Enjoy the cold that keeps out riff raff — healthy people do

It’s not easy keeping up your spirits when winter and polar vortexes catapult the thermometer in to a region well below zero.  What do you do to keep out the invading winter blues?  Some people fall prey to the knighthood of long dark nights when the kingdom of cold invades.

It is possible not to fall to the avenging onslaught of relentless waves of killer cold fronts, but you have to work at it. You have to look for it.  You have to venture out to see the beauty of the season.  That may mean adjusting your schedule a bit. The Golden Hour is mid-afternoon, that last hour when the landscape turns gold.  On a holiday, such as New Years Day, the first sunset of the year is mid-afternoon, about 4:30.  That is when I forced myself to break free from the clutches of the cold to get out with my camera to capture the day.

The first sunset of 2014

The first sunset of 2014

One of the things I’ve come to discover about North Dakotans is they accept the things they cannot change and change the things they can.  So, when record-breaking cold weather sets in, they know they can do nothing about the weather, but they can do something about their own comfort or their own activity.  Of course it’s easier to do nothing and fall prey to the demons of darkness.  Taking a step to fight back is what many healthy people of the cold north such as North Dakotans do every winter.

965859_719882948021983_1441034643_oskis point to the clearing other side of woods wtrmrk     Some will go cross-country skiing.  Cross Ranch, a quiet state park where groomed cross-country ski trails weave through a cottonwood forest that stood here when Lewis and Clark tugged their boats up the Missouri River.

For some of us, it means layering up.  I’ve spent the coldest days of the winter working in my anti-starvation work. Outside.  Attempting to stay warm while keeping the bills paid.I wear as many as 7 layers of clothing when I know I’ll be working outside. I caught this image of myself in the mirror of the tractor I was driving.

The John Deere way to view the winter.

The John Deere way to view the winter.

  • Short underwear
  • Long underwear
  • Jeans
  • sleeveless T-shirt
  • Long Sleeve T-shirt
  • Flannel shirt
  • Bib overalls
  • Hooded sweatshirt
  • Coveralls
  • Parka and
  • Hoodie face and neck protection

Camera and me in tractor cab

Not everyone has to work outside. And not everyone can resign themselves to the fact there are some things (like cold weather) that you just can’t do much about.  Sure, North Dakotans could sit at home and complain, and wait for spring, or they could get out and do something about it.  The North Dakotans I know choose to enjoy it.  For some, that means racing up a hill in to town.02-24-10 snowmobiles

Or for some who know they can’t change the weather, but they can change their activities, it means diving in to those winter hobbies.  I’m fortunate to have a wood shop where I teach myself how to build wood frames for my prints.

open door to wood burning stove logs inside

Wood burning stove keeps things warm and friendly on a cold winter night.

wood and the table saw  The wood stove sits quiet, unused and neglected much of the year.  However, this time of the year, it’s actually a rewarding way to get out of the cold.  I love burning wood to stay warm.

It’s all about attitude, isn’t it.  I think that’s one of the healthiest things about North Dakotans.  They work at keeping up their spirits when the cold keeps out the riff raff.  What’s a good way to enjoy winter and beat the winter blues?

October 2


An autumn project


This is the kind of thing that occupies the time of most industrious people every autumn. Summer is short in North Dakota, and people enjoy as much of it as possible.  When the leaves start falling, work projects pick up.  Kat didn’t want to go another winter without a useable covered deck on her home.  This is my kind of project. I love building things such as decks and sheds — so much so, I almost forgot to shoot the project underway.

It helps that Kat owns Kat’s Painting Plus and has most if not all the tools needed for such a task.  So, we dug in for several days to build her deck foundation, floor, rails and roof. 

The old steps are the red wooden box in the background.  Once we removed that, the rest was a step-by-step design/build project…with much discussion and consideration of each step including the integrity of the posts to which the project depended.

Within a few days, we had her deck built and covered, and then a couple more full days of  work for the shed to be built for her motorcycle.

Autumn comes quick, doesn’t last long, but if you put your mind to it, you can get a lot done. We did.

March 20

Kat the woodworker

Allow me to introduce you to a multi-talented person.  Kat used to be a 2nd grade school teacher. She’s also been a computer geek.   She runs a home remodeling business most of the year, but in the winter, makes barn board decorations such as frames. And oh, she’s an artist, mostly with pencil, but also with air brush.  I’m pleased to have such a talented and artistic person as a my friend.  Her skills, knowledge and abilities are an asset.

Her winter activities of woodworking are under the label Vintage Prairie.  I think next winter she’s gonna give it a big push on-line and in public.  Her work is not slopped together, but as you would expect from an artist, a computer geek, it is precise and tight.  I shot her at work and some of her finished products for her website Vintage Prairie.  Then came spring and her home remodeling business took off again.  So, for now, the frames hang on the wall in the shop, waiting for her return.