I realized this holiday season that not everyone thinks Minnesota is the glowing heart of our country. The comment that “it must be hard to get people to move here because of the weather,” from an East Coaster, brought home this reality.

It also made me reflect on why I am here, why I stay, why there is no Florida condo in our future. The cold that has set in is a humbling sort of cold. We must adjust and bend to the whims of the weather. As my hairdresser said about walking to work: “ I just ‘gear up,’ and no matter what, I am fine.” We truly have no control over the cold: It’s greater than us.

That’s why I like it here. People choose to be here. They embrace being forced indoors to knit, read, ruminate, work, write, sing in choirs and hang out at museums. We also pray, do yoga, walk dogs quickly, watch the weather forecast before getting into the car to travel, smell snow coming, wear cleats on our boots, gear up, adjust, bow before the power of our planet. Ideas flow, experiments conclude, medical devices are made, sticky notes invented. We turn inward to create outward.

The weather limits us but also enhances us. For those still connected to schools, we like being in a warm classroom, especially teachers who plan for the day aware that there will be no recess, so the lesson must be especially brilliant. Because there’s little to do outside, learning takes center stage.

These are the gifts of winter. Creation, experimentation, revelation, socialization, contemplation. The bearing of pain created by cold. The unveiling of hope as each day creeps longer. The steaming mug of coffee relished before pushing oneself out the door. Winter light: the only colors blue, brown, white, gray, pine green. Our palette is limited, but illuminated by the cold sun.

Kris Potter lives in Minneapolis