Astonished Floridian Here On Vacation!

Give me a haircut and stick me in a room with tables & chairs and I appear almost civilized ☺

oopsjohn with old video camera

Florida beckons. I look forward to visiting family & friends, and basking in the sun for a while. School, too, is cranking up again, and probably I should at least wave to the campus on my way to the beach.

I shudder to look at the calendar and see winter on the horizon. I may hibernate somewhere. At the very least, in my travels I should hug the Southern corridor.

Or should I brave the cold, travel North & take some idyllic snow pictures?

On second thought, not such a good idea. 30 years ago I made the mistake of visiting Minnesota in January, and the result – see below – was such a travesty that I was actually written up as a news item in the Minneapolis Star!

ASTONISHED FLORIDIAN HERE ON VACATION!

Jim Klobuchar

The Minneapolis Star

Tuesday, January 26, 1982

Slip into a seat next to John Hayes on the airliner bound from Tampa, Fla., to Minnesota. John Hayes is a 38 year old librarian from St. Petersburg, an amateur runner and fundamentally nice guy who may be in love.

John Hayes’ romantic condition is such that he has been persuaded by a lovely lady from New Hope, Minn., and by a piece in The Minneapolis Star, to spend a week’s vacation in Minnesota the fourth week of January.

Kathy from Minnesota

The airplane is about to land at the Twin Cities International Airport. The time is approximately 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22, and John Haves has never before experienced Minnesota, in spring, summer, fall or the other 10 months.

“Is all of that stuff down there snow?” he asks the man in front of him.

“It is,” the man confirms.

“Good God!” John Hayes remarks.

He recalls vividly boarding the plane a few hours earlier, hauling two large bags into the terminal and sweating hugely from the effects of the 80 degree heat.

He also recalls the solicitous gaze of friends wondering whether John Hayes’ brain had gone soggy from running 10,000 meters in the sun.

The plane mushes through the whirling snow towards the runway. The librarian acquires a sudden sense of unreality. He can make out highways passing beneath him, but what are those objects protruding from the snow between the lanes?

“Cars?”

His adviser in the nearby seat confirms that they are cars.

Hayes clears his throat.

Maybe his friends should have been more aggressive.

But the plane lands flawlessly to Hayes’ amazement, and the lady, Kathryn Feyereison, an employee in the receiving department of Wagner Spray Tech, is waiting in the terminal to greet him, with smiles and a new wool scarf.

Kathy and John, 1982

“Is this . . . ” he stammers.

“Normal for Minnesota? No. It’s a storm. But it’ll pass. You’ll love Minnesota.”

John Hayes gamely offered to consider this possibility. Four days have now intervened, allowing him decent convalescence time from the first shock.

“The first thing out of the terminal,” he said, “I had to take pictures. I had to be sure I had all this stuff in my camera to convince my friends in St. Petersburg I wasn’t making it up. There were these cars with snow up to the windows. They were buried on the road shoulders up and sticking out at wild angles. Plows were stuck. The snow kept falling and blowing, and it was just absolutely awesome.”

But after four days acclimatization in Minnesota, Mr. Hayes, how would you describe it now? Do you have a word?”

“Yes. Awesome.”

They met on the beach in St. Petersburg over the Thanksgiving holiday. Hayes was sipping a beer, writing some notes and absorbing the sun. He noticed a woman, clearly a tourist from the milky cast of her skin and her technique of listening to seashells. She was slowly making her way up the beach, exploring for shells. It struck Hayes that some tutoring from a trained local might be helpful.

“She was just beautiful with her mass of black hair and hazel eyes,” he said. “We talked about this and that and then had a fish sandwich and the next day we went to Busch Gardens in Tampa, and after she left we corresponded. She sent me this column from The Minneapolis Star in which this guy was telling all of the Florida residents suffering from frozen fruit that Minnesota was the place to spend a winter vacation and explaining the great attractions like watching the dome to see if it would deflate. So Kathryn and I agreed I should come for a week.

“We got rerouted all over the place because of the traffic problems Friday, and the scene just blew me out, cars skidding, cars up to their radiators in the ditch. People were skiing to the stores. I couldn’t believe it. The next day, Saturday, she said we had to go to the beach. What beach? I asked. She said the beach on Medicine Lake. There I saw these little houses that looked like outdoor biffies. She said, no, those were fish houses, and people were fishing in there. She said some people actually brought TVs and carpeting and things like that in there, and you have to remember my idea of fishing is to go out on a cruiser and fish in the ocean and bring a case of beer and lie in the sun and jump in when you get hot. And here were these people on the ice. It was just out of sight.

John, Minnesota, 1982

“The thing that really terrified me later was riding down a street from the top of hill. I was just the passenger. But coming down I pounded my feet into floor board trying to brake the thing, because I thought sure she’d crash. But imagine! People getting up at 6 o’clock in this stuff, getting into their cars, going to work and actually functioning. I had those thoughts when I tried jogging in 10 below. I bundled up because I read all those running manuals, and they keep talking about penile frostbite running in cold weather. I can’t believe I’m living through this.”

The reason is that in Florida John Hayes wears his socks to bed when it falls to 60 above.

But about those frostbite remedies, John . . .

John, Lake Superior, 1982

PS – For the record, I was misquoted!

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