Snow is a welcome sight for resident of Tennessee

Published 1:54 am Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Column: Notes from Nashville, by Andrew Dyrdal

I arrived in Minnesota last week for the first time in eight months, finally ending my avoidance of Midwest winters and seeing accumulated snow for the first time in nearly two years.

The white powder was a welcomed sight. We haven’t needed a weatherman in Nashville this winter to predict that it’s going to be 35 degrees and cloudy every day. Grey skies and bare trees get old after a while.

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Middle Tennessee, like most places around the country, suffered its coldest January this year since 1985. Nashville reached single digits seven times and was in the teens nine times, but even though we went through two- and three-day stretches where the temperature didn’t creep above freezing, it never snowed.

Before my fiance and I began the 12-hour drive back to Albert Lea, we became excited to be a part of a proper winter — one where the cold temps are justified by mounds of snow and utilized with ice skating and sledding. In Kentucky we saw our first glimpse of it, and by the time we arrived in Iowa, we were surrounded.

Rachel and I stayed in Albert Lea and northern Iowa for four nights, and it was largely uneventful. We went to our favorite restaurants and spent time with friends and family, but it was Saturday that I really felt like I was home.

I had breakfast early that morning at the B&B Cafe in Albert Lea and ordered what I usually get, a pancake with a sausage patty and coffee. I chatted with my grandpa and our friend, Rich, and subtly caught glimpses of the United States and Russia’s hockey game’s score on Twitter. With a few minutes remaining in regulation, I began watching the game on my iPhone and by the overtime and shootout periods, all three of us were huddled around my phone’s four-inch display to see if the Americans could pull an upset over the home team as we waited for our food.

I could sense a buzz around the small diner as Warroad’s T.J. Oshie scored four shootout goals to lead the U.S. to victory, and even better I was watching a Minnesotan steal the show in his homestate.

It dawned on me then that between T.J. Oshie and Breck’s Blake Wheeler, I saw two Olympic men’s hockey players play in high school against Albert Lea in the 2004 and 2005 state tournaments.

I went straight from breakfast to Glenville where I joined by dad in an afternoon of pickleball with a couple of his friends in an indoor court. I only heard from word of mouth what the sport was but knew it was gaining popularity in Albert Lea. I can see why.

I assumed — as an avid tennis and table tennis player — I would adapt to the game quickly, but I was surprised to learn how fast-paced and dynamic the game was. I had to hit the ball very hard to get it to soar across the net and my reflexes were tested more than they are in any other racquet sport.

We played for nearly 2 1/2 hours, but I could’ve played much longer as only my legs were tired.

Watching a Minnesotan win an Olympic game for the Americans over Russia and playing pickleball were two of the most Minnesota things I did while in town. That, and re-learning how to drive across snow-covered roads.

 Andrew Dyrdal’s column appears in the Tribune each Tuesday.