We Minnesotans consider ourselves a hardy bunch. That girl on the ski slope in the bikini–that guy ice fishing using his big toe for bait–that family waiting out the snow storm in the outdoor hot tub–they’re probably from Minnesota.
I’ve survived a 270 degree spinning “cookie” in my compact car on Interstate 494 during an ice storm in heavy traffic after dark. Lights blinded me as a ginormous grill careened toward my driver’s side windows. Thankfully, it stopped just in time to slow other traffic, allowing me to maneuver my vehicle back into the flow. It’s hard to drive when every cell in your body is shaking.
Another time, I shivered in the frigid air over an hour, waiting for a wrecking truck to arrive and pull my smoldering car off of springs that had coiled up in the undercarriage. Someone lost a twin mattress in the middle of my 55 mph lane after dark. I found it.
My dad said the challenges of life make us stronger. He needed to explain why Grandpa homesteaded in North Dakota.
Yes, living in these Arctic states, we’re proud of our storm-weathering resilience. But experience should also give us a healthy fear of sub-zero temperatures and icy roads. This brings me to the one other thing I now fear. It may seem esoteric, but, in my opinion, the third most dangerous winter season threat in Minnesota is the Tootsie Pop Lollipop.
During a recent visit to babysit my grandchildren, I was met at the door with the usual, “Gramma, Gramma, look-what-I-can-do/look-what-I-made/look-at-my-bleeding-gums-where-my-tooph-used-to-be” chaos.
I marveled at all of the wondrous sights. Before I could shut my gaping mouth, five-year-old “Sadie” swabbed my tongue and tonsils with her lollipop. She had the finesse of an ER nurse, only she was much more cheery. “Taste this, Gwamma! It’s fwuity!”
“Yummmm!” I said. “It is fruity. Is that mango or is it just sweet because it’s yours?”
She didn’t hear my question. Instead she coughed into her hand and twirled, “Goodness! I’ve just been coughing and sneezing all day!” as if she was experiencing something new and wonderful.
My daughter snickered apologetically.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “I’m immune. I never get sick.”
It’s now 5:05 a.m. and I’m in the bathroom writing this blog in long hand so I won’t awaken my husband. Seems I’ve acquired this exasperating tickle in my throat and no amount of coughing, sneezing, hacking, lozenge sucking, tea sipping, broth slurping, moist air snorting, honey, lemon juice, salt, turmeric, cinnamon, Vapor Rubbing, deep breathing, symptom ignoring, and blind optimism will make it go away.
Every time I go back to bed I fall into another coughing spell. I’ve sucked so many cough drops, they’ve carved a menthol trench to my throat. My ears itch so intensely, I’m contemplating affixing a Q-tip to my husband’s Black & Decker drill. To trick myself back to sleep, I’ve even tried pretending I’m a concentration camp escapee hiding in a culvert. If I cough, the Gestapo will find me and all of the others (including children). I inhale slowly, counting “one-two-three-four-five”, while pretend footsteps crunch snow on the ground above our heads. I inhale for the third time and–I start convulsing like a cat trapped in a paper bag. My husband rolls over and pulls the blankets over his head. Our cover is blown. We’re dead.
The worst part of this is that Sadie has been out-of-sorts–complaining about hot flashes, her aching back, and not enough fiber. (Okay, I made that part up.) In reality, Sadie is now wearing a cast–and she’s super excited because she’s the first member in her family to break a bone. I’m just happy broken bones aren’t contagious, since Sadie loves to spread her joy.
The point is–if you want to survive winter in Minnesota, drive carefully, stay out of the cold, and share the love, not the saliva, no matter how sweet it is.
If you love funny, feisty girls like Sadie, read CLEMENTINE with us and post your thoughts in the Comment Section January 15 or after.