Loons. Most lakes in Minnesota have at least one resident loon pair and they’re not shy or quiet. Not only that, but every TV ad for the Minnesota state lottery ends with the loon call. It would be our state sound, if there was one. People living south of Minnesota do not know what loons are, think they have a ridiculous name, and are only unwittingly familiar with them because loon calls always crop up right after the great-horned-owl call on “spooky woods night sounds” background audio in every single horror movie.
The north country. Minnesota is a stunning place, and there aren’t many other places that look like it. The distinctive pines and paper birches the whole place is littered with prefer frigid northern climates. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I was on a road trip through upstate New York and the sight of birches had me bouncing from window to window like a dog that’s just realized the car ride’s almost over. Something about the north country feels more wild and savage and pure than the outdoors of other places—like any second a wolf will come loping out of the pines, howl mournfully, penetrate your soul with its piercing blue eyes, and then disappear into the forest again. Being in the outdoors in other places, I’m just like, “This is buggy.”
The cold. No, this one isn’t a joke. I mean, the cold is terrible — but I missed the yearly test of my mettle. It gave me a sense of pride, surviving a Minnesota winter. Without it, I worried that there was some part deep in my soul withering; that without surviving in the completely insane and unlivable conditions of a Minneapolis winter, every year I was becoming less and less fit to survive a zombie apocalypse.
Being able to sit down in a bar. In Minneapolis, you can decide you’d like to go to a popular bar, then you can walk into said bar, get a drink, and sit at a table. For the most part, you can just do that. You can sit down at a bar, and get a drink in under a half an hour, without having gotten there basically at bar open. It’s incredible.
Space. When I lived in Brooklyn, my fiancé and I took up camping. Then he took up brewing beer. Then we couldn’t take up anything else because there wasn’t any more room in the apartment. I wanted to keep the bike in the apartment, but we would have had to get rid of the futon or the TV.
Political moderation. The drawback of living in a swing state like Minnesota is the deluge of ads come election time, but the advantage is that you get to live in a nice, moderate place. In some places, if you let it slip that you grew up with guns in your house and your father still owns a couple, people will have a heart attack. In other places, if you say your boyfriend doesn’t go to church, people will stifle a gasp. There are a lot of people in Minnesota who will do neither, and will instead politely hear you — like a considerate, tolerant fellow human. It’s pretty nice, actually.