Sunday, December 5, 2010

Finding Winter Bliss

  1. great joy or happiness
  2. spiritual joy; heavenly rapture
  3. any cause of bliss

In Italian, it's:
  1. gioia immensa,
  2. felicità perfetta,
  3. beatitudine
Regardless of how you say it, I have never found the winter version of it. With the exception of a few years as a child living in Equatorial West Africa, I have spent most of my life in places that have very defined climates. Winter has always been present to varying degrees and I have usually tried to do whatever possible to embrace it. I am definitely affected by the lack of daylight that prevails this time of year so the combination of cold and dark often feels quite confining.

I'm not a skier -- I've tried downhill and nordic and both seem to take away from the experience of being outdoors -- one's too fast and the other requires too much concentration. I greatly enjoy the pace of hiking, snowshoeing and of course, winter biking.

So far this winter, we have had two big snow storms. The first dumped a few inches of heavy, wet glop all over everything, and riding in it required a wetsuit to survive. The one that arrived this weekend was 5-8 inches of light, fluffy snow combined with cold temperatures. Riding to and from the shop Saturday was not terribly fun as the cars had turned the snow into oatmeal that defied traction, even with 4 inch wide tires.

After a day spent working in the shop on personal projects, and being told by my far more intelligent wife to quit complaining and embrace winter, I ventured out at dusk to see if I could "trovare la felicita" -- find some of that bliss. Both cities had declared snow emergencies and the parks department had cleared the bike paths -- it was like riding on a white carpet. Even the intersections had been cleared, and the riding was as easy as it is on those late summer nights when you know you could ride forever.

I only rode for an hour or so but it was very, very peaceful. The only sounds were my tires crunching on the dry, packed powder and Willie and Waylon saying something about tuned guitars and firm feeling women being the only things that make life worth living. I stuck to the paths along the Mississippi and encountered only a few people in those ten miles.

Minneapolis from Franklin Street


Ford Bridge

Honestly, I'd still rather be sitting in a remote desert someplace, taking in the immense night sky, but as Garrison Keillor so accurately stated -- "I believe in looking reality straight in the eye and denying it".

So, I will ride as many nights as I can, embracing the reality that is winter here in the Northland, and always hoping to get a little closer to finding felicità perfetta.



  1. Wonderful post KM, so right on!!
    Keep those wheels turning!!

    Peace, Joboo

  2. Very nicely stated! Being from northern Minnesota I've learned to embrace it, but city living has spoiled me somewhat. That being said...I still love winter. If only it didn't have to involve shoveling :)