True North


Finally, someone said it. I was listening to a talk show about weather when a caller made mention that the term “Northern Minnesota” is often used incorrectly. I’ve noticed it myself on statewide weather forecasts and in conversations with people who are not from northernMinnesotawho claim this heritage-kind of like the guy who buys a used Army jacket and claims to have once been a sergeant.


First off, I give my location based on distance fromNorth DakotaandCanadaand prefer to say I am from northwestMinnesota; it just seems a more accurate statement. Northern Minnesota could be anywhere from East Grand Forks toInternationalFallsand onto Grand Marais while northwestMinnesotais…us.


I almost get a little rush when people fromMinnesota’s more tropical areas claim the be northern Minnesotan. I’ve heard the joke that theMinnesotastate legislature regardsSt Cloudas the northern edge ofMinnesotabecause of our light representation due to lower population. We are a political area seen by some of the elected as southernManitobaor easternNorth Dakota. Being of northern descent, I’ve learned that you take the good with the bad based on climate. We seem to get more cold weather but have avoided the huge amounts of snow and rain that folks in theMoorhead,Alexandria, Breckenridge area receive. However, we also have fewer trees (higher-priced ag land is even eliminating shelter-belts) which means the wind blows harder at least until you get out more to the Grygla area. If I am going to own the pain of northernMinnesotawind chill then I don’t want others to claim their character has been forged by the same harsh climates that makes tough northerners. The reality is that they watch our battle from the warmer sidelines.


I would never want to create hard feelings or competition but I would break down northernMinnesotainto several micro-geographies. The Highway Two corridor ranges anywhere from the Pine to Prairie land out near Fosston and Lengby to the cold, barren snow-blindness-inducing tundra along Highway 75. Actually if you follow Highway two as far asDuluthyou are still in northernMinnesotabut into a subdivision of hockey and taconite pellets called “the Range.” If you follow Highway 59 too far south you’ll eventually exit true north in exchange for “Lakes area.” Here is where you should be on the look-out for lots of people who have recently retired from a job in the tech industry, decided to open an antique store, wear a fedora or golf hat and “find themselves” while engaging in meaningful discussions with the local coffee shop barista. Hallock,LakeBronson, Kennedy etc are “deep North” and protect us from invasion byCanada(unless they are here to spend money-then please invade away.)


Maybe my northern pride flared after the recent cold snap prior to impending winter. Kind of like a slap to the head before a football game that makes you believe the pain is normal and even constructive. Maybe I just like being from southernManitobaor easternNorth Dakotaor whatever this land is named. I know we will soon have a chance to earn our legend and pride again as the wind, cold and snow on the fourth season is right around the corner.

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