I should say something more about the Minnesota in our rearview mirror. Other than temperature, Minnesota is unbelievably similar to Louisiana. There’s a lot of water and wetlands. Water means a lot of biting bugs when it’s warm. Both states are fairly flat; no mountains in either, at least not where we drove through. After driving through thousands of miles of the unpopulated West, it was almost comforting to encounter Baton Rouge-grade traffic at rush hour in Minneapolis. There’s the Mississippi River which we crossed in Bemidji as a really good creek, and which we recrossed again and again several times over the state, becoming a serious river by the time it reached the southern end of MN. That mighty river begins in Minnesota and ends in Louisiana. Last but not least, each state has extreme regional accents. To put that another way, everybody but me and Kat talks funny in each state.
And there’s the rationale for the heading of this blog, Minnersoder. If you’ve ever listened to A Prairie Home Companion, or have talked with people here, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Garrison Keillor has the Minnersodan accent nailed, oh yah.
Oh, there are some differences between Louisiana and Minnersoder. Foremost among them is the helpfulness of everybody who works retail up north. They chat you up if you look puzzled, and none we spoke to were offended when we asked about capers while they were stocking frozen food. On the way to a campground in Wisconsin, two kids who worked in a grocery were cheerfully clueless about the whereabouts of a Corps of Engineers campground which the Corps’ website insisted was within three miles of their town. They were clueless, but also strangely optimistic that somehow we strangers from over a thousand miles away would find it. And we did.
We got directions from a lady walking a dog. She wasn’t sure, but in an accent that sounded like a mix of Spanish and Croation (or Serbian, not sure which) she told us to turn left at a church and look for the signs. She was right, and we arrived at our far western Wisconsin campground with an hour of daylight to spare.
Back to the similarities between Minnesota and Louisiana: those similarities are limited to summer. I have been in Minnersoder in April when snow off the roof was higher than the window tops. In a Louisiana April we’ve been sweating and swatting mosquitoes since Mardi Gras.