By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Feb 15, 2021 at 6:01 PM Photography: Instagram/Nikki Lily

Listen: We're Wisconsinites. We know the deal. We know living here comes complete with frigid temperatures, an extra 20 minutes added to our commutes thanks to the need to scrape off our cars and the need for extensive snow shovel expertise. We normally wouldn't complain about the winter; this is the devil's bargain we've cut in exchange for summer festivals, beer, cheese and Aaron Rodgers.

But this year, Mother Nature's being... well, another less endearing phrase that starts with "mother."

It's not all bad, though. It's kept us inside during a pandemic, for one. And soon, the forecasts will warm back up into the balmy 20s. (Woo, shorts weather!) Plus, while the polar vortex-esque winter chill feels far from beautiful, it does result in some mesmerizing images of our city and our state. And nearly any of our local features – from the famous to the mundane – look surreal and spectacular when glimmering in ice and snow. It's gorgeous; and, best of all, you don't have to bundle up like Ralphie's brother in "A Christmas Story" to see it for yourself thanks to the eye-catching work of local photographers and social media. 

Here is the beauty of the winter wonderland that we call Wisconsin that you missed while staying warm inside binge-watching "Bridgerton."

1. Sub-zero soothing

Sit back, relax and calm yourself down by watching this oddly therapeutic video of the coldest water you'll ever want to see. You might even be able to convince yourself those floating ice chunks are clouds on a sunny day!

2. Catching some waves ... and frostbite

Even the surfer risk addicts from "Point Break" would say pass. 

3. It's so cold, even color migrated to warmer climes

It's so cold, everything now looks like a sad French arthouse film. 

4. Cold contrasts

I love the color and textures of this photo – the gravelly orange and brown rust, the diamond-like shimmering ice, rough metal meeting delicate ice. I love it almost as much as I love getting to see it while sitting indoors under five layers of blankets. 

5. The fortress of solitude 

I don't even know what I'm looking at; I just know it's gorgeous and too cold. 

6. Cold on cold

I heard you like pictures of ice and cold, so I put a layer of icy cold in front of your icy cold image. 

7. Lighthouse, dark clouds

The only way this lighthouse could get any more gorgeously surreal and mesmerizingly intimidating is if you added Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe slowly going insane and yelling about lobster. 

8. Nature's Pier 1

All of that beautiful, crystal-clear ice. So gorgeous. So lovely. So asking to be satisfyingly smashed into icy bits. 

9. Frozen freight

Look at that sun in the corner, pretending like it's nice and warm outside, luring you out with its LIES. 

10. Cold-blooded competitors 

Look, we found the only three people happy about the current weather forecasts!

11. But what about waffle ice?

The good news: Pancake ice is, delightfully, a real term to despite these unusual rounded ice formations. The bad news: Pancake ice is still not warm and still doesn't go great with maple syrup. 

12. Bridge over troubled troublingly cold water

It's a lovely photo – and a great reminder that, while there are many roads out of town to warmer places, Wisconsin's the only place you'd want to be. (Well, OK, maybe Hawaii too this time of year.)

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.