A Winter of Constants: Adjusting to Life in My Hometown

(Following is my column, which appeared in the Tues., Jan. 8th edition of the Devils Lake Journal http://www.devilslakejournal.com/ where I am a reporter/writer. For more info about my hometown of Devils Lake, North Dakota, visit http://www.devilslakend.com/)

Constant is the perfect word to describe winter in Devils Lake. It is constantly cold, constantly snowy and (almost) constantly cloudy. These three aspects of winter weather are vastly different from the winters I experienced in the Denver burbs where I most recently lived.

If you are a regular reader of my column, you know its focus is adjusting to life in my hometown. There has been no bigger adjustment, by far, than trying to acclimate myself to ND winters after living nearly 30 years in a substantially warmer clime!

Wikipedia says December is the coldest month in Denver, with the average high being 44 degrees and the average low 18 degrees. In Devils Lake, the average high in December is 19 degrees and the average low is four degrees. As you can see DL’s average high is Denver’s average low. All I can say is brrrrrr, and I do on a very regular basis!

By constantly snowy, I don’t mean it’s constantly snowing, just that once it snows it’s constantly here. If memory serves me right, those giant snow/snirt piles in parking lots won’t melt until at least April. One of my friends who reads my column in another state and has never been to Devils Lake, or North Dakota, has asked me to send her some pics of our town, which she imagines as being country and quaint. I am definitely going to include a giant snow pile among the pics!

All my winter whining made me decide to try and lighten up, so I here is my own personal list of “Ten signs you live in a very frigid climate.”

  1. Temporary residents mark their time here by the number of winters (not years) they’ve lived here.
  2. The morning cop shop news briefing includes banter about fun, freezing water tricks when it gets to 20 below zero.
  3. Twenty below zero is not unusual.
  4. The town doesn’t shut down at 20 below zero, or at any point below or even near zero.

    This outdoor ice rink is in Ruger Park in Devils Lake. I had the rink to myself!

    This outdoor ice rink is in Ruger Park in Devils Lake. I had the rink to myself!

  5. Wind chill advisories are issued on a regular basis.
  6. People plug in their cars so they will start in the morning.
  7. The weather person says “we will experience a nice warming trend today from the overnight low of minus 10 to 15 above zero by noon.”
  8. Fast Eddie/aka Pops chastises you for not warming up your car because he says the cold is hard on the engine.
  9. The local lakes freeze solid and people find it enjoyable to drill holes in the ice to go ice fishing.10. The town holds a winter festival called Shiverfest.
The Zamboni making a lap between periods at a boy's high school hockey game at the Devils Lake's Burdick arena. I was snapping pics (of the game) for the Journal.

The Zamboni making a lap between periods at a boy’s high school hockey game at Devils Lake’s Burdick arena. I was snapping pics (of the game) for the Journal.

On a positive note, the days are now getting longer, we had a spell of a few sunny days and the temperature might hit 30 degrees this week, something I didn’t think we’d experience until March at least.  I also took my new ice skates for a test drive – on an outdoor rink no less!  And there really are only a couple more months of the really brutal winter stuff. I hope at least.

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One Response to A Winter of Constants: Adjusting to Life in My Hometown

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