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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Plus I'm Already Here

I had a comment, a few days back, from someone who wanted to know why in the world I would live in Minnesota, knowing full well that, several times a year, the weather would try to kill me.

I wept, of course. She would never know the lure of the State of Minnesota, its shape pleasantly reminiscent of a pitcher of beer, the haunting calls of its loons, the erstwhile Minnesota Vikings.

I have lived in Minnesota and Wisconsin all my life. I'm not sure why I haven't moved to somewhere warm. I worry about that, sometimes.

Why do I continue to live in this part of the world?

So I sat down, went looking inside my head for what I could tell her, what I could tell you: the people who know not the sensation of a freezing eyeball on an increasingly bleary January morning or the burning red cheeks of the heartily, healthily cold.

Sit back. The list of both pros and cons is staggering.

Pros:

We're an easygoing people. Very live-and-let-live. Frankly, it's not so much that we're cool with whatever you're doing, we just don't want to know. Whatever you're doing, just keep it at your place. Mow your yard, shovel your sidewalk, keep your dogs quiet, and we'll get along fine.

We're an attractive people: bright eyed and prompt and every one of us, as Garrison says, "above average". I can personally guarantee that 90% of my friends are really quite attractive. Ask them! They'll tell you.

We have good public schools. To those of you on the wrong side of the Atlantic (booya!) I believe that means something different. I forget, right now, just what the difference is, but I'm sure you'll figure it out.

And what about location, location, location? Witness our reasonably-natured friends, the Canadians, our northern border. You don't get better neighbors than that. There's a lot of land up there, a lake or two, as I recall; and Mother Nature and our shared stand-offish natures ensure that we continue to nod at each other on the road and just keep on going. There are no US/Canadian skirmishes in Minnesota.

Complete attitude adjustments every three months -- tell me that doesn't sound good to you! Tell me you don't want to know the wonder of the giddy day that you can step outside in a pair of shoes (not boots) that tread on dry concrete (not the striated, potholed surfaces of the last four - five months!) Who doesn't remark upon the moment they see the young people in the park, throwing balls at each other, daring to wear hopeful shorts, momentarily-shocking tank tops, exposing more flesh than you've noticed on another human being in months.

That there is worth the price of admission.

But then, see, that's where we, in the interest of time and space, start running into problems. Because now we have to look at

Cons:

Truth be told, there have been an influx of ugly people lately. Some of them are identified, not visually, but aurally. You just have to listen and you'll learn more than you wanted to know. Yes, yes. We hear you. Now shut up about it already. Pull up your pants, take your hat off in a restaurant, wipe your shoes off at the door, lower your voices, and try not to be a jackass.

Especially that last one. I specifically recall my Mom and Dad instructing me that I should try not to be a jackass.

My Mom and Dad told me, now I'm telling you. We good?

And then there's the clothing. Have you considered what living in Minnesota does to one's wardrobe, the constant shifting of "summer clothes" and "winter clothes"? Of varying lengths of jackets and coats? I live in a house with two closets -- apparently those people had, honestly, four changes of clothing. Four!

But I digress.

Please believe me when I tell you that the clothes I am wearing (jeans, cotton long-sleeved tee under a butt-length-ed, long-sleeved dark red cashmere sweater -- garage sale find #6 for the '09 season as part of a $2 as-much-as-you-can-put-in-here brown paper bag) is nothing like the no-sleeved cotton dress I was wearing four months ago. The cotton dress is rolled up tightly and stuffed into a long, flat Tupperware container under the bed, awaiting seasonal dispensation.

The tricky part, of course, is that you own these things, these things you wear for a limited time of the year and then you put them away, yes? And then the seasons shift again, you re-introduce the cotton dress to your wardrobe only to find that it has, inexplicably, shrunk. It's the damnedest thing.

Oh, and then there's the extreme swings in temperature. Possibly -50 Fahrenheit? Possibly 112 Fahrenheit? The weather wants to kill you, but you can't let it. Really it's best if you just think of it as a game.

So why do I stay?

I stay for the people, really. As you stay for yours. Especially the sharp, funny, kind, flawed ones.

Still. I should get out of Minnesota more often. And really, we should all get together more often -- I mean, times when we're not trying to kill each other -- and have a beer or go swimming (but not at the same time, unless you're into that sort of thing) or go see a movie or something.

Could we see a movie and then go have a beer?

Actually, that sounds pretty good. Let's plan on that. But let's do it somewhere warm.

