Thursday, December 12, 2019

She got what she asked for

Stanley - Thursday

Mette and I have alternated celebrating Christmas from one year to another between her home north of Copenhagen in Denmark and Cape Town in the south of South Africa. It is an interesting juxtapositioning of traditional European (indeed Danish) Christmas traditions and those of a country that is in the middle of summer when December 25 rolls around - hardly conducive to huge meals and snow..

Danish Christmas tree

African Christmas tree

My favourite African Christmas tree - a wire baobab
Anyway, this year Mette decided she would like to experience a Minnesota holiday season. To accomplish this, she arrived a few days before Thanksgiving so she could partake of turkey, turkey, and turkey, which we did at some friends. No American football watching though.

She also wanted to find out what all the fuss was about with respect to Minnesota winters. Over the past few days, she found out.

This is in Fahrenheit. It is about -21C.
This is a wee bit chilly for Minnesotans, but barely raises an eyebrow. Earlier in the year Minneapolis enjoyed -28 degrees F (-33 degrees C). On the same day, the high temperature soared to -13 degrees F (-25 degrees C).

I was impressed by how Mette took to the cold. She bundled up and headed outside. 

She particularly loved the snow - something that doesn't happen in Denmark nearly as often as it used to. We had 10 to 15 centimetres (4-6 inches). Not a lot, but enough to make the city beautiful.

One of the benefits of living in a city used to severe winters is that it is prepared. The entire Minneapolis downtown is connected by enclosed overhead walkways, called the Skyway system. This means that you can walk around town in shirtsleeves without freezing to death. Very nice. It also means that when snow falls, roads and sidewalks are cleared quickly and efficiently.

Part of the Skyway system
On at least one occasion. Mette and a friend headed out, planning to walk outside down Nicolette Avenue. It didn't take long for them to head to the Skyway. And why not when it is there?

Ploughed snow means piles of snow.

Roads are cleaned quickly, even if they are narrower than before. Notice the sun - a benefit of being really cold.
Mette has also enjoyed being in a city in the winter. In Denmark, she lives in the country. It is beautiful there, but totally different from being seventeen stories up, looking at the Mississippi on one side and downtown Minneapolis on the other.

The view from my building (Photo Miriam Larson)
This weekend we head to New York, where our gracious host will be none other than Annamaria Alfieri. On the agenda is Rockefeller Plaza and all that goes with it; a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and dinner with Jeff Siger and Barbara Zilly. And walking, walking, walking.

Next week back in Minneapolis is the Guthrie's A Christmas Carol - a perennial favourite. Then Christmas Day at our apartment with some friends - probably a mixture of different cultures featured on the dining room table.

I think Mette would say that the adventure has already been a great success, even though we still have three weeks here with plenty of special things to come. And I would say that you should come and experience a Minnesota winter and festive season. It is bracing, beautiful, and will take your breath away.


  1. Stan, Can't wait to see you both. PLEASE leave the snow behind. NYC is also prepared to deal with it too and most of our public transportation is underground, but icy sidewalks are common here. NOT good. You probably know exactly how much I envy you that wire baobab. The bananas not so much.

  2. Caro and I are enjoying 30 degrees of heat, sloths and sand. You can guess we are not at home. Have a great time in NY, say hello to the gang for us.

  3. We can't wait to see you guys...Alan and Caro if you wish to flee to the colonies...and I dare say that Mette will enjoy the subways. Just ride the Q from 14th Street up to 96th St and back! See you soon.

  4. I have to admit that I've never been as cold inside in Minneapolis as I've been inside on a Johannesburg winter day with essentially no heating or meaningful insulation and an outside temperature in the low forties!