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Ryan Johnson, Published April 16 2014

Johnson: It won’t be long until we’ll miss these perks of our cold, long winters

Winter is over, whether or not the actual weather conditions in the Red River Valley support my claim.

Other than that one glorious 75-degree day earlier this month, the past six months have been brutally cold, even for a lifelong North Dakotan like me.

Still, no matter what any of us say now, there will come a time in the not-so-distant future when we’ll all start complaining about the mosquitoes, sunburns and humidity that can make summers miserable.

Now that we’re done with the frigid winter of 2013-14 – at least according to me – let’s reflect on the things we’ll miss about North Dakota’s longest season.

The return of love handles: It’s a matter of necessity – during the cold, dark stretches of winter, the only way to stay warm is to bundle up, putting thick coats over sweaters over shirts.

This required layering has the added benefit of hiding the out-of-shapeness of us office-working, non-exercising residents for six months each year.

But the layers soon will have to come off, and there won’t be any more loose coats to hide my love handles and lack of muscle tone.

Paleness is unacceptable: My ghostly white complexion, courtesy of my Scandinavian heritage and lack of prolonged exposure to sunlight, is just fine in January or February.

No one notices how pale I am in the midst of winter, because most everyone else around me is as white as a snowbank. But as the summer ramps up, and seemingly everyone but me spends long weekends soaking up the sun at lake cabins, my whiteness becomes a reason for ridicule.

Either The Forum will have to invest in free tanning beds for its new employee break room, or I’ll have to actually get outside and get some sun to blend in this summer.

Goodbye, free refrigeration: If I stock up on too many frozen goods during a good winter sale at the grocery store, and run out of room in my small freezer, I can simply leave the grocery bags on my deck, knowing everything will stay well below the proper storage temperature.

But sticking frozen pizzas and beef roasts into the snowbank isn’t an option anymore, at least not for a few months, so it’s back to normal food safety procedures for now.

No need for A/C: This one only applies to the proud owners of clunkers that should be retired from the road, not that my 1997 Dodge Neon would fall into that category.

I love those first days of spring when I can roll down the windows and let some fresh air in while I drive. Still, a little breeze doesn’t help much if it’s 95 degrees and humid outside.

Normally, a driver could just roll up the windows and crank the air conditioning to get comfortable. I, however, haven’t had that option in a few years because the compressor went out, and the cost of fixing it would far exceed the total value of my car.

Instead, I sweat through the summer whenever I get into my little red two-door with a heat-absorbing black and gray interior, hoping the sources I’m meeting to interview won’t notice the sweat stains that are sure to come even after a short trip across town.


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