Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, July 30, 2001

Home, sweet home


I can't believe that it's happening already, but we are getting close to the end of the summer of 2001. What happened to the time?

I hadn't really thought much about it until I saw some back-to-school ads in the Sunday edition of the Star Tribune newspaper.

It always seems to make me nostalgic. The back-to-school ads are the turning point, forcing me into realizing that we will soon be wearing coats and mittens, scraping car windows, and becoming increasingly cold in general.

I try to look at the positive aspects of living in Minnesota. I am originally from Cokato, and for me, the most important aspect of being a Minnesotan is that this area west of the Twin Cities is where my family and friends are. That, of course, includes the Lester Prairie/Winsted area where I reside with my family now.

I lived in Orlando, Fla., for a short time after I graduated from high school, and being away from just about everyone I had ever known just about killed me. I didn't even make it a year, even though I loved the weather in Florida.

In Minnesota, one can't forget how beautiful the fluffy snow is when it is gracefully falling, or the frost on the trees, which always seems to happen on Christmas morning.

And who can forget the smells of wood-burning stoves in the beginning of fall, or recently passed snowmobiles in the middle of winter? Those smells make this area feel like home to me. There certainly was none of that in Florida.

In fact, what I found most funny about the south eastern corner of the US, was that Floridians are absolutely freezing when the temperature drops below 40 degrees, which, mind you, rarely happens.

There they are, sporting the one sweatshirt that they own under their heavy jacket, and, believe it or not, they are actually wearing socks with their sandals

For Florida natives, 40 degrees means that it's time to lock themselves in their house and watch MTV spring break re-runs under blankets on the couch.

At 40 degrees, only being in Florida for a few months with my still-thick Minnesota blood, I was still wandering around wearing shorts and a spring jacket.

And all I could say to the people that I came across was, "Wimps, wimps, wimps. . ."

After spending a short time away from Minnesota, I was finally able to realize (in the infinite wisdom that only an 18-year old can possess) that my home is a good place, filled with good people, and high values, and even if it is a bit cold, it is where I want to be.

I often wondered while living in Orlando, that if an accident would happen, how many passersby would stop to help? Here in Minnesota, the answer is simple - everyone within a two-block radius, and several others once the word spread.

What a wonderful feeling, knowing that there are so many kind and helpful people living among us in our smaller communities.

I also like the idea of being able to leave our grill and swimming pool outside without worrying if it will be there in the morning, and love having built-in babysitters close by, so that my husband and I can have a night to ourselves (thank you, parents!).

And how could you forget how warm and comfortable the sun feels in April, when we haven't seen it for a while? Or how bright the stars shine at night when you are looking over the "back forty" at night? These are the things that keep me here, and that make me happy to raise my children here.

I wish I could go back in time, to see what I see now. When I was 18, moving to Florida was an adventure. I had no idea what a shock I was in for, when I couldn't just stop by to see my parents, or go shopping with my girlfriends.

I would have had to incur a pretty big expense to spend the afternoon chit-chatting with my mom in her living room.

Little did I know how difficult it would be to be away, how much I would miss everyone, and that I would actually prefer to live in the cold, tundra of Minnesota over the fast pace of exciting Orlando, Florida.

So, looking at the Sunday ads, I have to think to myself, our seasons are about to change and I'm genuinely comfortable with this.

Of course, my son going back to school seems to help some, too.

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