Up North: Where Winter is Welcome

When my sister and her husband moved Up North years ago, I told her that I would only come to visit her in the non-Winter months.  To me, that means May to September because snow can fall at any time in any of the other months of the year.

Up North Towel

That’s what they call it here – Up North.

I am NOT exaggerating.  Winter is like 7 months long Up North.

I am not a fan of ice, cold, and snow.  I lived in Chicago and Boston when I was in my 20s and got my fill of Winter weather.  So, until last year, I had never visited her in the Winter months.

But, last year, I made the trip in February, and I visited in February this year again.

It’s funny to me to hear the folks up here get so excited about Winter and new snow.  The tourist areas don’t close up in the Winter – they just shift to Winter activities.

Where I live, an inch of snow is enough to close all the schools and to strike terror into one and all.  The hint of impending  snow and the grocery store shelves are stripped bare of eggs, bread, and milk, and people don’t venture out unless they have to.

Up North, the people actually complain about the lack of snow and look forward to new snowfalls so that they can do the opposite – go out and participate in a variety of Winter sports and activities.  Skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice fishing.  I have actually seen people out walking and running just like they do in the warmer months.  Except that they have more gear on.

One of my sister’s neighbors stopped by while I was Up North and was talking about her husband going on a 30k cross country skiing event.  It was shortened because the snow was less than expected – only about a foot of new snow.

Minnesota Feb 2013 (3)

Trees just outside the back door.

Even I have to admit, though, that the freshly fallen snow looks beautiful on the large pine trees of the Northwoods.

Minnesota Feb 2013 (1)

Hard to believe that this is the same deck that we sat on a few short months ago when the temperatures were in the 100s.

My sister’s home looks out over a small lake.  You can’t see the lake in the summer because the trees and foliage are so dense.

Minnesota Feb 2013 (2)

A few inches of new snow on the deck rail along with the chili pepper lights.

But, you can see it all Winter long.  We’ve watched dogs and birds walk on the ice.

That’s another thing – the news reports this time of year always include several stories about people and cars going through the ice.  And not because people accidentally drive or walk onto the ice.  Because they intentionally walk and drive onto the ice.

Minnesota Cul-De-Sac 02 2013

The pile of snow in the cul-de-sac where my sister lives.  This pile is smaller than normal, believe it or not, because they haven’t had much snow this year.

We didn’t venture out  much.  We mostly stayed inside.  We cooked and baked.  We made soup and bread and chicken and candy.

Chinese  Dumplings (1)

Chinese Dumplings – ready to cook.

We did make a trip out to the Chinese grocery store and bought the ingredients to make a batch of Chinese Dumplings for Chinese New Year.

Chinese  Dumplings (2)

Chinese Dumplings – ready to eat.

They took a little bit of time, but they weren’t too hard to make.  And they were so good.  Better than any dumplings I have ever eaten before in any Chinese restaurant.  I can’t wait to make them again.

My sister invited her Chinese neighbor over to taste test them, and she gave them two thumbs up.

Valentine's Candy 2013

Valentine’s Day Candy.

I helped my sister make all kinds of candy for Valentine’s Day.  She gave cute little red boxes filled with candies to neighbors, friends, and co-workers.  It is her small way of being nice and giving something back to people who have helped her over the past year.

I have enjoyed this special time with my sister and brother-in-law.

Minnesota 02 2013

The Welcome sign outside my sister’s house.

Even if it means that I am Up North in the dead of Winter.

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