Skating: A New Year’s Day Tradition

Skating CollageWhen I was a little girl, I wanted to be a figure skater. It never happened, but I still love to go skating. It’s one of the reasons I love winter. So this year, I decided to make it a New Year’s Day tradition. This was our first year, so I don’t know if can really be called a tradition yet, but I don’t really care.

Our favorite place to skate is Centennial Lakes Park in Edina. Not only do they have a HUGE skating area (I don’t particularly enjoy skating in a circle), but the setting is lovely, it’s free (unless you need to rent skates), and they keep the ice smooth and cleared off with a Zamboni. Oh, and the warming house and fireplaces are pretty nice, too.

Do you have a favorite winter activity?

Let It Snow

12.9.12 caesar snowstorm It finally snowed. For real. We got a light dusting in November, but it was nothing compared to this. We got about a foot of snow (and these pictures were taken hours before it finally stopped.)

12.9.12 caesar snowstormI’m not one of those sad snow-haters. I’ve been waiting for it since the leaves started falling back in September. I’ve been daydreaming of frosty trees and slushy walks to Starbucks. I’ve been smelling the air and watching the clouds.

12.9.12 caesar snowstormI’ve never quite been able to explain it, but nothing brings me joy the way snow does. That’s not to say other things don’t bring me joy. It’s just a different kind of contentment and anticipation. Trees come close—especially in the spring when their leaves first pop out and the whole world seems green. And Lake Michigan on a warm day—that comes close too. But this . . .

12.9.12 caesar snowstormIt’s the kind of beauty that makes you ache because it’s just so pretty.

There’s nothing like standing outside at night and watching the snow, looking up as it falls, listening as a gentle hush descends on your little corner of the earth. Snow makes everything beautiful. It covers imperfections. It makes everything clean.

12.9.12 caesar snowstormSometimes at night, I wrap myself in a blanket, turn off the lights, open the window, and just watch the snow fall. (And sometimes I make my very patient husband do it with me. He must love me a whole lot.)

12.9.12 caesar snowstormIf you’re one of those sad snow-haters, I’m sorry. Not because it snowed—oh no—I’ve been praying and praying for that. I’m sorry because you’re missing the magic. The magic that makes you giddy and hopeful and excited. The magic that makes you feel like a kid again.

I know it’s easy to miss the magic when you have to get up early to clean off your car or it takes you two (or three!) times as long to drive home from work, but next time you’re out in the snow, take a second to breathe it all in. And listen to the sound it makes. That’s my favorite part.

12.9.12 caesar snowstorm

Confessions of a Transplanted Michigander

It’s been almost three years since I married my Sweetheart and moved to the Twin Cities, and it’s been quite an experience. We ended up here because it’s where Jonathan grew up, and when he graduated (earlier than I did), he got a job here. Life in Minnesota is pretty different than it was growing up in southeast Michigan, and after reflecting on the differences, I have a few confessions—some serious and some not so serious . . .

1. Michigan will always have a special place in my heart, but I really do love living in Minnesota. And let me tell you, a one-bedroom apartment in a nice first-ring suburb of Minneapolis may be a little more than we’d like to pay, but we can get almost anywhere in the metro in about 20 minutes. At heart, I am a Midwestern girl. Michigan and Minnesota are both great states to live in.

2. I really miss Downey’s potato chips and Faygo pop. And it was impossible to find Paczki on Fat Tuesday. We do have Vernor’s here if you know where to look, and I usually get it when I’m feeling sick because that’s when I always had it as a kid. Minnesota does have a few yummy things, too—cheese curds, for example, which I had never heard of before moving here.They’re probably a Wisconsin carryover, but that’s okay.

3. I think Minnesotans talk funny. Sorry, Minnesota, but I’ll always serve casserole (not hotdish), love my [ant] (not aunt), play duck duck goose (not duck duck gray duck), and open the doorwall (not the sliding glass door). And you’ll never hear me say I’m “coming with” or telling you to “bring the blanket with.”

4. I’m always going to miss Lake Michigan. Minnesota’s 10,000+ lakes are great and all, and I love to head north to see Lake Superior, but there’s no comparison. I’ll take the glorious sand dunes over the rocky shore any day.

5. I’ve never been to Mackinac Island, and I was five the last time I visited the UP. I’m ashamed to admit this and hope to remedy the situation in the next few years.

6. I love Michigan winters. To be fair, I’ve always loved snow, so maybe this is a lame confession. But it gets too freaking cold in Minnesota. I never thought I minded the cold much til I moved here. And though the last two years have been weird (record high and low amounts of snow, respectively), I think the average amount of snow in each state is pretty comparable.

7. I use my hand to show people where I’m from. I’d never seen anyone do this until I moved to Indiana for college. People always joke about it, and I always feel silly, but it’s pretty useful : )

8. I love working five minutes from the Mall of America. (Actually, it’s closer than that, but sometimes finding a parking spot is tricky—like last Saturday when it took us half an hour.) I’m over the fact that it’s the largest mall in the US, but I love the convenience. That said, I often feel like an awful, materialistic American when I visit. But as long as I’m not spending $200 on a pen or $25 at the oxygen bar, I think I can relax a little.

9. I’ve learned Michigan’s weather isn’t quite as unique as I always thought it was. I’ve lived in Michigan, Indiana, and Minnesota now, and I know people from Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa. And we all claim our state has the most unpredictable weather: “We always say in (fill in Midwestern state here),’If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it’ll change.'”

10. I was kinda shocked when I moved to Minnesota and everyone poked fun at domestic car companies and drove imports. Okay—that’s a gross generalization, but I was surprised when no one realized or cared how important the car industry is—at least in Michigan. Most people here haven’t grown up in a family that revolves around cars. And they didn’t cry when they saw this Superbowl commercial like I did. My dad is a mechanic. My grandpa and aunt retired from GM. My mom and uncle have spent most of their lives manufacturing car parts. My great grandparents moved to Detroit from Poland and worked on the assembly lines. The car companies’ struggle affects all of us. And all I ever hear in Minnesota is derogatory comments about “Government Motors.”

So there you have it. Have you ever moved to a new place and been surprised by how different it is? I’d love to hear your stories.