She was not amused… 😉
I’ve met another set of transplants. They moved here from Tennessee. More from-the-south friends! I’ve had several of those…they don’t last very long here on the tundra. 🙂 We got to talking about phraseology. (Is that a word? I may have just made that up.) I should’ve been a linguist because one of my favorite things about any new place or person is their dialect, accent, and colloquial vocabulary. A phrase that came up was, “Bless his/her heart.” In the south, if you say that about someone, it is not a blessing at all. It isn’t even anything nice. It’s an offhanded way to say, “That idiot. I can’t believe what she/he did/said, etc.”
Which brought us to an altruistic Minnesotism, “Well, that’s…interesting.” Another gem. My friends from Tennessee have already experienced this one. When a Minnesotan says, “Well, that’s…interesting,” they don’t mean it’s interesting at all. They may mean, “Holy crap, what is she wearing???” or, “Oh my gosh. Can you believe he said that?” or, “I would never in a million years act that way.” But interesting? No, not so much.
Do you know what we say out east if you are wearing something we don’t prefer? We might say, “Ummm, WHAT are you WEARING?” or if someone says something we don’t understand you might hear us ask, “What the hell are you talking about????” Or if someone has a weird idea we may exclaim, “Well, that’s bizarre!”
Rude? Sometimes. Honest? Always. Why not be honest? And although I am getting used to it, the tendency towards passive-aggressiveness here in my not-so-new-anymore state still troubles me. Niceness to a fault or, as one of Chris’s (my Hubs) not-from-here professors at the University of Minnesota once said, “a pathological need to be nice,” still strikes me as worse than a tendency towards being too blunt at times. Blunt can always be followed by an apology, but I stand a greater chance of helping you be a better you by being honest with my opinions than by never telling you anything more than, “Well, that’s…interesting.” 🙂
As I got off the bus and saw it there, my breath caught in my throat for a moment. I have been near it before, but today was MY day. Today I was getting to be a part of it. We walked towards the stadium and crossed the street, the kind-yet-stoic crossing guard waving us on, whistle in mouth, donning his fluorescent yellow vest. Stepping onto the sidewalk I looked left to see the championship banners hung proudly against the honey-colored bricks…1965, 1969, 1970…We turned to our right and walked along the sidewalk, my son being drawn in by the megastore with offerings of every kind and color for this, HIS team. And there, around the corner was this beautiful wall, so simple in its design, yet magical in its effect-a building-sized wall of metal tags that each dangle from a frame. When the wind is silent, they mean little…but then the breeze…and your eye is captivated by this beautiful effect of mist rolling across the stadium, or of an undisturbed surface of a lake being rippled.
The energy hit us at once as we turned that corner-the excitement, the feeling of all being there for one reason, all robed in varying shades of red and white and blue, with the same TC logo, to support this team. We found our gate and entered, immediately heading for the souvenir stand to buy the coveted foam finger. I stood there staring at the wall of mist, entranced by its effect and then allowed my eye to wander left towards this tall light tower, with TC traveling up and down in various patterns and effects. I breathed in deeply and thought, I have never been high, but I am sure this is close to what it must feel like.
Foam finger purchased, we climbed the stairs to our level and found the section where our seats were located. The height dizzying at first, but easily adjusted to. The beautiful Kentucky bluegrass was mowed perfectly into a checker pattern with alternating shades of dark and light green, the diamond neatly raked and sprayed, it was nearly game time. As we waited we were approached by several workers in their bright yellow shirts offering various baseball game favorites, using that voice, you know the one-that circa 1915 New York City newspaper boy voice. “Kettle cawn-getch ya kettle cawn he-ah!”
Three years ago I went to my first Twins game. I came home and wrote these thoughts and never published them in my blog. It was so long ago now that I don’t remember why. I suppose life got in the way, as is so often the case. I do remember this day with significance. It was the beginning of my transformation, my acceptance of living here on the tundra, NOT resignation, but acceptance and determination to be happy here in Minnesota, despite the difficulties.
