It’s the Minnesota spring that gets you, not winter

This is my Sunday column for the March 3, 2013 edition of the Hibbing Daily Tribune.

It’s the Minnesota spring that gets you, not winter
By Aaron J. Brown

It’s March. I think all the snowbirds are gone by now. So let’s speak freely, shall we?

I don’t mind that people head south for the winter. Of course, I actually do, but I’m willing to forgive. People have the money to have two homes and spend part of their retirement someplace warm? Fine. Not my preference, but not my business.

Nevertheless, I went up the wall when I saw a local TV news affiliate in Duluth do an actual feature series on people who spend these later winter months in Arizona. The reporter used Skype to talk to pleasant-looking retired couples on the computer. On one hand, people were interacting via video phone calls just like in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” On the other, they were mostly talking about the weather and awkwardly describing their unremarkable lives. This is why science fiction is so popular. Science nonfiction usually turns out this way.

Guess what the big story was? It’s warm in Arizona. But it’s nice up here in the summer and kind of hot in Arizona then, so what you really ought to do is live two places. “Arizona” is also spelled differently than “Minnesota” and has its own distinct state government. Fun fact: “Arizona” backwards is “Anozira.”

But why stop there? If you can afford three places, add a coastal retreat in North Carolina or perhaps Oregon for the in-between times. Four places, you’ll really want a city bungalow of some sort, for the theater season. Five places, if you can swing it, then you want an island, ideally one situated outside the purvey of government, a sort of tax shelter and refuge for when you need to run ships through the blockade and build your MechaFortress in the shape of your own face.

Perhaps I digress. I don’t mind the existence of snowbirds. I mind watching stories about them on the local news that they themselves cannot watch because they are not here. Are you trying to sell us on the idea of moving away? Has it come to this?

I reject such a notion. Global warming is real. I am patient. Arizona will move to me long before I ever live there.

March is the grumpy season. Little things set us off. Like the TV. Is it like this everywhere? I don’t know. It’s like this here. The snow looks like the oily, sparkly discharge from the back end of a broken-down glitter machine. It’s warm enough to make things wet, but not warm enough to melt away the snow. How is this possible? The water came from somewhere? It came from hell. That is the answer. You can’t drink it, swim in it or use it for cooking. It’s hell water from the month of March.

It’s time to brighten things up. “Spring Break” is almost here, even if “spring” is two months away. March is Minnesota’s reminder that we have made choices in life that do not reflect the normal behavior of human populations, huddling around temperate coastal regions. We are different. This is a blessing. This is a curse.

We could spend our winters in Arizona, I suppose. We know lots of people who do. Nice people. It could happen to anyway, I suppose. March in Minnesota breaks people, like a stallion scampering in the shadow of a glue factory.

We are alive and we have not succumbed yet. Not yet. Not ever, so far as we can help it.

Aaron J. Brown is an author and community college instructor from the Iron Range. He writes the blog and hosts 91.7 KAXE’s Great Northern Radio Show on public stations. The next program airs live from the Bagley High School auditorium on Saturday, March 9. Find out how to listen or get free tickets at

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