Pondering Duluth

In Columbus we are feeling sorry for ourselves, because this winter has been terrible, with multiple days of sub-zero temperatures and lots of snow. (Of course, it’s snowing, again, as I write this.) People try to maintain a positive attitude about it, and the weather is a frequent topic of conversation and gallows humor, but you can tell it’s having an impact. Psychologists say the harsh winter across much of the country has caused an increase in the number of people dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder.

All of which raises a question: how in the world do people live in Duluth, Minnesota?

Duluth is a port city at the western edge of Lake Superior and is home to more than 80,000 hardy souls. This year, Duluth set a record for the most consecutive days in which the temperature fell below zero. For 23 consecutive days — from January 19 until at least February 11 — Duluthers had to deal with day after frigid day of sub-zero conditions. What’s more, Duluth is likely to set the record for the most days of below-zero temperatures in a winter. As of February 11, the temperature in Duluth had fallen below zero on 56 days, and the all-time record is 59 days. Oh yes . . . and the lake on which Duluth sits is almost completely frozen over.

How do the 80,000+ residents of Duluth do it? How do they steel themselves to deal with day after day of brutal, invasive cold, skin scorched raw by frigid air, and frozen scarves, stocking caps, and balaclavas. How do they face the mass amounts of snowfall, constant use of snow blowers and snow shovels, and looking out over a gray, frozen lake? What tricks or secrets could Duluthers teach the rest of us to help us maintain a positive outlook in the face of winter’s onslaught?

They must really like ice fishing.

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