Baseball. I grew up in a household of mild sport fan-dom. I think my parents were Mets fans. We never really talked about it, but I remember Mets paraphernalia around my home. I always enjoyed watching baseball, but my real love started as a young adult when I discovered those magical Yankees 🙂 I became close friends with another woman who had been a lifelong fan and she taught me all I needed to know about the Yanks. I watched every game I could, got to know all the players, their stories, their mannerisms.
Whatever. I hear your shouts and eyerolls. No matter. They were my team. I’ve gotten over justifying to people why I loved them. I loved them for all the reasons anyone else loves a local team. But more than anything, I loved the sport. The sounds of the game, the announcers, the sheer simplicity of the rules. Then I moved here and with all the nonsense of having to buy a special cable channel to watch my Yankees, well, I lost touch with my beloved baseball.
I lived four years without baseball. I was swallowed up here on the tundra, by a lack of friends, a hate for the weather, a non-understanding of the culture, and a resentment that the Twins were now my local team. I lost sight of many of the things that made me who I am, including my baseball love. Until finally, in that life-giving Spring of 2011 (which I have referenced before) when I decided to stop being miserable, where I found beautiful friendships, started to explore this great city, and emerged from my life doldrums, I decided to give the Twins a chance so I could enjoy baseball again. I did it for my love of the game.
I respected the Twins. They had history and tradition behind them. They weren’t a new, commercially-made team with a lame-ass uniform (think late-nineties Arizona Diamondbacks). They had good stories, some locally-made heroes, some successes. I felt that I could support them without completely turning my back on my Yanks.
The Yanks will always be my first love. They got my passion, my fire, as any first love. But the Twins, well, I’m growing older with them, sharing them with my kids. They let me teach my kids all there is to love about baseball, and since they don’t win as frequently as OTHER teams 😉 the kids will know that love for the game isn’t always about winning. It’s about the crack of the bat and the second of collectively-held breath waiting to see if it goes out of the park. It’s about catching a pop-up and getting on the jumbotron (which happened to us at our first Twins game back in my magical spring). It’s about cheering en masse for your team and hoping for some ninth-inning miracle. It’s about the chance to be free of the day’s worries and feel pure joy for a few hours every now and again because you are reminded that you are part of something bigger than yourself.
It was unusually warm today in the Twin Cities. I think it hit almost 40 degrees. That is REALLY warm for January. There have been winters here where the temperature didn’t hit 40 til April and the kids and I would celebrate by throwing off our coats, dragging out the lawn chairs and bicycles, and hanging on the driveway all afternoon. A week ago I was posting pictures on facebook about the frost that formed on my scarf in the minus 25 degree wind chills. This week I made that same walk, from my car to my office (about eight city blocks) without any jacket and only wearing a button down shirt. These are crazy times.
Today after work on my way back to the car it was a little cooler so I did put my jacket back on. Half way through the walk I noticed something. I was quite relaxed and strolling. I never stroll these days. I thought about it. Winter makes me hurry. I hurry from the house to the car, from the car to the office, from the office to the car, all the while frantically muttering, “I’m so cold. I’m soooo COLD!”. It is as though I am always running from the weather; from the biting wind that first brings a sting to your ears that is nearly unbearable and then numbness to your extremities that takes many minutes, once inside, from which to recover. Yes, I run from winter.
This winter I made a list of all the things I wanted to do or to try, a bucket list of sorts. Unfortunately, the milder conditions and lack of snow have thwarted my efforts a bit (so strange to write that), but I know it will get cold again and the brutal wind from the North will come to find us. So, I am adding to my bucket list to stop running and to stroll more. This may require better clothing choices, as my one friend would inform me. But I hope to do so, so I won’t have to feel like I am rushing all the time. I left a life of hurry behind when I moved to the Midwest. I’d like to not live that way again just because of the weather. No, I plan to look Old Man Winter right in the eyes and tell him, “I WON’T RUN ANYMORE!!” Then, I’ll take his hand, and stroll with him (or at least walk a little more slowly), and see what there is to see.
