Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Not in the Brochure

We've been in St Paul for nearly a year now. It's been a busy year: arriving in new city, God trying to ice murder me, Margaret born, promoted to host the show, buying a house, show getting canceled, God resuming ice murder efforts.

What's really struck me (besides ice shards) has been the delightful surprises of living here. Things that I didn't expect but have come to love:

1. Kemp's milk. I don't know why but it is better than any other milk I've ever had. And I didn't even know some milk could taste better than other milk. I would drink gallons of this stuff at a sitting if I could get away with it and I just might try one of these days.

2. The bunnies. I've talked about this before but there are bunnies all over. They destroy your garden (solution: don't garden) and are delightful. My love has lessened somewhat with all the tiny bunny poops in my yard.

3. Less wealth. Seattle is a rich town. You go to a coffee shop there and even the people loafing around have top of the line computers. Houses are (were?) expensive but people buy them anyway. Here, there is simply less money and it is an incredible relief. I have become less acquisitive. In Seattle, I used to think about what kind of new car I wanted, here I barely even drive a car and I just don't worry about the whole wealth/status thing. It's nice.

4. Warm hats. Never needed them before but they're a delight! Now I know why all the sullen hipsters wearing them incongruously in warm climates love them so much. Doesn't thwart God but slows His progress.

Look, I'm not down on Seattle. I still love it and miss it in many ways but I think it is of value to look at what is secretly great about where you live.

What's secretly great about where YOU live?


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14 comments:

Ed Kohler said...

Kemps is great, but you need to give Cedar Summit Farm's milk a try just in case. It comes in glass returnables at Whole Foods and local coops. It's almost as expensive at saffron, but mighty good.

emily said...

yeah, i miss real milk. is it just terroir or is there something midwestern dairymen know that coastal dairymen don't?

Zolmes said...

I love these posts about Minnesota--as someone who moved to St. Paul for college I remember what a strange/awesome/interesting place it is.

I would to add this the great abundance of reasonably priced restaurants that are delicious. Or maybe being in NYC has made me nostalgic for Hard Times.

momo said...

My mother, who lives in California, used Land O Lakes butter back in the days when it was harder to get locally made butter because she said it tasted better. I've been buying Cedar Summit in the glass returnables at the new farm store in the Midtown Global Market, and I don't find it expensive at all because it is so GOOD!

Kate said...

The local organic milk here is good and worth the price, but not the same as some I had when I lived in MI. There really is a difference.

Secretly great things about Houston:
* warm and humid climate means no moisturizer needed
* great music, theatre, dance, etc. that's affordable
* cheap and delicious fish, fruit, etc.
* parks great for running
* tons of immigrants, tons of cultures, more restaurants than you could visit in a year

heather said...

Everyone knows Tacoma > Seattle anyway... or at least everyone that lives in Tacoma thinks so. ;P

Bill said...

Central PA (Lebanon/Palmyra/Hershey Area):

When the winds are right, it smells like chocolate.


I'm sure I could think of more, but for every up, there seems to be a down; usually stronger than the up.

For example, when the winds ARE NOT favorable, you can smell our Dairy Air.

DK said...

I agree with Ed about the Cedar Summit Farms milk, it's really good milk.

Andy Joe said...

Smith Brother's Milk. No crack in it.

Glenn Fleishman said...

I am less acquisitive these days, partly because there's less to acquire with, and less to acquire.

Amanda from Michigan said...

What a nice way to think about your new town. I am going to starting thinking about what makes my Midwestern hamlet so special...first, I would say Lake Michigan. It sucks in the winter when we have lake-effect snow...but the rest of the year, it's amazing.

thoughts of amy said...

Ah, Minnesota...you make me almost miss it, John.

My mom still sends me Gedney brand pickles for Christmas because I can't get them out here. If I were to get a care package of everything I can't get here it would be the following:
Gedney Dill pickles
Lefse
Maltex hot cereal
Smoked white fish from Morey's fish house in Motley.
(The idea of smoked fish being a delicacy is a joke when you grow up with it being smoked in your back yard with freshly-caught fish.)

Things that are secretly great about where I live now (Staunton, VA):
1. There is nothing like twilight on a summer evening listening to local bluegrass and drinking local wine or beer. How I ever lived this long without that experience is beyond me.
2. The coffee shops. Not Seattle, I'm sure, but there are 5 coffee shops downtown. And it's not a large downtown.
3. The small-town feel; a blend of country with enough hipness to have a strong farmer's market and people who care about such things.
4. The Blackfriar's Playhouse. Home of the American Shakespeare Center and is the only true reproduction of Shakespeare's original Blackfriar's (that I know of). The companies that perform are great and are members of the community. We're also in the process of building a Globe replica...
5. Warm winters and ridiculous snow days. The other morning we had a two hour delay for "road conditions." It was raining.
6. Mountains. You can't really have gorgeous vistas without 'em. No mountains in Minnesota.
7. This is a cop-out, but... beauty. There are so many types of beauty here. The sunrises are different every day, the Blue Ridge Mountains tuck away ramshackle bits of history everywhere, and when the leaves fall, you can see the old houses and rock fences from a hundred years ago. The little brooks and streams that run through the mountains underneath cool canopies of lush vegetation in the summer is blissful. The waterfalls aren't too bad, either.

Still, one thing that VA will never have over MN: lakes. Oh, how I miss lakes in the summer! I hate the man-made jobs that EVERYONE and their brother flock to in the summer. I refuse. Not to mention, often you have to PAY to go swimming because it's in a national park or something. No Thank you!

Jerry said...

I live at the base of Mt. Adams in Washington and we have all dirt and potholed roads. At the end of one of those roads there is a sign, hand done, rough, and painted boldly that reads, "Slow down, speed checked by radar."

Kidron said...

I live in Seattle. It makes me miss Tacoma...