Spent the holidays out of town. Arizona, to be exact, a state Minnesota has been stealthily colonizing for decades. Everyone knows someone who decamped for the sun-seared cities and now lives in a low brown house with rocks for a lawn and a plant out front that could stab you to death if you fell into it.

I love AZ, but half of the flora evolved with the specific intention of killing anything that tried to get its water.

It's as if our hostas lept from the ground and went for your throat if you got too close with the edger. Other than that, sure: I could live there. Couldn't you?

Ah, but would you. That warmth changes you. Makes you soft.

It rained most of the week, so people cranked up the heat to 80 in the car and turned on the seat warmers to full hot-cross-buns level, because you see so many old-timers who lost their buttocks in the Near-Freeze of '72. I pointed out that they had more degrees than Al Franken had new recount votes, and they nodded. It's all relative. If you lived here, you'd be cold now, too.

Not the best tourist slogan, but I knew what they meant. It's seductive. There's a weak, cowardly part of you that enjoys standing outside at night without dying or having to whack your hand against the wall for five minutes to get feeling back in your fingers. Many of us keep the concept of Arizona in the back of our head, bringing it out on a raw February day when the idea of walking around the block with exposed flesh has a rueful, half-remembered charm. But last week I missed the snow. We'd left in the teeth of a blizzard, heard reports of howling winds and double-digit-below temps, and it sounded perfect. It sounded like Christmas.

That's one of the things we Minnesotans do right, after all. A wet Santa leaning face down into a cactus isn't the same, especially if you imagine the screams.

Mail this column to me in February, and I'll take back every word.

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858 More daily at www.startribune.com/buzz.