In Minnesota, Even God has a Cold

by Scott Helmes

Lately, it seems, everyone is talking about the weather, though, as usual, no one has done anything about it. Ancient peoples, and even more recent ones, seemed to have had festivals for everything but getting rid of an unwelcome winter. The St. Paul Winter Carnival, supposedly meant to rid us of winter, occurs at the beginning of February, when any fool knows winter is just discovering fiendish ways to prolong the agony. Groundhog Day celebrates an animal as a prognosticator; maybe it should be a more sacrificial event.

In lieu of a festival or ceremony, for the average person we have cabin fever. An identifiable disease characterized by loss of sanity, it is difficult to diagnose by the trained professionals, but easily spotted by one's friends. Modern medicine mentions light deprivation as a contributing factor, but that's a partial evasion of the real truth and meant to throw us off track. We all know for certain that no known cure exists.

The local populace, on the other hand, keeps making feeble efforts to forward the progress of the natural progression of winter. Temporary relocation is the most advanced theory. The fallacy of this method is its temporal nature and the exquisite pain of the first 48 hours upon return. Letting nature take its own coarse is often the last resort, but hibernation until Memorial Day is rarely achievable, unless sedentary drugs are convenient. The time honored approach of take-to-drink is certain ruin. It's a small price to pay, but also usually leads to total amnesia until the fall solstice or later.

So after fifty-five years of experience, I can only offer Tolstoy's somewhat similar challenge. If you can't go hide behind the fish house for five minutes and not think of how gruesome winter has been and how much more there is to come, you don't have a legitimate reason to gripe.

2001 Scott Helmes. All rights reserved.