“Bloom where you are planted.” This is a familiar quote that has always resonated with me at every stage in my life; from starting college, my first job, becoming a mom, and most recently our move to Duluth, Minnesota.
“Well, you better start looking for a new coat” my husband, a USAF pilot, muttered to me over the phone. These words will be etched in my memory forever. The other spouses and I had anticipated this day for a long time. After years of pilot training, we were finally getting our first “real” assignment. We knew the options, had dreamed and discussed them over and over, but ultimately it would come down to a roll of dice (literally, each pilot rolled dice to determine where they were going next! You can read more about the drop process here and here.). In case you are wondering, relying on a pair of dice to determine where you will live for the next three years is quite the anxiety inducer.
The spouses, who had quickly become my closest friends in the last six months during our current training base in Arizona, all sat around sipping Margaritas at our favorite Mexican restaurant. We laughed and talked, all nervously trying to pass the time until we heard from our husbands. Just like that, the calls started coming in and tears of joy and shock rolled in as quickly as the phone calls. For me, it was one of those defining, pull up your boot straps and slap a smile on moments. Unlike the other moves we had made in the military, this one would be more permanent (if you can even use that word in regards to the military) and completely out of my comfort zone.
“Duluth, Minnesota…Duluth, Minnesota..”I said the words in my mind over and over like a broken record. “-45 degree windchill, what?! Snow six months a year?” I thought to myself. This southern girl actually felt herself shudder as she researched her new home in the North. Fortunately, we had made dear friends who were from Duluth and would be moving back with us. Even with their reassuring comments and their sacred love for their hometown, I just wasn’t sure if I would survive. I realize how dramatic that sounds after being a Minnesota resident for six months. I am sure my Duluth friends are rolling their eyes right now. However, regardless of how dramatic it sounds, that was exactly how I felt.
For a Southerner, “a snow day” is a white dusting on the ground that simultaneously shuts down the entire town and bread runs out of every grocery store before the weatherman can even get the word “snowfall” out of his mouth. Imagining myself in a place where snow covers the ground for six to eight months out of the year and temperatures dip well below freezing, I knew for sure we would become shut-ins and freeze to death the first week. I was sure of it!
Clearly, I survived, but more than I that I feel like I have thrived. The first few weeks were difficult, but not impossible. I am slowly mastering the art of a trendy winter wardrobe and know the importance of quality snow boots and wool socks. I am getting my first pair of snowshoes this Christmas. I found out I actually really, really love snow. Minnesota summers are the definition of perfection in every way. Lake Superior is just as breathtaking in the winter as it is in the summer. Cold days are really just synonymous with more indoor play dates with other mamas and babies trying to get through the long winter, which in turn means close, dear friends. I have found community, discovered endless activities for my daughters, found a great local brew and the best cheese curds in the Midwest. I have put my toes in Lake Superior, and in the process have become more confident in myself. Although I am still finding my way, I am positive after our time by the Great North Shore, I will have successfully bloomed where I have been planted and I am sure that no matter where you may be, you can too!