BY GABE LICHT
There are plenty of stereotypes about Minnesotans.
As a native Iowan, I tend to believe them until proven otherwise.
One of the stereotypes I’ve always believed is that Minnesotans are hardier than those from states to the south.
I’ve always had plenty of proof of this.
I don’t wear shorts very often, and it typically has to be at least 75 degrees or warmer for me to consider it. My brother-in-law, on the other hand, has been known to wear shorts every month of the year.
I see people going all winter without wearing a hat, but if it dips below 40 degrees, it’s not uncommon for me to don a hood, stocking cap, or hat with flaps to cover my ears.
In my defense, I have sensitive ears. I’d like to think that makes me a good listener, but my wife may disagree on that point.
In the winter, our thermostat is set at 71 degrees, though this has more to do with us wanting our 1 year old to be comfortable than a personal preference. I’d rather it be a little cool when I sleep.
With that said, it blows my mind that some friends set their thermostats at 65 degrees or colder. That seems a bit extreme to me, and if that was the case at my house, I’d be searching for the wearable blanket my relatives once gave me.
An obvious difference between Minnesota and states to the south is when school is cancelled. Several inches of snow can fall without school administrators batting an eye, whereas entire cities come to a grinding halt with a half-inch of snow in states like Texas. Minnesotans know how to handle snow and ice better than those from southern states.
I surveyed my coworkers for other ways in which Minnesotans are hardier than others.
I learned that they grill year-round, while my grill has been in the garage for at least a month.
Speaking of the garage, they hang out in there in the winter, too. I, on the other hand, barely hang out in the garage when it’s seasonable. That, however, may be more of an indictment on my lack of handiness than my lack of hardiness.
While Iowans use can Koozies to keep beverages cold in the summer, I’ve been told Minnesotans use them to keep beverages from freezing in the winter, though I have never witnessed this firsthand.
It makes sense, though, as no one wants a beverage to freeze while ice fishing. Speaking of ice fishing, I’m interested in trying it sometime, but I have no interest in sitting on a bucket, or even a chair, out in the elements, as many Minnesotans do, especially during tournaments where icehouses are banned.
Considering all these things, there is one example that makes me feel like a wimp more than anything else: running in the winter.
When 2017 began, I made it a point to run at least once a week. However, I always gravitated toward the days with highs in the 20s or 30s, and I always wore two layers, a stocking cap, a hood, and gloves.
Meanwhile, I would see people running past me wearing considerably fewer layers. Yes, they were running faster than me, so I suspect they generated more body heat, but shorts in the winter seems a bit extreme to me.
However, something happened Monday that made me think maybe I’m not as much of a wimp as I thought.
Because it was so nice out, I decided to sneak home from work before the school board meeting to go for a run.
The big question was what to wear.
It was nearly 60 degrees, so I didn’t think I needed to wear long pants.
The decision to wear shorts also led to my decision to wear a short-sleeved T-shirt, as I’ve always thought it looked goofy to wear long sleeves with shorts, though many in the running community obviously disagree with me.
So, I took off, hoping the wind wouldn’t make me regret my wardrobe decisions.
While running, I was not surprised to see high schoolers wearing short-sleeved shirts. I was surprised, however, to see some younger kids actually wearing coats some of which were zipped up. I even saw one kid who didn’t have his face exposed at all.
Running past them, I saw a man tinkering in his garage wearing coveralls.
I started to feel pretty good about myself.
When I turned south to face the wind, I didn’t have to worry about being cold, but rather had to convince myself I was moving forward, as it felt like I was standing still.
I turned another corner and snapped a few photos of the setting sun. Then, before I knew it, I had run 3.1 miles, and I started walking home.
This is when I really started feeling hardy.
As I neared my house, an elderly gentleman in a sweatshirt approached me.
“It’s nice out, but I don’t think it’s quite that nice out,” he told me.
I explained that I had been running, but it didn’t seem to matter to him.
As I finished walking home, I had a little pep in my step.
“Maybe I’m not a wimp after all,” I thought. “I should probably write a column about this.”
In closing, I’m looking forward to this weekend’s outdoor activities, even if I will be a little more bundled up than everyone else.