Let me be the first to tell you: there are few things more beautiful than Minnesota in the summertime.
Early mornings start by waking with the sun, breathing in clean, fresh air and walking the dog to the local bakery for a muffin and a coffee.
Endless days are filled with cabins, biking around the lakes, tubing behind the boat, jet skiing, mini golfing, running on the trails, exploring the sculpture garden, sunbathing on the pontoon, wakeboarding, fishing, yoga at the pub (yes.), beach volleyball, sailing, waterskiing, hitting a bucket of balls at the driving range, kayaking, camping, sweating on the tennis courts. Country music, lawnmowers and boat engines are the soundtracks to our summers. We are sunkissed and bleached and toned.
With dusk comes baseball games, happy hour on the patio, watching the sunset from the dock and chasing those last few minutes of sunlight.
Nights are for hammocks, bonfires and wishing on falling stars.
We eat pots and pots full of fresh corn on the cob, picked fresh from the farm a few miles down the road, buckets of chocolate chip cookies from the state fair, caprese salads with tomatoes and basil fresh from the garden. Nearly everything gets put on the grill. We have BBQ sauce dripping down our chins, whipped cream and berry juice making sticky hands and watermelon seeds littering the back yard. We eat freshly caught walleye and fish sandwiches from that stand on the side of the lake that’s only open when it’s warm outside. There’s always beer in the fridge and margarita mix in the freezer. We drink more summer shandy than water.
Sure, the tornado sirens go off once or twice a summer, but the storms are epic: thunder that shakes our houses and lightening that cuts across the horizon and reminds us how powerful Mother Nature is. And the mosquitoes… ohhh, the mosquitoes. Well, we Minnesotans have perfected the blend of citronella, light clothing, bug spray and bonfire smoke.
Minnesota summers are something special.
Now, based on our two and a half months of living here in the United Kingdom, let me tell you about ‘summer’ in England.
We curl up against the radiator, still running at the end of June, sobbing into our hoodies and blankets over our newly acquired scurvy, or whatever disease it is that you get when your body stops getting sunlight. We watch the constant grey drizzle coming down outside the window for the 30th day in a row. When we brave the outdoors, we are bombarded with swarms of gnats attempting to carry away our heads, cigarette smoke from that young mom who insists on standing right outside our apartment, baby in one hand and cigarette in the other, and shouts from the drunk men who might actually live at the local pub. One time, we wanted to recreate the feeling of summer, so we picked up a package of sausages to grill on the stove for dinner, but then I read an article that very same day about how someone found a human tooth in their sausage from the same cheap, chain grocery store. Biking to the gym requires rain gear, a change of dry clothing, plastic trash bags to cover our bags and generously applied BodyGlide to prevent chafing from damp… everything. So, we don’t go to the gym as much anymore. We are getting pudgy and pale. We fall asleep at night, prayers on our lips begging God for just one hour of the kind of sunlight that warms your soul, but it seems as though God might be busy with other things this summer. Or He’s just ignoring us.
In all seriousness, English summers aren’t quite that bad, but it certainly feels like it, especially when I’m constantly reminded of patios, docks and boats at home thanks to Facebook! I have been in a major ‘I miss Minnesota’ funk… the nice people, the lack of smokers and the sunshine rank right up there for things I’m looking forward to when I get home!