Al Batt: What’s it like to live in state of Minnesota?

Published 9:26 pm Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Tales From Exit 22 by Al Batt

Going from here to the weather at home is like being born on third base and stealing second.

I wrote that line for a Texas publication years ago while traveling from the nearly tropical weather of the Lower Rio Grande Valley area of south Texas to a blizzard in progress at home in good old Minnesota.

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Despite the blizzard, I was happy to get home.

I was in Tennessee and Kentucky recently. I was in those lovely locations to speak. I love speaking gigs. I get to meet so many nice people.

A Tennessean asked me what it was like to live in Minnesota. A Kentuckian asked if the children in Minnesota were all above average as Garrison Keillor has claimed.

I’ll address the second question first. Minnesota has a fine educational system. Our kids are taught the right way and I can prove it. They play, “Duck, duck, gray duck.” Any grandparent could tell you that some children are above average and some are below average, but most are average. It’s the grandchildren that are all above average.

I get many questions about what it’s like to live in Minnesota. I answer that Minnesota is the No. 1 state in the production of sweet corn, sugar beets, turkeys, green peas and Minnesotans. Most of the questions I get are really asking about the weather. Our winter weather often has a starring role on The Weather Channel. The common loon is our state bird. It’s a lovely creature, but some folks reckon that winter makes each Minnesotan a lunatic.

We don’t get The Weather Channel here at The Batt Cave. We have to go outside to see how bad the weather is. It’s like being sent under the bed to check for monsters.

Some years ago, a family from Mississippi moved to the area. I tried to warn them before they bought a house. “Go around,” I said.

They asked me what an average winter was like.

“I don’t know,” I replied politely.

“Haven’t you lived here long?” asked the family spokesman.

“I’ve lived here all my life,” I said.

“But you don’t know what an average winter here is like?” It was the Spanish Inquisition.

I sighed and informed, “We’ve never had an average winter.”

Our winters come when they want and stay as long as they desire. All winters are long, but the shortest ones are honey on the hamburger. Old Man Winter is the oldest thing on earth that isn’t a member of the Rolling Stones. Some people believe winter always comes too early. There is no argument that this year’s came early. One day the flyswatter was a buzzer beater. The next, I wanted to beat a snowflake with my snow shovel. Some years, winter sneaks up on us and it’s like being stoned to death by popcorn.

Some residents of the Gopher State have to double-dog dare themselves to hunker down and winter here. Others, believing that our winters are intended for immature audiences only, become snowbirds and migrate southward.

I’ve lived in Minnesota all my life. My parents almost lost me once, but they hadn’t taken me far enough into the woods.

I’ll stay here for the winter. What’s the use of reading all but the last chapter of a book? I love seeing the pristine beauty of a new snowfall and the way it tidies the countryside. I enjoy seeing the great work done by those who move our snow as they turn mountains into molehills. I find pleasure in hearing the long list of school closings as I remember the joy that brought me when I was a boy. No matter how extraordinary a winter is, it’s an ordinary thing. Life is more beautiful when I find beauty in ordinary things.

A friend said that unless I’ve lived somewhere else, I have no idea what it’s like to live elsewhere. I, as a long-married man, found it easy to answer, “You’re right.”

I like it here. Maybe I don’t know any better, but I’m OK with that. Home feels like home. There is a sense of place.

What’s it like to live in Minnesota?

Even though we’ve never had an average winter, life is about average. That means that things are getting better all the time. It’s what I’m used to. Each day brings challenges, but along with them comes enough things for a mouth with five sets of teeth to smile about.

Bad weather and all, these are the good old days.

And that’s swell.

Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.