On the patio last Sunday after church a couple fairly new to the church approached me and said: "You're from Minnesota aren't you? Would you like these two tickets to hear Garrison Keillor on Tuesday night in Santa Barbara?" Speechless, I took the tickets and they walked off.
The tickets were fabulous, about six rows from the front of the huge Arlington theater on the right side facing the stage. I did not prepare myself to be swept into a place few in the audience could go to; childhood memories of Minnesota winters and the attitudes of those "dark and serious people called Lutherans" who populate the state. This gifted poet and singer, story-teller and theologian wove and uninterrupted tale for 90 minutes while I held Martha's hand and laughed and misted up.
What I most appreciated about Garrison (I must refer to him by his first name) is his ability to understand a region and tweak it. His language was not comic nor sarcastic, but gentle and tender. These funny folk he (and I) grew up around are both strange and dear. Garrison gets the reality that winter really does define those of us who grew up in Minnesota. There are some other seasons for certain, but the defining season is winter, beginning in October and morphing monstrously into January and February and then persistently lingering sometimes into May.
In Santa Barbara the people I know nuance winds and tides, different seasons of the ocean and the skies around us. I love sitting with friends on the beach just staring at the water, noticing the birds and spotting the dolphins and seals. But last night I had my first serious bout of homesickness for the region that shaped me. Walking through deep snows and blustery winds was fun. Hot coffee with friends in a Caribou on a cold day did create a suffering community. Cross country skiing in -10 degrees at night with Randy around the lake under the harsh light of the moon bonded a friendship. I'm glad I'm living where I am, and glad I came from where I did.