Erin O'daniel is a writer, artist and gender expansive womxn living in Duluth, Minnesota


“In the depths of winter I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer.” -Camus

I love the outside of summer and inside of winter. This seasonal contrast makes me feel the varying colors and flavors of seasonal intimacy in Minnesota. As I’ve just shifted into my bulkier wardrobe, I find myself feeling less sexy and more strategic. And not about how to get gurls into my bed. I plan how many layers I need to wear for my next speed walk from warm, expansive third floor Ballroom apartment overlooking Lake Superior to cold small car.

While I appreciate how this dark season connects me with my quieter self and slows community building, intimacy is a strange thing once we shift from hard core play to reserved introspection. Summer here is about long days that stretch themselves out from five am until past ten pm. Within that huge frame, endless fun is had outside. My skin glows and bronzes. I connect with crushes waterside on soft square blankets. Large meals and coordinated outfits become secondary to small snacks and bathing suits.

Summer is intimacy. With each other and rock and trees and waves and subtle wind. Winter we curl around ourselves trying to escape the elements, cracked hands, hissing radiators. This juxtaposition makes me wonder about how to maintain a high level of intimacy with other and time. My blog explores the sexual climate of northern Minnesota. I think constantly about how we relate and present ourselves as sexual beings- what influences how we think and talk and feel about sex. This post is about intimacy with months of a year. I’m exploring how and why I’m in conflict with the climate of this time of year.

In summer, my willingness to be spontaneous goes through the roof. Want to meet down by the water? I’m there in 30 minutes flat. Bike ride? I’ll load my Bianchi onto top of my car and be pedaling away from my favorite trailhead an hour later. Make out under the white pine? Allow me to do all the pleasuring. If the sun is out and wind is slight, I’m all in.

During summer, with friends, lovers, family by my side or flying solo, I’m consistently having fun by being in motion. Winter stills. A profound shift occurs. I go from spending satisfying time with my home’s wildness to navigating the wildness of my head. A weekend away with a lover is needed to escape, look beyond the process of “surviving” myself  and the thermometer everyday.

Intimacy just happens in summer. In winter, intimacy requires special plans, getaway adventures, great art. The default is to be with oneself, cozy, inside, introspective. Why does home become heavy during this time? As if it’s the only place and must hold everything- crowding out the impulses to touch, taste, linger with other. My body softens and I want to do less. How I design my days shifts too. Spaciousness is a significant part of my life. As a writer, I need it like I need water and food. Here in winter the inside is safe, the place I want to explore.

In winter, I want to be alone and know I must balance out this hermit, hiving, hibernating inclination. DAMN!  it takes such energy. I think of summer Pride parades where nakedness is the norm, being pressed up against others’ bodies at festivals is everyday fun.

Summer is glitter and sex. Winter is wool and relationships. I recognize what all lend to my life. The lightness of summer is easy to befriend. The stodgy wisdom of winter is parental and “necessary” to escape.  I fight winter, find a few moments of respect and awe. I wonder how I might do it differently. Be a better partner to this season. Snowbirding longer stretches than just spending holidays down south? Infuse less routine- like making myself go hiking daily with my dog.

Intimacy is sharing and caring, being vulnerable, trusting. How can I be more intimate with winter? What parts of you have I left untouched and ignored dark season? I love the pristine beauty and infinite quiet outside. I adore the dark, cold mornings that call out “Stay in bed and write, write, write.” Creatively, it’s my most prolific season.

I wonder about taking the resistance to the cold out of my head. Is it possible when it literally hurts to go outside-even when dressed extremely well? I have all the gear. Is it allowing the roller coaster of “I’m so cozy & content” to “God-for-saken Fuck This!!” to just keep cycling through my head?

My focus on the things that do bring me pleasure is strong. I’ve learned that to survive this season is to constantly notice what brings me joy. Books, libraries, swimming, sledding, cooking in a warm kitchen, snowshoeing. Yet this still feels like avoiding true intimacy with winter. Shifting my attention, positive thinking versus feeling an emotion deep down and allowing it to pass.

How can I become more intimate with winter? Do I want to? And what does this intimacy lend to understanding the sexual climate of my home? I do shield myself in  layers, plan out the calendar to make it to May, pretend I like the stuffy insides of cafes and coffee shops. Where’s the easier magic here with you Winter? Or are we just never meant to fall in love? Am I forcing a relationship?

Invincible summer minus the people is my dream romance. What will glitter like fresh snow all around me when I accept finally, fully that?


Why Not? Lots of Intimacy