Springtime in Apple Valley is the best. Although recently my wife and I have been able to escape the cold and ice of past winters, we haven’t forgotten our early morning commutes after wrapping our kids in layers and shoving them out the door for school. Happy memories; yes and no.
But springtime holds a special place in my heart. It means running and biking outside without multiple layers, head wrap and gloves. It means yard work in the sun and working up a sweat. It means long walks in the woods at Lebanon Hills Regional Park and escapes along the river. It’s early morning coffee on the porch and listening to the birds having breakfast all around me. It’s savoring in all the benefits, charm, and pleasantries of living in such a nice community of friends and neighbors.
However, my Back Pages tell another story. Fantasy images from my youth now come true; at least in my imagination.
Southern California has become my great playground where I can ignore creeping age and continue doing fun things snow-bound seniors can’t do back home. I like the crazy, creative, eccentric, unapologetic far-out types who inhabit a lot of my regular haunts there.
Sharon has found a cadre of fellow artists willing to try new painting techniques and share both their success and failures with her. It is her ‘new thing’ and it suits her to a T in the desert.
For both of us, it’s warm winter nights that nurture creative thoughts and ideas bursting on paper. It’s ocean and mountains and out of the way places that Minnesota can’t offer. It’s a playground for those of us still in total denial of life’s fading curtain.
Yet for all that California has to offer, it still isn’t Minnesota. A lot of folks have a special place in their hearts for where they were born. My affiliation runs deeper than that.
It was born of an early morning below-zero paper route, a high school steeped in military tradition and a lake that mimicked the ocean if only in my imagination. It was hard times and healthy living. It was growing up in a world shaped by basic values and an appreciation for hard work. It was dreamed-about opportunities limited only by the extent of one’s imagination.
Minnesota is where I found stability and a healthy foundation upon which to lay down my roots. It was where we raised our children and now watch some of our grandchildren grow. It has become a hundred million other impressions that nudged and pricked and scratched and broke through my memory bank.
For as much as I love California’s fast pace and changing emotional scenery, it is still Minnesota that brings me back to reality. Both places offer Sharon and I wonderful friendships, a boatload of memories and creative ventures. But Minnesota also offers us something else. History that is all good.
I was born of the tundra. And though I avoid the snow and cold as much as I can, it is still in my blood. I don’t know where I’ll write my final draft whether it be in the surf or in the snow. But it doesn’t matter. There really is no contest.
Minnesota is a good place to be from and a good place to be.