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Exotic Minnesota

free snowAmericans like to hear about how different other places are, right? We like to read about the exotic shepherds in Somalia and the exotic belly dancers in Egypt and the exotic monks in Tibet. It is easy to put far-flung places into an ‘others’ box, to think that your normal is absolute normal, with nothing exotic about it.

It isn’t.

You aren’t normal.

You might be normal within your circle, in your community, among your family and friends. But venture too far outside that circle and you will quickly discover how not-normal you really are.

This is good and right, though it can sometimes be intimidating and scary until you learn how to navigate this outside world with curiosity, grace, and gentle humor. Open wide your eyes and don’t take yourself too seriously.

Ever thought about how exotic suburbanites are in Minnesota?

I spent December in Minnesota and couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something quite odd about the place. I couldn’t put my finger on it until I realized that I kept wanting to look at the snow and the gray sky and the frozen lakes and the Minnesota-nice people through non-Minnesotan eyes. Through Djiboutian eyes. Through eyes that saw all these piles of white stuff as exotic.

Admitedly, this list could be much much longer. I focused primarily on winter aspects of Minnesota, just to be concise. And the photos aren’t all from Minnesota. I could have included the giant tall tale of Paul Bunyan, the craziness of 10,000 (or is it 20,000?) lakes, sports …

  • Exotic Minnesota 1 of 13
    minnesota

    Photo source: Wikipedia

  • Traditional Clothing 2 of 13
    snow clothes1

    People cover all bare skin in multiple layers of puffy clothes. They move stiffly because of heavy boots and trousers they call ‘snow-pants.'

  • Knife Shoes 3 of 13
    ice skates

    People put knives on the bottom of their shoes and slide on the frozen ground. They call this 'fun.'

    Photo source: wikimedia

  • Frozen Ground 4 of 13
    frozen lake

    Everything is frozen, even the lakes and rivers turn to solid ice. Cars can drive on top of the lakes. This is borderline miraculous.

    Photo source: wikipedia

  • Ice Houses 5 of 13
    ice house

    People build small wooden houses on the ice. The bring heaters, radios, even battery-operated televisions. Then they sit in these small houses, huddled around a hole cut in the ice and try to catch fish.

    Photo source: flickr

  • Polar Bear Swim 6 of 13
    polar bear swim

    Sometimes they get so tired of waiting for those fish that they strip off all their clothes, jump in the water while screaming, then jump right back out and huddle over the small heaters. The people watching laugh and clap and slap each other on the back.

    Photo source: wikipedia

  • Snow Shark 7 of 13
    snow shark

    They build things with the snow. Snow men, snow angels, snow forts. Even this snow shark, found a few blocks from my parents' home.

  • Darkness 8 of 13
    darkness

    The sky is cloudy almost all the time. The sun rises late and sets early, there are only about nine full hours of daylight. After 4:30 in the afternoon, people turn on their inside lights and whole neighborhoods light up, the windows glowing like miniature suns through the snow. Those windows make it seem warm, even if your nose hairs are freezing from the cold.

    Photo source: flickr

  • Mall of America 9 of 13
    mall of america

    When it is too cold to do anything outside, people go to MOA, the Mall of America. The mall is so big that if you walk around the entire thing, all the floors, you will almost equal the distance (the long way) around Djibouti Town.

    Photo source: flickr

  • Mayoral Sense of Humor 10 of 13
    road construction

    The mayor of New Brighton sent his people an email: Due to construction this winter, we recommend that you just stay home.

    Photo source: flickr

  • Minnesota Nice 11 of 13
    howtotalkminnesotan

    The people here are really nice and don't complain about much except the weather, but they use funny words like uffda and nippy and eh and borrow me.

    Photo source: amazon

  • Special Equipment 12 of 13
    snow blower

    You need special tools just to survive in Minnesota. Shovels, snow blowers, window scrapers, lawn mowers, mosquito swatters, fishing poles, loads of road salt, purple hats with Viking horns, hot dish and Jell-O salad recipes, big fat cozy quilts.

    Photo source: wikipedia

  • Minnesota 13 of 13
    minnesota exotic1

    I don't know what most Minnesotans would think of Djibouti, but this is one exotic state.

*image via flickr

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