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This winter I am mentally challenging myself to go back to a time when snow didn’t equal: shoveling, cold, scraping, more snow, more shoveling, etc.

Instead I’m returning to the North Dakota snow of my childhood. The kind that brings rampant excitement and frankly, abject disappointment when the weather man says “snow tonight” and you wake up to find none.

To often, North Dakota gets saddled with the it’s “cold and snowy,” like it is a bad thing. Honestly, it isn’t bad at all, it is simply a reality of our position on the Earth. We do not live on the equator, in fact, we live in a place where four seasons is a given. Winter, spring, summer and fall arrive every year, each with some amazing opportunities for recreation and fun. And, all have a few things that we can complain about. Why? For the same reason everyone complains: Because we can.

Sometimes, I think we complain more about winter because it’s an easy victim. However, whenever I challenge people to remember something fun about winter, they often go back to their childhoods. Those were the days when winter meant snow angels and forts, family snowball fights and school snow days, none of which felt like work or cold.

So this year, I’m building more forts and making more snowballs. For the first snow accumulation and all those after I am making a snow angel. I’m remembering the wintry North Dakota from my childhood when sledding was my job and shovels were for building forts.

Remember when your mother used to yell at you for going out when it was 20 below and getting your ears so red they could have called you Rudolph, and you didn’t care. Why? Because the simple joy of winter had too much pull.

North Dakota covered in snow called to us as children. It begged us to come and play, to build, create, explore, laugh and enjoy the beauty that is winter.

It calls you now. Do you hear it, or have you chosen not to listen?

Note: Thanks to Ambassador Carolyn Desper for sharing a North Dakota memory with us. It was just such a heart-warmer, we needed to share. Enjoy.

By Carolyn Desper, North Dakota Ambassador

I moved to North Dakota from Arizona when I was sixteen. My mother wanted to move closer to her family and aging mother. The company my father worked for was helping build the power plants going up around Beulah in the late seventies, he requested a transfer, and without much hesitation, if any, his company approved the transfer.

 Mom warned my sister and I what to expect from North Dakota winters, but like any teenager, I did not really believe what she said. I knew about snow, we had lived in the mountain ranges of California and it snowed there. We were living in the high desert of Arizona and it snowed. But in both places the snow would come and go through the winter and an entire day below zero rarely happened, as I recall.

We moved in late winter early spring of 1978, the second half of a long winter as I understood. We lived in a hotel waiting to move into our house which was slowly being put together (a modular home). My father became ill, and had to go to the hospital in Hazen. The doctor wanted to send him to Bismarck for surgery, but the ambulance crew reported the roads were being closed due to a blizzard. I believe it was April. The company dad work for passed out buttons that said “I survived the winter of 77-78.” Still I did not experience anything like my mother had told us about before leaving Arizona.

Then the next winter came and I was in for a surprise as all she had told us came true. The sky can be bright blue, the sun shining, birds singing, and it can still be way below zero!!!

Despite the winters I have come to love North Dakota. I have been offered the opportunity to move away more than once and have chosen to stay. My own children have grown and moved away, but every time they tell me I need to move closer to them, I smile and tell them “No.” One daughter tells me she hopes to return and raise her children here. I hope the growth of our state continues and she and her spouse can return and work here.

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