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April ‘snowers’ bring… (04/20/2011)
By Frances Edstrom

This is it! This is one of the longest winters I have ever lived through, or at least can ever remember. And why is it that when it snows in April, people can’t wait to tell you how much snow is on its way. “I heard thirteen inches.” “Oh, ya? Well I heard two feet and it won’t melt for a week!” Of course I pass this news on without fact checking to my husband, and I should know better. News of that sort sends him immediately to the television and computer to check it out. And then I get hourly updates. “Three inches.” “Nope, looks like four to six.”

Why does anyone think I want to know about any of this? What I want is to have the mayor declare a snow day, so I get to stay home in bed sleeping and reading novels. But instead, here I am at work in my wool sweater and my winter boots, while my car sits out back being slowly covered in a thick layer of wet snow. All day I hear the sound of tires on slushy Second St. And tonight after deadline I will slog through the alley getting my boots wet, try to find my snow brush in the back seat, and clean off the windows. On the drive home cars and trucks will throw huge slushy sprays on my windows, making me glad I just got new windshield wipers. Next to my driveway the silly daffodils will look at me forlornly as though saying, “Cut me! Take me inside! I’d rather be dead than out here!” Then at home the dog won’t want to go out and when he comes in will track muddy snow in the hall. I’ll sit in the den, put a blanket over my legs and think, “I should have stayed home.”

Actually what I will think is, “I wonder what my life would be like if I had gone to college in Florida instead of Minnesota?”

Not of course that my parents would have allowed such a thing. There are certain people who are just northerners and there’s no two ways about it. My parents were two such people. They spent most of their retirement in Vermont in a cabin (or camp, as they call them there) on a body of water called Center Pond. In the winter, they did some traveling, usually by car. My father’s greatest fear was that he would get stuck somewhere that wasn’t up North and not have control over whether he could immediately jump in the car and go home if things went south in the South.

My mother suggested one time that they might like to buy a winter getaway, a little place in Florida, as many of their friends had done. But my father’s reaction was one of absolute incredulity. “Everyone in Florida lives in a trailer!” he said. He wasn’t all that fond of the ocean, having spent WWII mostly on an ice breaker in the Aleutians. And he didn’t trust mobile homes after seeing so many ripped apart by tornadoes. Arizona was too dry. California had too many kooks. His mental picture of the rest of the South was based mostly on movies and television coverage of Civil Rights marches, I think.

He trusted Minnesota because my mother had gone to school here, it’s clean, and of course up North. But when I married John, I think my father was truly puzzled that I would choose to live out my life anywhere but New England. Back then I laughed. Today, I’m wondering how I let love blind me to the facts of Minnesota winters.

But this can’t last forever. Soon we’ll be in the backwaters of the Father of Waters, looking for shade, slapping at mosquitoes, watching turtles jump off logs and egrets stare at us before squawking and flapping their huge wings to escape the human invasion. Maybe we’ll catch sunnies from the dock, swim off a sandbar, watch the sun set over the Lock and Dam. We’ll sleep to the sound of frogs peeping, and hear the water rush out as a barge passes on the channel. North, but our North.

A snowy day in April might be worth all that. 


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