Reflections from a “Minnesotan” Midwife

My first winter in Minnesota.

Written when the temperature is -13 degrees and -35 with wind chill.

People keep asking me how cold it needs to get before I run screaming back to Seattle.

If it is a question of fitness, I think I’ve got this. I do yoga (sometimes) and I can swim a mile (At least. I stop at a mile because it’s not fun anymore after that and I am highly committed to fun.) I catch babies for a living so I can squat for a long time and bend in weird ways and get sore in places that aren’t visible to the human eye.

I have been through winter before:

  • In Philadelphia, while I was in nursing school at University of Pennsylvania (lots of snow, nowhere near as cold as here).
  • In Michigan, where I went to undergrad in Ann Arbor (medium snow, nowhere near as cold as here).
  • In Boston. That was a cinch. Seriously.
  • In Houston. It floods there so it is an entirely different animal (and I will talk Texas some other day)
  • And, as a child in Virginia and California and, most recently, in Seattle.

Seattle’s bleak damp winter does not technically prohibit time outside but it is hardening and reacted to in a way that is wholly different from the Minneapolis reaction to frigid wind. I maintain, in fact, that Seattlites are Minneapolitans who missed the mountains and Minneapolitans are Seattlites who missed the sun. The difference: Seattlites are much more inclined to stay inside in the winter than Minneapolitans despite the warmer temperatures. They herd indoors and out from under the overcast skies toward light bulbs and fireplaces. A trend I have not noticed here in Minneapolis and I LIKE IT.

I have seen magic in this Minnesota winter. Women with coats open, faces turned up, bellies hitting the air in front of them before their noses. Babies dressed like yetis. Cars running mysteriously with no bodies yet inside. Salt, kitty litter, and mystery grit laid out for the safety of others. Luminaries made of shining frozen water placed by mysterious Boo Radleys on neighbors lawns with blinking candles lit.

I’m not from here, but I think I have what it takes. Literally. I have an amazing new coat, mittens and boots because, as you Minnesotans also keep telling me, you don’t get better at handling cold, you just get better gear. But a true magician never gives credit to or blames her wand. I see you Minnesotans and I’m picking up what you’re putting down.

Heide Cruikshank is an MBC midwife who is braving her first Minnesota winter (wish her luck!). She looks forward to welcoming many babies to the warmth of MBC.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *