What is a typical Wisconsin winter?

When I decided to move from So Cal to Wisconsin, my biggest concern was getting through infamous Wisconsin Winter. No sun. Negative degrees. Several feet of snow. Icy roads. Cabin fever. At least that’s what they told me. But it’s January now and I find myself wondering, “Is this it?”

I Love Snow

The first time it snowed (as in not “dusting” or whatever but legitimate “snow”), I was so excited, I spent the half the day shopping Facebook Marketplace for cheap snowboard gear. Once I had a board and helmet, I took a few slides down the teeny hill in my backyard. Gjalla and I also played this game where I tried to shovel snow to build a snowman while Gjalla attacked the shovel like her new favorite stick.

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There's something different about this stick…

A post shared by Gjallahorn Rath (@meetgjalla) on

I love how many forms the snow can take. One evening the snow was so shiny it looked more like glitter. Most of the snow this winter has been soft powder. But even the powder snow takes different forms after it hits the ground. Sometimes walking through the snow reminds me of slicing through icing on a cake. I like walking through it and watching the solid white blanket turn into geometric blocks.


It’s surprising a So Cal girl would love snow so much, but there are a few factors that work in my favor. I work from home, which means I’ve never had to drive during snowfall or deal with icy roads. I’ve never had to shovel my driveway in a hurry, which is probably a good thing because I shovel more for fun than for efficiency. When I shovel the driveway, my goal is not to use the most efficient patterns, it’s to build the biggest piles of snow for Gjalla to dig into or leap over. I’m sure observers get a laugh out of my driveway shoveling antics, but Gjalla and I have too much fun to care.

It also helps I have a garage attached to my house, so my car has never been buried under snow. That hasn’t stopped my dear Civic from complaining however. One day I went to take Gjalla to her favorite dog park but my car refused to start. According to the Triple-A person who came to give my car a jump, my battery was just fine, it was just “a little cold.” Oh please. How can my car be more “So Cal Spoiled” than me? Okay, fine, it was single-digit cold that day, but my husband’s Civic started just fine. From that point on, I started putting an old comforter on top of my hood to keep my Civic warm through cold nights.

Negative Six and Sunny

I am solar-powered. When it’s overcast outside, I have no energy. Like a plant, I need the sun’s rays to run my basic metabolic functions. Like Super Girl, I get all my powers from the sun’s radiation. I would rather have it be cold and sunny than overcast and warm. Thus far this winter, I’ve gotten my wish! Even though we’ve had some negative temperature days, those days have been mostly sunny. Gjalla and I have been able to enjoy playtime outside even on the chilliest days. I have enough layers to keep me warm, and I’ve discovered a thin layer of Vaseline keeps my face from feeling the sting of the chilly air.

The Infectious Power of Pure Joy

It’s hard not to enjoy the snow when Gjalla looks so thrilled to roll around in it. When there’s an inch of snow on the ground, she wants to be outside all day. She is (atypically) vocal about this, especially if there are other dogs or small children enjoying the snow without her.

It’s not just rolling in the snow, it’s also the taste of snow. I can understand her fascination – I grew up eating Slurpees and Icees and Sno-Cones.

Gjalla’s joy and fascination with the snow are infectious, and I find myself mesmerized by the clean slate of a fresh snowfall. I love the pure white blanket – it’s beauty invokes excitement and an artistic urge, like the blank canvas at the beginning of a Bob Ross episode. Part of me wants to walk around the untouched snow, so it stays pristine. Most of the time I can’t help but walk through it to confirm how deep it is.

Melting and Muggles

It makes me sad when the snow starts to melt. It’s like the part in Harry Potter when the school year is over and he has to go back to the Dursleys. Born and raised in So Cal, having snow in my backyard is a magical experience. When that snow melts, it’s like a return to my normal Muggle life.

The good part about melting snow is the beautiful glass-like formations the snow leaves on the grass. Clear and thin, these small sheets of ice are pretty to look at and fun to stomp on.

The bad part about melting snow is how it creates mud. Gjalla loves rolling in the snow. She will walk around giant puddles of mud, but can’t resist the melted muddy snow.

Maybe my love for winter and snow will fade after several more Wisconsin winters. Maybe this isn’t a typical Wisconsin winter, and I’ve gotten lucky my first year here. Only time will tell, but thus far, this winter hasn’t been nearly as dreadful as I feared. At this moment, I look forward to more snow.


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