Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Dangerously cold in Minnesota, but also beautiful December 20, 2022

Once the grey skies broke, the snow-layered trees looked especially stunning against the cobalt sky. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo December 2022)

THE LANDSCAPE HERE IN MINNESOTA the past week has been undeniably beautiful—a winter wonderland. It’s absolutely stunning with snow layered upon trees and rooftops, creating scenes that could grace any Christmas card. I found myself many times just pausing at a window to admire the beauty of the outdoors.

This image shows snow falling in my backyard last week. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo December 2022)

But four consecutive days of snowfall also brought issues. The heavy snow snapped branches and power lines leaving many, especially in the Brainerd lakes area of central Minnesota, without power. Snow slicked roads, leading to crashes. And for all of us, no matter where we live in the state, all that snow meant snow removal.

The shovels we use to remove snow, all lined up against our house. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo December 2021)

We have a snowblower, albeit massive and ancient, and three different types of shovels. The scoop shovel is good for tossing large quantities of snow, especially the rock-like chunks at the end of the driveway. The wide plastic shovel works well for pushing. And the wide metal shovel serves as an oversized ice scraper to expose bare concrete. I often shovel since I can’t manage the snowblower.

I zoomed in on this branch on a tree in my neighbor’s yard last week. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo December 2022)

Weather forecasters warned us to get the snow off sidewalks and driveways without delay. Why? Cold air has moved in. And it’s only going to get worse. The National Weather Service is warning of “life-threatening conditions possible Thursday and Friday with dangerously cold wind chills (into the minus 30s) and blizzard conditions from blowing snow.” So, yeah, not good. Our son is scheduled to fly in from Indiana on Thursday evening. Whether that happens remains to be seen. I don’t even want to consider the possibility of him not getting here for Christmas.

The snow boots I wear are warm, practical and fashionable. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo October 2020)

When the NWS starts tossing out words like wind chill, frostbite and hypothermia, we Minnesotans recognize the need to stock winter survival kits in our vehicles, dress in layers, don our waterproof boots, wear mittens (not gloves) and more.

Snow layered every branch, every twig in this image taken last week. Beautiful. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo December 2022)

When lines of ice edge door thresholds in our house, I block the bottoms of exterior doors with rag rugs to seal cold air entry points. When cold ices windows on the second level, well, there’s not much I can do.

Already I feel the chill in our old house. I’ve added an extra blanket to our bed. In the morning, I pull my clothes from a cold closet to warm for awhile before getting dressed for the day.

I especially love the contrast of snow against blue sky. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo December 2022)

As I write, light snow falls. A notice on my computer screen warns of dropping temps. Highs later this week will not even reach above zero as “dangerously cold Arctic air” moves into Minnesota, just in time for Christmas.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


24 Responses to “Dangerously cold in Minnesota, but also beautiful”

  1. beth Says:

    what incredibly beautiful pictures, Audrey. I especially love the first one of the tress. take care of yourselves and be warm, having lived there, you know the nature of the cold and it sounds like you’re dealing with it proactively.

    • I, too, love that first pic. I should have ventured beyond my property to photograph more. But the risk of falling on ice keeps me from that. It’s cold out there. I just got in from shoveling a light layer of snow from the sidewalk and driveway. At least those will be mostly clear until snow moves in on Wednesday, continuing through Friday.

  2. Brenda Says:

    Hi Audrey, We had planned to leave for our drive to Minnesota today. As the kids were excitedly packing bags upstairs, having just opened their “home presents” from us, we were downstairs realizing the forecast for Minnesota had changed from when I had last checked and it quickly hit me, it would be foolish to attempt our 3 day voyage at this point. We are heartbroken. But better safe than sorry! I hope your family stays safe, too!

  3. The snow looks beautiful 🙂 To be out and about in it makes me go brrrrr! We have a cold front coming in down here and that is not good with the citrus coming in. I think of layers on and the blanket added to the bed. Be Safe, Stay Warm, Take Care.

    • Oh, no, we don’t need cold affecting the citrus crop. It’s cold outside. Just got in from shoveling snow. I forgot to grab my scarf and started getting really cold on my neck. Rather than remove my snowboots, I simply grabbed a dish towel from a kitchen drawer. It worked.

    • In a pinch grab what is available to stay warm – INGENIUS! I do not miss shoveling snow. However, that being said we do have 7000 sq ft of yard to maintain down here and it can take me 2 to 4 hours to prune 6 trees. We have a Bottlebrush which is an evergreen weeping tree and try to keep it shaped and oh my goodness the riot of red when it blooms – puts on quite the show! The bees are happy with everything in our yard in bloom right now 🙂

  4. Rose Says:

    We had lots of snapped tree tops and broken branches with that last round of wet, heavy snow. We also have a similar snow removal system as you – multiple shovels and an old snow-blower. We’re fortunate on the days when the neighbor boy can get his plow truck running, he moves the snow at the end of the driveway where the county snow plow pushes up huge piles, blocking us in. Winter is quite an interesting challenge.

    • How kind of your neighbor boy to clear the end of your driveway when he can. That snow removal is always a challenge. Up until our elderly neighbor moved a year ago, we always cleared her drive and walk. Take care. Stay warm. Stay indoors, maybe. I just got in from shoveling the light layer of snow and it’s cold out there.

  5. This made me homesick! But, I really don’t miss the bitter temperatures. I remember the few winters I spent in my old house in Northern MN and how cold it was in the 1930’s house no matter what I did.
    Enjoy what you can and be safe and cover up when you are out in those – – – temperatures.🥶

  6. Brrrr! Stay warm and safe, Audrey. ❤

  7. Judith Says:

    That cold looks beautiful, but deadly. I do hope it’s safe for you to visit your daughters and grandchildren, and that your son can get to you for a belated celebration. I’d stock up on warming drinks, and settle in to watch all the versions of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. As Scrooge says-“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year”. Stay snug, Audrey, and Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    • Judith, thank you for your warm wishes and kind thoughts. The son has rebooked his flight to arrive AFTER Christmas and for a shorter stay. I’m OK with that given the weather. We hope to travel 35 minutes on Christmas Day to celebrate with our eldest and her family. We won’t see the Wisconsin daughter. She works for the US post office delivering mail…but she and her husband were here for Thanksgiving. I’m used to us not all being together. I hope you have a joyful (and safe) Christmas with family!

  8. Valerie Says:

    It is cold out there…and getting colder…sounds like we are in for a blizzard…bad timing though.
    Sounds like you are prepared for the stormy conditions…a true Minnesotan!

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