In Howard Mohr’s book, “How to Talk Minnesotan,” one of the expressions he uses to demonstrate how we Minnesotans speak is “Could be worse.”
He says that no matter how bad things are, Minnesotans will always say, “Could be worse.”
I heard that expression several times last week, when the Faribault County area got hit with ice, then snow, then wind.
It could be worse, several folks remarked, and pointed out the poor slobs living up north (or ‘Up Nort’ as Howard Mohr explains to be the proper Minnesota pronunciation.) by Alexandria and Fergus Falls.
“They really have it bad up there,” southern Minnesotans remarked.
Makes me wonder what the folks in Fergus Falls referred to when they said “Could be worse!”
Tuesday’s freezing rain made travel treacherous in the area. A rapid temperature drop over the noon hour caused wet conditions to become pure ice covers. Schools let out early, events were cancelled or postponed, and folks mostly tried to hunker down at home.
One couple from St. Paul had to hunker down in Blue Earth, but say they had a good time.
Dan and Sarah are a retired couple who live near Summit Avenue in St. Paul. They were on their way to Sioux City, Iowa, when they pulled into Blue Earth late Tuesday afternoon.
Some folks at the gas station here convinced them that to travel on was foolish, as conditions were only going to get worse. So they got one of the last rooms at the AmericInn in Blue Earth.
They decided to explore the town a bit, and went downtown to visit some of the stores. At one store they got to visiting and found out that while many events were cancelled, one was not.
The one event still scheduled was the Fairstand Dinner at Trinity Lutheran Church. They were assured it would be great food.
So the St. Paul couple went, ate, and had a wonderful visit with all the folks who had braved the wintery weather. That was a lot, because the supper fundraiser was a big success, nearly selling out of roast beef.
Dan and Sarah were both impressed with the meal – especially the homemade pies for dessert. Dan had to sample two kinds.
It turned out they also have a connection to Blue Earth they didn’t realize before. One of their close neighbors is St. Luke’s Lutheran Care Center Administrator Gene Nelson, who owns a home in St. Paul as well as Blue Earth.
Dan and Sarah’s back yard neighbor was Garrison Keillor, until he moved away about eight months ago.
Keillor, as some may recall, was having a feud with his neighbor over an addition that was going to block the view. That neighbor was not Dan and Sarah.
“I think he got tired of the feud and moved a little ways away,” Dan says.
One of their other neighbors had been Paul and Sheila Wellstone. That house has recently been sold, they said.
Dan says he bought the house he is in because he is a fan of architecture, and his house is a large old mansion-style home.
“It still had the servants quarters upstairs,” he said. “And a lot of room, more than we probably need.”
He says the basement, which has two boilers in it, is a maze of hallways and doors and rooms.
“Once a couple of plumbers were down there and they had to holler up to us because they couldn’t find the door to the stairs,” he laughs.
As an architecture fan, Dan planned on extending his stay in Blue Earth long enough to take a tour of the Faribault County courthouse, and perhaps the Wakefield House as well.
After that they will have to decide whether it is worth traveling over icy roads to Sioux City or just turn around and head home.
Whatever they do, they both say they had an enjoyable – albeit unexpected – stay in Blue Earth last week.
“It couldn’t have been better,” Dan said. Which means, of course, that it could have been worse.
(To read more observations from the past week, check the editor’s blog at www.faribaultcountyregister.com)