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Ryan Johnson, Published October 31 2013

Johnson: Look on the bright side to get through another winter

Despise isn’t a strong enough word for how I feel about Red River Valley winters.

But a positive attitude can help make it through yet another long, snowy season when the valley becomes frozen tundra.

If I can’t look forward to sunshine and warm weather for the next six months, at least I can keep these perks of winter in mind while I risk frostbite each time I step outside.

Extra storage: In the summer, as we shed layers of clothing to try to beat the heat, men also lose an important commodity – storage space for our cellphones, wallets, keys and all those other things that just don’t fit well into the few pockets that we have left in our jeans or shorts.

That’s not a problem during the winter, when any bulky coat will give dudes plenty of extra pockets to store their gear.

Lazy weekends: Deciding to skip the bars and stay home for a lazy weekend is frowned upon when the sun doesn’t set until 10 p.m. and there’s no good reason to stay indoors.

A raging blizzard just outside your window gives you all the justification you need to skip the socializing and be a recluse. During the winter, there’s no shame in spending a Saturday night immersed in yet another “Law and Order: SVU” marathon dressed up in a pair of fuzzy slippers and pajama pants.

Bad weather, or even just the possibility of bad weather, is the perfect way out of a night on the town, a family reunion or any other activity we’d rather avoid. Sadly, this excuse doesn’t work for getting out of school or work.

Blissful nights: The best sleep of the year happens in the midst of winter, when the extreme lack of daylight finally takes its toll and spending 10 hours in bed seems like a perfectly reasonable use of time.

The long nights and cold weather make it easier than ever to hit snooze a few more times each morning. Pile a few extra blankets on the bed, turn the furnace down a couple degrees and get caught up on all the sleep you missed during the summer.

Death to bugs: I can shrug off the occasional in-home visit by a spider or just about any other creepy-crawly creature. But the mere sight of a wasp fills me with panic, leaving me unable to think about anything except the flight path of these horrible, horrible insects.

Luckily, these tough bugs have one big weakness – cold temperatures.

I now think of the early winter as a time for celebration, knowing each and every yellow jacket that has terrorized me all summer long is now dead and gone. Even if you don’t share my phobia of wasps, the same icy death will come to those spiders, moths, flies and mosquitos that annoy us whenever we have pleasant weather.Bragging rights: Revel in the knowledge that you’re living in one of the coldest places on the planet, and don’t be afraid to talk about it constantly.

You won’t get much sympathy from a neighbor or co-worker who also had to dig their car out from the latest blizzard or drive across roads that would be better used as skating rinks.

Instead, find a faraway friend or relative on Facebook and let them know just how much colder Fargo is than Alaska.

Sure, Arizona might have cacti and sunshine. But snowbirds don’t get to brag about building a snowman in May or being able to safely store frozen food on their deck.

You live in a climate that even beetles and wasps can’t survive. We all earn a badge of honor just for making it through another winter.

Put your North Dakota or Minnesota Nice on hold and brag your way through another winter. Just don’t forget to dust off your humility once the snow starts melting.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587