Archived Story

The beauty and humor of Minnesota

Published 9:17am Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Column: Tales from Exit 22

It was 33 degrees below zero.

That’s right. It had to warm up 33 degrees just to get to zero.

Anyone who doubts there is a God needs to come to Minnesota in the spring or fall. Anyone who doubts that God has a sense of humor needs to come to Minnesota in the winter.

I was walking with a lifelong Floridian. She was here because her husband, an avid birder, wanted to look at some northern Minnesota birds. She was an SOB — spouse of birder. She wore more clothes than I owned. Her boots and pants cuffs showed annoying road salt stains. The weather was a topic of conversation because it had to be. She said many things about Minnesota weather — most of which I cannot repeat here.

I suggested a stop at a lemonade stand to cool off with an icy drink. That set her off. She said, “It’s so Minnesota here. How do you stand it? Why would anyone move here?”

I told her that she should move here. She’d be surprised at the state she’d be in. She’d have to say “Uffda.” We do. If she moved in January, she’d avoid the crowds and would be able to walk on water. We need all the people we can get to provide body heat. I live every day of winter adhering to the advice of the guy who wrote “stay cool” in my high school yearbook. I asked her not to drive here. We have enough cars on the road. If she wants to feel welcome, she should bring money.

Minnesota is different, just like every other state. Despite popular belief, it’s not a state law that every Minnesota city has to have a Dairy Queen and at least three Lutheran churches. Minnesotans like certain foods — perhaps too much. I pour gravy on my lawn and the neighbors keep the grass chewed low.

Minnesota is bigger than Rhode Island and smaller than Alaska. Minnesota became a state in 1858. That same year, something else happened. Coincidence? I think not. We have a bunch of lakes — more than 10,000. Most of them are named Mud, Long or Rice.

Minnesota’s population is 5,303,925, almost all of whom watch Vikings’ games on Sundays. Some claim the Vikings are the largest religion in the state. Fans play games where they try to guess which ex-Viking made a certain license plate.

Minnesotans are stubborn but polite. We wouldn’t take a suggestion on how to swim if we were drowning, but we would be thankful for it. We know better than to drive in blizzards, but we do anyway. Minnesotans ice fish — it’s like regular fishing only colder. Even the fish wear long underwear. We vote the right way, whichever way that is. If we don’t have anything nice to say, we say it about the weather and the taxes. Most of us think the Mall of America is a little much. We eat Honeycrisp apples and Spam. We have wind turbines that are supposed to make electricity, but produce wind. So do our politicians. We are the state for anyone who is fond of wind.

Our weather has more personality than an onion sandwich. We have weather almost every day. Minnesota has hot, cold, still, windy, wet, dry, snowy, rainy, sleet, hail and weather that is unnamed — all in the same day. Some days, we have the heat and the air conditioner on at the same time. We dress accordingly. Winter is so big that it beeps when it backs up. We need winter because we own winter coats. When she becomes a Minnesotan, she will learn that she could wait for perfect weather or make do with the weather she gets. A season can leave abruptly as if angered by our presence or it can linger, hating to leave. Life is too short not to enjoy the change of seasons. Life is too long not to enjoy the change of seasons.

If the woman likes being around people just like her, Minnesota is the place for her. She should become a member of the brave, the proud, the gopher. If she’d move here for her arthritis, she’d likely get it.

The frozen Floridian grumbled, “Minnesota might be a nice place to live, but I wouldn’t want to visit here.”

I understood and told her that if she wouldn’t move to Minnesota, I hoped she would wave when she goes by. Minnesota is a great state to drive by.

If I could move anywhere, it would be to here.


Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.