Well, it’s March. I can’t explain to you how much March in Minnesota sucks, for lack of a better word. While 3/4 of the country is beginning to emerge from winter and enter spring, we are merely transitioning from Minnesota Winter to Normal Winter, which is winter the way the rest of the country experiences it. You know, temps in the 30’s, lots of snow, gray skies, instead of arctic blasts, arctic sunshine, super dry air and temperatures so low they could kill you. And while all the big home improvement stores are starting to advertise for lawnmowers and fertilizer, we are left bemoaning the fact that our ground is still frozen and the grass is still covered by FEET of snow. March is a tough month for many Minnesotans, not just this transplant. Almost everyone, except the winter diehards, is feeling it. So, today some friends and I went for flower therapy, as my friend called it.
We traveled to Bachman’s on Lyndale Avenue in Minneapolis. Bachman’s is a big flower store chain. The one on Lyndale is especially nice because it has within its walls Patrick’s Bakery and Cafe. The cafe is made to look like it is outside. The ceiling is like that of a greenhouse. There are fountains and big yellow market umbrellas over little wrought iron cafe tables. Birds chirp and hop around while you sit. It is an all around fabulous experience, especially in the dark of winter.
Patrick’s has delicious quiche and sandwiches, but also the most amazing pastries. I chose the St. Tropez quiche, made with chicken, tomato and feta cheese. It was served with mixed greens and a vinaigrette dressing.
Of course the best part was dessert. We tried three. My choice was passion cake. Yes, of course I love the name. Who can’t use a little extra passion in their life? 😉 (It’s actually made with passion fruit mousse…).
We also tried a chocolate almond cookie cake. It tasted like a super moist chocolate chip cookie with rich and delicious chocolate.
And we sampled trillogy cake (that’s how they spell it), which was an outrageous combination of three different types of mousse and proved to be a light and wonderful delicacy. It was my favorite. All were paired with coffee, which was a much better brew than I expected it to be.
After consuming the goodies we walked around the greenhouse area, absorbing the smells of all the early spring and indoor plants and then checked out the gift area, trying the whole time not to look out the windows and see the mountains of white outside. I left feeling refreshed, even if just for a brief interlude. It was great to escape the doldrums for an afternoon.
I am definitely suffering from a loss of my “Get through the winter” momentum. My first mistake was going away in December to a warmer place. Vacations don’t refresh me, they set me up for failure. Although I enjoy them while I am there, I come back feeling worse about having to come back to winter than I would have felt if I had never left. A few weeks after that trip I finally got back in the winter groove, only to find myself enjoying 40 and 50 degree days for a week and completely getting me out of the winter mindset. Add that to our late February trip up north to a tropical themed water park and here I am, feeling that loss of momentum.
This is when winter really starts to hit me hard. Now is when my friends in Jersey begin to emerge from the doldrums. They are prepping their gardens, getting compost, walking on the boardwalks, pulling out the bikes and the deck furniture, enjoying 60 degree days every now and again. Their crocuses and spring bulbs are emerging from the soil and the winter pansies will be making their appearance at garden centers any day now. And here I am, in Minneapolis, my gardens buried in a 2 foot snow pack, bulbs tucked away in the frozen ground, slush and ice still coating the streets and no green to be seen anywhere. And, as if adding insult to injury, it seems as though as soon as we get any kind of clearing or melt, it snows again, only to start the process over.
I think if winter ended right now, I would be ok. It would have been difficult and snowy, but I would be able to emerge still standing. It is these next few weeks, when snow becomes a distant memory for my more-southern-residing counterparts, that I really get beaten down. And by the end I feel like I am just barely crawling along, holding up a flag of surrender, looking for rescue from the seemingly interminable winter.
I felt it start to creep in today. I looked out my window at the University of Minnesota and saw nothing but gray. I took a deep breath and knew, I’m entering that end of winter tunnel. If I can just fight for joy these last few weeks, I know that on the other side I will find myself again, and I will have made it through this, my fourth winter…