My family moved to Bemidji, MN from Denver, CO when I was 4. I remember telling people we were moving to a place that was so hot in the summer you couldn’t wear any clothes and so cold in the winter, you had to wear all your clothes. It’s not untrue for Minneapolis, where yesterday’s gear included 3 skirts, 3 tights, 2 pair of wool socks, a shirt, a turtleneck, 2 wool sweaters, a down coat, lined leather mittens, two scarves, and a lined hat with ear flaps. That said, despite living in Minnesota since then, I’ve only started winter city exploring in the last few years. One of the most confusing things to me is how to know when the ice is safe to walk on. Yesterday we walked hugging its edge, where I knew if I went through, I’d be in knee-high water. I looked for evidence of safety: someone was icefishing; bits of lake 25 feet out were spraypainted; the snowy footsteps of someone with bigger feet than mine; the circular marks of ice skating; a parent and child sliding about together. I crouched to estimate the depth of ice faces and the stacking of ice bubbles. I avoided the areas near storm drain inlets and anywhere the “danger, thin ice” signs were. But still, there were moments when the ice made noises ice shouldn’t make even as the two of us stood ten feet apart. Late last winter, I called the DNR to ask how I could learn more about ice safety. They told me I can only know this by coring the ice myself or calling my nearest bait shop (Joe’s didn’t know, ftr). And yet I’d been on lakes for hours a day for months, with my fellow solo winterers, with the tracks of feet and bikes and two kinds of skiing and even one unwelcome car, with the ice skating rink and the entire Loppet festival of people. There’s a disconnect here, a distance between the ice people and the rest of us. I want to be safe, but when neither the stare DNR nor the Park Board can tell me whether the most-visited lake in the entire state is safe to walk on, when there are no classes, no tip sheets, no radio announcements? It feels...problematic, exclusionary, unwelcoming. The joy of winter is fathomless, irresistible, necessary. How do we invite one another into it, safely and openly?