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Midwest Mental Hibernation

March 20, 2013 by Hailey Goplen

If you haven’t heard (though doubtful being that I myself have been bombarded with Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, newspaper articles, radio babble, and general mumbling spreading the news)… today is the first day of Spring. Hooray! Hooray! Spring is here! Shout it from the rooftops! Break out the pastels and crop pants! Spring is

What I expected to happen today. (Thanks Susanna for sharing this!)

here! While in reality, today looks and feels the exact same as it did yesterday when it was still winter (three feet of snow and bitterly cold), I felt different when I woke up this morning. Bad different. My theory: I woke up from my Midwest mental hibernation.

Let me explain. I believe that in order to protect myself from the hardest, coldest, longest, snowiest, winter I’ve experienced in the three winters I’ve lived in the upper Midwest, my body unconsciously went into a state of Midwest mental hibernation. This state of hibernation allowed me to ignore how dark and freezing it was outside every morning when I woke up and how warm and cozy my bed was. This state of hibernation prevented extreme profanities from spewing out of my mouth every time I stepped in a snow drift, which in turn caused my feet to be cold the rest of the day. This state of hibernation provided me with the tolerance and ability to express sympathy when I received phone calls from family members and friends across the country whom complained about their “bad weather” (also known as a dusting of snow that melts the next day and low 30 degree temperatures). Plain and simple, Midwest mental hibernation keeps people living here and ignoring the most brutal winters that ever existed anywhere on this planet, second only to places where polar bears, penguins, and Santa live.

I can only imagine that if a bear woke up after a long winter hibernation and emerged from his cave expecting to see butterflies, green grass, and birds chirping, only to be met with snow on the ground and no green grass in sight, he’d be a little grumpy to say the least. Clearly, this is what happened to me today. Yes, I know it is illogical to think that magically everything would be melted when I woke up this morning. However, my extreme level of irritation with the snow and cold weather today is significantly more elevated than it has been all winter. The only conclusion: my Midwest mental hibernation is over and I will be permanently grumpy with Mother Nature until the snow melts.


  1. Karlos says:

    My Midwestern winter coping mechanism was to simply embrace it. Take up winter sports. Get some deep reading done. If your feet are cold all day because you stepped in a snow drift, you’re not wearing the right footwear. 3Ms greatest invention, Thinsulate. Glory in the deep colors of the evening as the stars come out on those January nights. Learn to see the beauty of the season. I miss the sounds of ice skates and slap shots echoing in the night. I feel your pain. It’s been a rough spring in Colorado. We’ve been getting two winter storms a week since April 1st with temps in the single digits. ‘Shut up indoors during the long, though not dreary winters, in workshops and around firesides, our people must by and by become thoughtful, serious, studious, inventive.’ –William Watts Folwell, first president of the University of Minnesota.

  2. Dave from Minnesota says:

    The change of seasons is nice. Wait until late May when you start to have your windows open all day (and maybe all night). A nice warm (but not too hot) breeze blowing in. And hit the local famers market. Plants first, then strawberries, then other berries, then sweet corn. And soon you get the pumpkins and other fall items.

    And for winter…..if you don’t snowmobile or ice fish, do cross country sking.

  3. Don McCollor says:

    ..listen to Gordan Lightfoot’s song “Pussy Willows, Cat Tails” about the seasons… (like your blog)

  4. Joyce Johnson says:

    I agree. For some reason today was the limit for me too, and I’ve lived here all my life.

  5. steven g donahue says:

    Dustin a little cold weather. Maybe the word little is a very large exageration by you. So 8 out of hundred or maybe 10 out of hundred or even 20 out of a hundred are not working. About 5 out of hundred would not work just about anywhere because thats who they are. And Paradise is Paradise no matter what the employment or unemployment is at.. In fact employment only brings more people and more chaos and more bad air. So if it is eight than that means 92 out of a hundred are working. And yes Fargo, it will survive. Because “stupid is stupid does”. My thoughts and speech are protected as are yours. I was glad to hear your thoughts. Even if they were excuses for your weather and State. Stay well stay healthy, live love and dance. PS: Get your sandbags ready for that mucky stinky Red River will be rising.

  6. tom says:

    Chuckle. This past winter was about average for North Dakota. Your sample size of 3 is a tad too small. Now 1967 or 1996/1997, those were hard winters and some others in between. However, those were mild compared to the few years I lived in northern Alberta. How does 54 below zero, 5 hours of sunlight and weeks where the daytime highs never exceeded 15 below zero sound?
    Suggestions for next year: Get some sunlight either by going south for a week or bright lights. For some, it is as simple as extra vitamin D supplement every day we are on standard time (works wonders for my wife).

    • tom says:

      addendum: What revitalizes me every spring for the past 60+ years is the first green grass of spring in the sunlight. Artificial turf or indoor grass doesn’t do it. Just something about that intense green color.
      BTW, had robins and starlings at the bird feeder during the blizzard. It can’t be too long now.

  7. dustin says:

    Well, Steven, I’ll take a little cold weather over an unemployement rate of what 8+%. Sure sounds like paradise. I can’t believe Fargo has survived with you leaving….and BTW, just how many oil crazed billionaires do we have???? Oh ya, it’s actually zero, Idaho has one, so nice work.

  8. steven g. donahue says:

    I was born in Moorhead Mn. Lived in Fargo until I was 40 years of age. Once out of the office I liked the outdoors. One day I woke up and was very excited because I planned a weekend of fishing with my four children. Only having to cancel because of thunder storm warnings and tornado warnings for the entire weekend. This started the move out of here thoughts. Then in winter twice I had to take a hair dryer to my front door to get it open, it was frozen shut. Then had to hire someone to remove snow from in front of my garage because the drifts went over the roof. I traveled on and off for a year around this USA. Did my own research on climate. Then one day in August I took my wife and children and moved to Paradise. Boise, Idaho. Surrounded by Mountains. In the 21 years I have been here I felt like I,m on a constant vacation. Not a winter has gone by that I only wear cutoffs. Never a canceled weekend do to weather. The day it dawned on me I was born here but no law said I have to stay here. I think that was the day I grew up. No more listening to people say “oh the weather keeps out the rif raft”. Or “oh geeze it was almost 30 today.” Or man sure glad we didn’t get the tornado like the one in 57.” “Darn Mosquito and bugs are sure bad.” Or I think we might run out of sand bags. Or “the people are friendly”. Or a Bar on every corner. Or what about those Vikes think they choke again this year. Life is to short to live where it sucks. I guess if you like drinking, gambling, strip clubs, oil crazed billionaires, and constant bad hair days then have a nice day. Just had relatives out and they were really crying leaving 60 degrees and going back to a blizzard. I text them back,when they texted whining about it. I told them I’m sure your Mall sells suitcases.

  9. Aaron says:

    I wish I had that hibernation instead of cursing the thermoter daily and deciding each morning between my heavy coat, heavy coat with a hood, or slightly heavier coat that is water proof.

  10. Krandle says:

    Don’t worry, those six weeks of summer we get will make up for it all, assuming you don’t have to work or sleep!

  11. Brianne says:

    Couldn’t have said it better! What I refer to as my “winter depression” just hit me in the last week, when I realized it’s the middle of March and I can’t get out of our yard with my vehicle. Yuck!

  12. Susanna says:

    Quote for the day and keeps me going forward :)
    “Plain and simple, Midwest mental hibernation keeps people living here and ignoring the most brutal winters that ever existed anywhere on this planet, second only to places where polar bears, penguins, and Santa live.”
    Fun fact, the North Pole is warmer than us right now. @_@

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