Al Batt: Sending a Batt signal for Minnesota information

Published 6:28 pm Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt


An email came from a teacher and her fifth-grade class from Texas.

Email newsletter signup

The class was studying states and asked what Minnesota is like. How would you describe Minnesota to someone who has never been here?

I wanted to help without divulging things best known only by Minnesotans. There is an oath of secrecy attached to each birth certificate.

I’m a Minnesota boy. I wear Minnesota as a badge of honor. I have an enthusiastic appreciation for my home state.

  Minnesota is adorable. Let’s start with that. It’s the Gopher State. Go phigure.

Minnesota was the 32nd state to enter the Union. It should have been the 31st, but California elbowed ahead in line, claiming it had grapes to stomp.

We have more than 10,000 lakes. Why do our auto license plates claim only 10,000? It’s because we’re humble people and we’re very proud of that fact. Displaying the actual number of lakes for the entire world to see would be a bit much.

What is Minnesota like? Apparently, it likes bad weather. We put out a welcome mat, but it blew away. Weather humbles humble people. Minnesota is cool, especially in winter. Winter is a moat around the state. Winter supersizes itself. Survivors are allowed short bouts of conceit.

Minnesota has amazing apples, sweet corn and bald eagles. We eat two of those.

  Minnesota is good in spots. Minnesotans try to hang around those spots. Minnesota is surrounded by North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario and Manitoba, but we refuse to surrender.

Not every traffic jam involves a slow-moving vehicle sign. Campers and boats clog a road just as cholesterol clogs an artery. I’ve yet to see a motor home towing a car towing a boat towing a motorcycle trailer, but I will.

Minnesotans take recommendations to limit sodium with a grain of salt. We know gravy covers a multitude of sins. We eat deep-fried items impaled on sticks and hotdish. Pie is important. We refuse to shut our pie holes about pie.

We wear baseball caps as Texans wear cowboy hats. The caps are measured in bushels just as are corn and beans.

We share our DNA with mosquitoes. Minnesota scientists are creating a mosquito species that extracts fat instead of blood.

Telemarketers don’t understand us, but they have our number.

Even though many of us grew up in households where ketchup was considered an exotic spice, we’ve acquired a taste for spicy foods.

We have Lake Superior and schools superior, but Superior is in Wisconsin.

We have a state bird — the common loon. A state drink — milk. State fish — walleye. State fruit — Honeycrisp apple. State butterfly — monarch. State flower — showy lady’s slipper. State gemstone — Lake Superior agate. State grain — wild rice. State mushroom — morel. State sport — ice hockey. State tree — Norway pine (red pine). State soil: Lester. According to the Minnesota Association of Professional Soil Scientists — “Soil, we can’t grow without it” — Lester soils are in over 500,000 acres of 17 counties in south-central Minnesota. These soils formed under prairie and forest vegetation that has gone into agricultural production, principally corn and soybeans. Lester soils are well drained and formed in loamy, calcareous glacial till.

Minnesota’s state motto is “L’etoile du Nord” (“Star of the North”) and our state song is “Hail! Minnesota.” “Minnesota, hail to thee! Hail to thee, our state so dear! Thy light shall ever be a beacon bright and clear, Thy sons and daughters true will proclaim thee near and far, They shall guard thy fame and adore thy name, thou shalt be their Northern Star. Like the stream that bends to sea, like the pine that seeks the blue, Minnesota, still for thee, Thy sons are strong and true, from the woods and waters fair, From the prairies waving fair, At thy call they throng, with their shout and song, Hailing thee their Northern Star.”

That song was written in 1904 by two University of Minnesota students who wrote the homage without appearing to be bumptious gasbags. That University’s athletic teams are nicknamed the Gophers.

We vote, wring hands, scratch heads, split hairs and roll eyes.

Minnesota is a wonderful place to be. Some old-timers say the state has been better, but not by much.

If you can’t stop by for a visit, always remember that Minnesota is a nice place to drive through.

Oh, Minnesota has a state muffin of which we’re very proud. It’s the blueberry.

Some states don’t have a state muffin. That’s because they lack the forward thinking of Minnesota.

Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Saturday.