Friday, February 26, 2010

Today It Warmed Up

With bright sun and temperatures in the high 20s today, I decided to give my car a long-overdue wash during my lunch break.

Quite a few other people had the same idea. I was third in line at the Mighty Minn Mart's drive-through wash. No problem: I'd budgeted time for a delay like this.

My turn came, I drove up and punched my code into the keypad, and drove forward.

No: I planned to drive forward. What actually happened was that after going about six inches forward, I heard the tires spin and felt my car slide to the left.

There was a sort of reverse rut where dozens, maybe hundreds, of people had driven into the wash. Mighty Minn Mart's plowed and shoveled, but compacted snow and ice are as stubborn as some of our older Norwegians.

So, my front-wheel-drive car started rolling up a narrow ridge that had been periodically washed with warm, moist air from the car wash all morning. And lost traction, sliding off the ridge.

Good news: I didn't damage the keypad's box, and my car wasn't more than dented.

Bad news: I wasn't going anywhere until I got my car and that box away from each other.

More good news: Jake Nordstrom and Stan Parks were there, and the three of us were able to shove my car over to where I could drive forward. Around here, meeting people you know at a convenience store isn't much of a coincidence. Thanks, guys!

Friday, February 19, 2010

'When Does it Warm Up Around Here?'

Central Minnesota isn't for everyone. It's the weather, I think. Dr. Glenn DeLoach, at Foggton State University, told me about a new faculty member he'd been sent to meet at the airport. It was one of those beautiful late-fall days: cloudless sky; and temperature around 60. Fahrenheit, that is. It was so warm, Dr. DeLoach left his jacket in the car.

The first words the newcomer said to Dr. Deloach were, "when does it warm up around here?!"

He lasted, I'm told, about three months.

Life in a small town isn't for everyone, either. Particularly for folks who think of Foggton, home to around 50,000 people, as a "small town." I'll grant that it's not like Los Angeles, which can be a good thing or a bad one: depending on what you're looking at.

Then there are places with a bar, two or three churches, a grain elevator and a hundred people or so. Now that's a small town!

One thing I've heard about small towns is that they're cliquish. I suppose it's true: but then we're supposed to be too interested in each other's lives, too. I grew up here, so I'm used to living in a place where I know my neighbors, and am related one way or another to a good-sized fraction of the town.

Like I said, it's not like Los Angeles.

It's not like those "small town museums" you see, either. Those generally show the way small towns were like: maybe a hundred years ago.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Comments, Spam, and Having to Wait

I'm moderating comments on this blog from here on.

Sorry about that. I like to see the comments I make show up right away, and figure that you probably do, too.

On the other hand, I've been getting too much obscene spam: which I don't like to see, and figure you may not, either. Particularly if you understand the language it's written in.

I rambled on about this more, in another blog:

Friday, February 12, 2010

Snow, Neighbors, and Jake's Snow Blower

You've heard the joke: 'It's a town so small, they don't have a town drunk, so they take turns.' Sometimes it's 'town idiot.'

We don't take turns being the town idiot, here in Loonfoot Falls. We have full-time colorful characters. But there's a little truth to the story: we do help each other out.

Along with everybody else in this part of the country, we got hit by a winter storm over the weekend. I dug through about two feet of snow Tuesday morning, just getting the garage door open. Jake Nordstrom, my neighbor up the street, had his sidewalk cleared by then and was working his way toward my place.

There's an ordinance about keeping you sidewalk clear, and some folks in the neighborhood aren't as young as Jake and I are. Besides, I think Jake likes using his snow blower.

I've read about the trouble folks in eastern cities, like Washington, are having with their snow. That's one reason I like living here in central Minnesota. With weather swinging back and forth between tropical and arctic, we expect to have trouble with snow, floods, drought, and the occasional tornado.

And have the equipment, crews, and budget to deal with what passes for “normal” in our part of the world.

Jake called me this afternoon: The plows were by again, leaving a rampart at the end of my driveway. He left his snow blower where I can get it: He'd do the job himself, except he's going ice fishing.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Why Minnesota Doesn't have a Punxsutawney Phil

Punxsutawney Phil has a good job. For a groundhog. All he has to do is come out every February 2, and either see his shadow: or not. The job must agree with him. According to the Groundhog Day website, Phil's over 120 years old.

I'm not sure I believe that.

It's a good thing Punxsutawney Phil lives in Pennsylvania. If his home was in Minnesota, he'd never have gotten that reputation as a long-range weather forecaster: The climate here isn't boring.

There's quite a lot of truth in the old saying: that if you don't like the weather in Minnesota, wait a few minutes. It'll change. Here in central Minnesota, for every month of the year there's been a time when the temperature has been above freezing, and one when it's been below freezing.

There's some regularity, of course. January's generally the coldest month, and July the hottest: with August running a close second. And you can count on no snow falling from May through September. As a rule. Most years.

Rain? That's come in every month of the year. When it rains in winter, driving gets: interesting. If it hasn't frozen on the streets by sunset, it will soon after. And at night, patches of road with the traction of a skating rink look just like the rest of the pavement.

Then there was the time my father told me about, when National Guard arctic maneuvers were canceled, due to inclement weather.

Like I said, Minnesota's climate isn't boring.
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