Twenty-one below zero at breakfast Monday morning. That’s cold. At 2 p.m. I clipped my boots into my cross-country skis and started a 45-minute ski at William O’Brien State Park. It was up to 11 below. That’s still cold. I had on my long johns, a sweater, a stocking cap over my ears, a scarf over my mouth and nose, good gloves on my hands, and my well-worn down parka I had picked up for $14 a decade ago at Goodwill. Was I cold? No. In danger of frostbite? Again, no. After skiing a bit, I lowered the scarf and exposed my mouth and nose; neither became frostbitten.

What month is it, July?  No, it’s January. What state are we living in — North Denial? No, Minnesota. January. Minnesota. Subzero temperatures. This isn’t some evil Russian troika. This is simply a fact of life. It gets cold here in January. End of story. Let’s dress for it and then get outside and make the best of it.

A bit sadly, I had the ski trail all to myself. Sad, too, because Minnesota has some of the finest snow conditions this winter that we’ve seen in years.

Let’s hope that these exceptional snow conditions last, at least into March. Skiing at O’Brien on Monday was wonderful, and 11 below was neither dangerous nor uncomfortable with the proper clothing. Winter sets the terms. Accept them, and one can safely and comfortably get out and enjoy all that winter offers. This year, it’s offering exceptional conditions for outdoor activities. Greet them!

Dean C. Hansen lives in Stillwater.