35 comments:

CJ said...

I'm stupider than you. I actually lived in the south for three or four years and then MOVED BACK knowing the weather would try to kill me...multiple times....every year. Ugh.

Jess said...

Movie, beer. IN. However, there is nothing I hate more than being cold. However, last year I took a trip to Colorado to go skiing. And by skiing I mean that I sat at the bar at the top of the mountain while everyone else went skiing. It was supposedly 12 degrees on top of that mountain, but what they say about the air being more dry DOES make a difference!

I was perfectly content up there on that mountain at 12 degress.

At 50 degrees here in Savannah I am ready to start a fire and have 15 layers of clothes on. The humidity makes for horrible bone chilling cold!

Menopausal New Mom said...

Well, I just might decide to visit Minnesota, not a bad list and I can relate to weather trying to kill ya. Thanks for the nice things you said about us up here north of the border!

MamaOtwins+1 said...

And now you have made it sound a lot nicer. But as I sit looking at the US map on my wall (yes I do have one). I look at NC and then Minnesota and damn that is really far north.

Douglas said...

I, too, would like to visit Minnesota. Expect me in August. Maybe July if summer comes early. You will recognize me, I'll be the one in the sweater. I do not understand why anyone lives north of Orlando, truly I do not. I have tried it. Total disaster. I even spent a few weeks in Ohio in February. A year plus in northern Virginia. The first 9 years of my life in New York state (out on Long Island). So I know about winter. Keep it up there in the north. Please. Winter where I live means having to put on long pants (my "big boy" pants) when I play golf.

lisleman said...

you answered it with "lived in Minnesota and Wisconsin all my life". Mostly it comes down to what you are used to and family connections. Some people say it toughens you up - well a hurricane, 110+ heat must really toughen people. I'm wishing for as few days below 20 as possible.

My name is PJ. said...

You had me at 'shaped like a pitcher of beer'!

I was intrigued by the ugly people/jackasses and the mysterious shrinking clothing.

You did a really good job with this!!!!!!!!

Kurt said...

Canadians are just trouble waiting to happen. They HAVE the polar bears, Pearl! Sheesh!

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

Sure the cold is a spiteful bitch but where else do you REALLY get to experience all the four seasons? Sometimes all in the same day. I have never seen a bigger bunch of crybabies than someone who experiences REAL cold for the first time. I actually was in the far far Canadian North when the third coldest day on record for the PLANET happened. After that even 0 degrees seem balmy. Because we have to be inside with each other Canadian have better social skills and senses of humor that almost any other country.

Lori E said...

So Kurt, just was is it you have against polar bears? I'm just asking?
Us West coast Canadians in the southern part of the province are often seen out jogging in shorts in December and January. Not that it isn't chilly but we are tough and can take it. (like I would jog, ha)
My brother ran his hockey schools in Wisconsin and Minnesota for years. Not that he lived there mind you. He took up residence in Florida but would visit you guys once in a while. I would imagine he wouldn't have even needed an ice rink as they could have played anywhere.

powdergirl said...

Sometimes I come here and its like listening inside my own head, but way more fun!

As a former Southern Manitoban, I hear ya on all fronts, including the cold ones. Hate to admit it but living these past 20 years in the West has lessened my tolerance for cold considerably. But I retain my prairie friendliness and humor most of the time.

Why just yesterday I resisted the urge to pull a broad through her window and smash her head repeatedly against the asphalt. See how nice and reasonable I still am?

Kurt, if you're in a place where there's polar bears, and its not a Zoo, you've got bigger things to fear than the bears themselves, or even the cold.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

As I was driving to work on this zero-degree day across town from Pearl, I too was thinking about the people who aren't familiar with our winters.

They don't know the fun of driving with what we like to call square tires. That's when the flat surface that meets the street remains flat because the tire has solidified in that shape. Ker-thump, ker-thump, times four, all the way down the street. C'mon, try it, it's fun!

@eloh said...

Having done 20 years in hip deep snow in the Midwest... my old bones chose the stiffling heat and humidity of the Deep South.

Eskimo Bob said...

Some new commentary some same - ahh it's like nice pee in the pants. . . no, you're right that didn't make any sense. . .

where was I?

Ahh yes - pee.

No, that's not it.

Oh well - you get it.

Courtney said...

Nicely put, Pearl, don't cha know, hey :-)

the fly in the web said...

