Friday, March 18, 2005

And on the Eighth Day He Created..."Up North."

It’s another Friday evening in Minneapolis MN, and we are being bombarded with more snow, enough to close schools and allow the everyday working person to start the weekend a little early. And after loosing control and slamming my car into a curb, I decided to join the masses and head home prior to the normal end of the working day. When I arrived home I went to the local NBC affiliate news website at http://www.kare11.com/ to check the local forecast before I shoveled the sidewalk, and noticed something that sparked a little inspiration for today’s blog. After clicking on the “Sky Scan 11 Radar” option, I saw something that has become a sort of “Minnesotanism.” There are four pictures of regions in the local covering area, one being a blown up version of the Twin Cities Metro Area, another one being of St. Cloud which is about 80 miles north of Minneapolis, another being a smaller condensed version of the Twin Cities, and the final radar map labeled “Up North” which immediately caught my attention. Now “Up North” is not actually a city, although it has been capitalized on the Kare 11 website and to try and explain the error in relative grammer, “Up North” has an uncertain, yet distinct boundary to those of us who live here.

For those of you who are not from Minnesota, “Up North” is more than likely where you believe you are when you land at the airport, or cross the boarder from any extreme west, east, or southern state. To us natives “Up North” is a geographical area that encompasses the entire state of Minnesota from around St. Cloud to Canada and stretches through Northern Wisconsin. It’s something that if you ask someone “What are you doing this weekend” and the answer is “Going Up North,” the conversation is never continued with a question of exactly where, it is just assumed.

So, one may ask, “How do you exactly know when you’re Up North?” And the answer to that is a little tricky. First of all, the obvious is that the trees are taller, denser, and more piney. There are more campgrounds, lakes, and cabins and the people are considerably more laid back. Personally, I know when I’m Up North when the first cocktail is usually consumed at around 11 o’clock in the morning and continues throughout the day while sitting in an inner tube in the middle of a lake. For those of you who are not yet at your destination in your inner tube, just look for a Dairy Queen that also carries live bait and gas stations that sell fishing licenses; big clue that you’re “Up North.” Gun racks are more visible and camouflage is usually worn year round on males driving large trucks with dead animals thrown in the bed (more importantly, those men usually hold more respect for those animals than anyone they know). Blaze orange could be and more than likely is included in the school colors, and the opener of hunting season is a holiday that is celebrated by all. The “Friday Night Fish Fry” is the place to be which serves killer walleye fillets with french fries, mashed potatoes, and cold slaw, and in the summertime will most probably follow with an evening campfire and drinks with good friends. It’s a place where your cell phone more than likely will not work and you really don’t mind because it makes life that much more uncomplicated. “Up North” is one of the only places where you can get away with having riding lawn mower races after “a few too many” and not be frowned upon. You can go skinny-dipping in the middle of the night and take a bath in the lake in the morning and not worry about your neighbors. You will go to sleep with the fireflies and wake up with the loons, and every worry or concern disappears in the reflection of the lake that is in front of you. The air smells like campfire and lake water and it’s quiet enough to hear the eagle’s cry from above. You can actually see each and every star in the sky and find at least three that will fall right in front of you appearing as if they were to land in the palm of your hand. The daytime is endless and the sunsets are miraculous. All in all, Up North is a place that has pretty much lost all concern with time, deadlines, and conventional worries. It’s a place to bring your family and friends, it’s a place that just “is.”

And as I sit here and reflect upon it, “Up North” is a place that very much deserves the capitalization that has been given by Kare 11, for it has earned the love and respect of almost everyone I know and is a place that I will treasure forever.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah yes. Up Nort (pronouncing the ‘h’ is optional). As I lived in Wisconsin for about 23 years, I have to comment. When talking about Up North one thing that you cannot omit is the Packers. Yes, the Packers. The Packer logo is everywhere and they are probably the most common topic of conversation and I assume it’s the same west of the boarder for the Vikings. Now I have been Up North plenty of times and while Jenni touched on this, I just want to re-iterate before there is a flooding of urbanites to the great wilderness that is Up North. Unless you consider getting drunk on Old Milwaukee on par with an Olympic Sport, you will be bored and will eventually get in trouble with either your spouse or the law. Or if you are lucky, both. In my experience there has been nothing in the form of entertainment Up North, other than drinking, or shooting stuff with a rifle, or shooting stuff with a rifle while drinking. And if you are not doing that you are most certainly either modifying your truck or driving around in your truck that undoubtedly has really really big tires - and the older the truck or more obscure the vehicle, the better. Ah Up North, even though it does not compare, I might have to go to the mountains this weekend and listen to some Alabama.