safe my friend, no falling please 🙂

  3. Do the Shuffle and Hang On . . . I do not miss that at all. Be Safe and Stay Warm 🙂 Take Care & Happy Day – Enjoy!

  4. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

    Hi Audrey! I’ve been thinking a lot about how to be safe as I penguin-walked down our ice-coated driveway this week. I slipped on ice a couple of times this winter when I was out with the dog. The results were merely bruises and one very sore right hand, but no broken bones. This time. I did break my arm a few years ago – again walking the dog on icy roads. Sigh. Being outside daily with the dog, I’m not surprised that I’ve had a few spills. There are no guarantees. But I’ve gotten a lot better at being mindful recently, the aforementioned penguin walk (steps closer together than usual – darn close to a shuffle) when everything is coated in ice, and wearing really good boots. And I stock up on the Ice Melt. If there’s a snowbank alongside the icy walkway, I walk through the snowbank! Been considering getting some Yak Trax for over the boots. I have an older friend who swears by them. It’s all a challenge for sure.

  5. Gunny Says:

    My wife is the one who has problems with slippery surfaces: The other problem is Cold. In the case of slippery, San Antonio is Hot and Humid unless it is Winter, when it may be cold or moderate – then it might be really damp or rain and the hard surfaces are prone to be slippery due to water or stuff growing on it! My wife fractured her ankle and went through setting the leg in a strap on cast and later rehab. Had the wheel chair, walkers, canes scooters etc. I looked at her shoes which had no tread by design were the culprit. On a motor cycle trip in December around Flagstaff, Arizona (yes, it was ready to snow and did!), I took off my cold as a well digger’s – you get the idea – cowboy boots and bought boots similar to the ones shown. Having worked in Industrial environments, save for the cowboy boots, all my footwear has tread on the soles. Makes walking on carpet tough, but these treads allow me to stay upright. I now check the shoes my wife buys for some type of tread. I also do not ride a motorcycle in December! .

    • I’m laughing at the not riding your bike in December. Good idea. Treads on footwear are important. Lack of that contributed to my fall on rain-slicked wooden steps in June and subsequent wrist breakage and surgery. I haven’t worn those flip flops since.

  6. Almost Iowa Says:

    It’s slippery out on the roads. I know that because when goes down on the ice, I have to wonder what I am doing out there. The things, dogs are rarely embarrassed at falling and they are built closer to the ground, so as not to get hurt. Neither of which I can say about myself.

  7. Valerie Says:

    It is a scary challenge, that’s for sure. I walk like an old (er) person too! 😉

  8. Sandra Van Erp Says:

    Let’s hope it doesn’t come to this…Randy better be careful too. This is a winter I think we’ll remember. Usually for me, they all run together. Get through one, move on. I’ve mastered the shuffle and, I think, the penguin walk.

  9. Littlesundog Says:

    We have ice this morning. I had to be especially mindful carrying Mr. T outside to do his morning business. I don’t get out much in the ice, and like you, I avoid the worst of it if possible. As we age, it’s so important to use common sense if we do have to venture out. It’s not beneath me to shuffle, hold on to anything to stable myself, and just stay IN if it’s too bad. I have never broken a bone and I don’t intend to risk it! Thankfully, we don’t see much snow in the south, but we do have ice occasionally.

    • Be careful out there. I think ice is worse than snow. I’m with you on just staying in if conditions are too bad outdoors.

      Snow is falling here again today after a one day break. Schools closed. Blizzard warnings just a county away and stretching south and west across Minnesota.

      • Littlesundog Says:

        Yes, snow at least gives you traction (until it melts and refreezes!). GAH!! I think of you every time I see the weather up north. I don’t miss those extreme conditions one bit.

      • The past two weeks have been especially rough with that crazy brutal cold and now snow, too much snow. Randy’s 22-minute commute on Tuesday took nearly an hour. Then, once he’s home, he has to clear away all that snow. Oh, well, this is where we choose to live, right? Every state has something.

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