No,I can't do it. I had the warmish - in comparison - weather of the U.K. in my youth and it formed me for life.

If you're getting together, what about Costa Rica? It's hottish, can be wettish..should be a perfect contrast.

Madame DeFarge said...

Well, I'll just move over there right now. Get the spare room ready.

fingers said...

You're all like those dopey penguins marching their dopey, feezing asses off in Antarctica...

miladawley said...

一起加油吧 ........................

darsden said...

Hey Pearl :-)) (uhmmm are you getting my emails?) Could you zip me a note to verify I have it right Please.

mapstew said...

It must be the people. Why else would I stay HERE? :¬)

xxx

The Things We Carried said...

Pearl,

You really do make me laugh :)!

Lisa said...

I love the upper Midwest. I really do.

tattytiara said...

This Canadian's actually descended from Minnesotans, so you see how I've got it goin' on from every angle!

rakkasa said...

Ah, yes, prairie winters... -Canadian- prairie winters were featured in my growing up years. I still remember the frostbite, the ice on my eyelashes, and the warm water poured over my tongue to release me from that metal door handle that -looked- like a popsicle... I also remember the sense of neighbourly camaraderie whenever another blizzard hit, and there you are again, shovelling sidewalks together...

WrathofDawn said...

I am not qualified to question why anyone else lives where they do, as I live here - http://maps.google.ca/maps?hl=en&tab=wl. Who in their right mind lives on the east coast of an island thrust out into the North Atlantic?

Clearly, I am mad. As a hatter. Not as a wet hen.

justsomethoughts... said...

and try not to be a jackass...

i'll have to remember that when i drive up
it'll be hard, but i'll try.

Jon said...

I love Canadian Cal's comment above... it certainly backs up the reasonably-minded, standoffish description of Canucks in your post...

as a Canadian myself, I wouldn't justify that with a response

;)

I liked this post... you've got quite a way with subtle humor...

Jeanne said...

Actually, one of the reasons I left Minnesota is because I had no one to go to the movies with. Everyone was nice -- the guys at work would come over on our lunch hour and move furniture, one weekend they came over and cut down a dead tree (and then my rear neighbor offered his truck to haul away the mess). You couldn't ask for nicer people.

But when I went looking for people to just hang out with, nada. I was told that something like 78% of the people in the Twin Cities grew up there, and have had the same friends since junior high, and simply have no room in their social calendar for anyone new. Still another neighbor told me, candidly, that it's not worth making friends with newcomers, because they don't stay.

Now, if I'd known you back then, it would have been different!

Gaston Studio said...

Love your pros and cons but have never even visited Minnisota so can't really relate to that kind of constant cold in the winter. But, I read everything John Sanford writes and his descriptions of your part of the country make me want to visit, and often.

Pearl said...

You guys are killing me.

I love you all, in that way that Minnesotans love all people: in a brotherly, stand-offish sort of way.

:-)

Bob? Was that some weird peeing outside and it freezes before it hits the ground comment? Do I have to come up there? (Bob lives in Alaska.)

And Jeanne? I'd heard that before, that Minnesotans are friendly but won't become your friend. Growing up as I did, moving from one small town to another, I concur. It's true, for the most part. But it's not true with me, and it's not true for the people I hang out with, which is why I insist on living in the city. I do not believe in exclusion. I feel everyone should throw big parties, invite everyone they know, and strive to see the humanity in each other.
And drink beer. Get together, strive to see the humanity, and drink beer. :-)

Pearl said...

p.s. If I don't write back to you, it's only because of time constraints and lousy interweb connections. I do come to your sites as often as possible though, because as good as your comments are, your blogs are even better. :-)

The Retired One said...

I feel the SAME way, Pearl about being a Yooper.
The people up in the midwest and especially the NORTHERN tier of the midwest really are the friendliest, most hardworking, sincere and warm people of anywhere else in the world. I include Wisconsin and Minnesota with the U.P. in that ....
and you are correct. I think we are tough (Finnish: SISU) because of the adverse weather we experience. And no one, NO ONE understands how giddy a warm spring day is to someone who survives our winters.
I have traveled and quite a bit, and you know what? Now I know for sure why we live where we live.

Jenn Jilks said...

The weather is killing us in My Muskoka !
40" of snow!
Have you been to see The Retirement Chronicles yet?! You should.... :-)

R. Jacob said...

Midwestern people are for the most part friendly and if you stop by we will serve you food and drink. It is a rule!