The cold can't stop usby Jessica Mador, Minnesota Public Radio
Some hospitals reported an increase in frostbite and other cold-related cases this weekend as temperatures plunged to the coldest it's been since last winter.
But the dangerous temperatures didn't keep everyone inside, and lots of brave souls could be found around the Twin Cities, risking it in the name of work or just for fun.
St. Paul, Minn. — Richmond, Va., native John Davenport got his first real taste of Minnesota cold this weekend. He was out in Minneapolis Saturday afternoon, going door to door for Barack Obama, wishing he had worn a few more layers.
"Let's see. I got jeans and nothing under them -- I wish i had some sweatpants or something -- a jacket, fleece, another fleece, hat, gloves, I got the works. I'm warming up as we speak." Davenport said, "I need a face mask or something though."
Davenport and his Minnesota cousin Stephen Simrill are both freshmen at the University of Wisconsin. This is their first experience with political activism and Simrill says they're fired up, despite the sub-zero temperatures.
"It's just worth it," Simrill said. "It's worth it to get up early and come out here even on the coldest day in the year because we want to be proactive about making a difference."
Still, they were cold.
After about an hour of door-knocking, the volunteers rendezvous at the corner to exchange frozen war stories.
"My skin is cracking," joked Davenport.
"You had to get a pencil? My pen is frozen, entirely frozen," said volunteer Joe Steinberg, a law student at the University of Minnesota. "How are your feet?" Simrill asked.
"My feet are fine. I've been running from house to house, literally. But I ran into some nice people. At least it's not too windy," said Steinberg.
Temperatures ranged from about 10 to 30 below this weekend with windchills to 40 below in some spots. And like this woman, many of the residents the volunteers met were planning to stay inside.
"No, I'm staying in. I went out once with the dogs," she said. "Oh it was really cold."
Others weren't so lucky.
Over in St. Paul, Ron Clausen was busy delivering the mail for the US Postal Service.
"Your mustache has ice on it."
"Yes it does, it is cold out here. If it gets really cold then I'll put a face mask on but right now it ain't too bad for me. Hail, cold, it doesn't matter, we're out here," said Clausen.
Clausen spends at least four to five hours outside during a shift, depending on how much mail there is. He knows as much as anyone how to stay warm.
"Just keep moving and dress in layers," he said. "That's the main thing right there is dress in layers."
For most Twin Cities residents, staying inside seemed to be the most popular choice. There was barely a soul in sight even at popular winter destinations like the ski area at St. Paul's Como Park. But perhaps the best place to be was the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, where the temperatures were tropical and balmy.
Marketing Manager Michelle Furrer said at first she was surprised to see so many people out on such a cold weekend, but she said you can't blame them.
"Because of the different types of plants and animals in here there is a relative humidity of about 80 degrees, so definitely, once you walk in the door you can feel the warmth just kind of take over your body, so it's great," Furrer said.
Visitors strolled around with their jackets off checking out the sloth and the banana trees. For a moment, it was hard to remember how cold it really was.
Louise Ernewein volunteers at the conservatory and said it's always a great escape from the harsh winter temperatures.
"I've had people in the past saying how they come here throughout the winter just to keep them going until the Spring arrives, so it's definitely the place to come." she said. "They have been saying how relieved they are that St. Paul has this to come to, that they have this wonderful little oasis in the middle of the snow to come to and be warm."
With more subzero temperatures and snow predicted for much of the state this week, Minnesotans will no doubt have plenty of time to find new ways to keep warm.
- Morning Edition, 01/21/2008, 7:21 a.m.