Liars of us all - the consequence of winter
Living in Minnesota is like living with amnesia.
Don't blame us. We cannot allow ourselves to imagine life without suffering.
And so we take the bad and call it good. We keep the mediocre and pretend it is stellar.
The advent of global warming has changed the climate of Minnesota radically. Even so, most Minnesotans pretend we still live in the land of four distinct, beautiful and enjoyable seasons, and that we love each one.
Every season, we say, has its own peculiar beauty. Summer, of course, shimmers with warmth, sunshine, leisure and relaxation. We choose to not remember the scorching heat, the ridiculous humidity of August.
The spring and fall remind us all of the transitions that we all face - and we bear them with pride and a certain amount of grace. We ignore the fact that because of the harsh summers and awful winters our trees do not have time to turn the colors we expect. We forget that our spring time is often too hot and too short for tulips and the birds who return here each year, seeking fresh water and emerging earth worms.
But sliding into winter is the worst. It is a bit like riding a reluctant pony. The anticipation of winter is wonderful, but the actual experience makes us all uncomfortable.
Is winter beautiful? Is it fun? Like riding a lethargic pony, how can a person tell?
Do I love winter or hate it? I don't know. I honestly do not know.
Until the first snow fall, the first real snow fall, the landscape is gray with a muted and indifferent death.
Then, one day, when I've forgotten to consider it, I awaken to the first blizzard.
The driveway is gone. The rooftops disappear against a sky, tamed by large flakes.
I remember where I put my boots when only yesterday I wouldn't be able to find them on a dare.
Sleigh bells, tinsel on a tree, hot chocolate and home-made baked goods. . .all of these things become the focus of November and the early days of the end of autumn.
Until the big one.
The truth will make you sick.
Those of us who can afford to do so, get out of town at the first sign of below-freezing temperatures.
Many take their week-long vacation in late January, early February - with hopes that the break will get them through the rest of the worst time of the year.
Several years ago, when Jesse Ventura was governor and we all received refund checks from our overpayment of state taxes, I suggested the following.
Instead of sending money, send us each, every Minnesota woman, man and child, a voucher for a week-long escape to Cancun.
Or Santa Barbara. Or Fiji.
Think of the repercussions; fewer suicides, less domestic abuse. More loving relationships, happier children. We would all be healthier, hardier, and return to Minnesota with a new commitment to making our lives better.
As it is - only those Minnesotans with disposable income (read, "real money") can afford to go anywhere in the winter - other than walking one of the shopping malls.
The snow is not our only captor.
Minnesotans are trapped by our stubborn lack of imagination.
If we can't ski, hike, snow shoe, or escape to Bequi, what good can we find in winter?
Damned if I know.
But then, the blizzard has not yet hit.
I'm a little snarly until it does.
Check back after the first school-closing day; when all the edges of our world are rounded with the soft, white blanket of cloud-colored wetness.
Like every other year, I'll probably sing another tune.
At least, I think I will.
But then again - I cannot remember.