Minnesota 101: A love letter to all things officially Minnesotan

Dear Minnesota,

It’s no secret that fall is one of your four best seasons. The back-to-school, autumn rush is a wonderful time to be with you, from the deep-fried smells wafting from the Great Minnesota Get-together* to the amber, ruby and mustard leaves surrounding the Mississippi River Valley. I truly envy all the new college students, convening from all reaches of the globe for the first time in the Land of Sky-Blue Waters.

Yet for some reason, throughout my three years at Macalester College — one of the many things I love about Minnesota — I’ve heard all sorts of complaints about you. “These aren’t real cities,” says the resident of the actual, real-life city of Saint Paul. “Minnesotans are so passive-aggressive,” says someone who was just asked about their day. “It’s too cold here,” says the probably legitimately cold person. Don’t listen to the haters, Minnesota.

You’re no flyover state to me.
As a Minnesota native, I’ve been #blessed to know your top-notch statehood firsthand. I love all the things officially Minnesotan (loons, blueberry pancakes, Babe the Blue Ox, Prince, etc.). I also love all the things unofficially Minnesotan: the Mississippi River, caring about people, hockey, bike paths, lakes, populism and food on a stick. It’s hip to say “you betcha” and “ohfersure.” It’s polite to smile at people on the street. Trust me, everybody does it.

I know sometimes people think that there isn’t much worth exploring about you. I understand how this is hurtful, but make like a Minnesotan and cut them some slack. They probably haven’t experienced the 310 beauteous miles of the Superior Hiking Trail or waded across Lake Itasca, the birthplace of the mighty Mississippi. They certainly haven’t visited the Native American Burial Mounds, crunched into a Salted Nut Roll or trekked to the Ice Caves. Certainly anyone who has grabbed coffee in Uptown, caught a show at First Avenue or strolled through the Walker Sculpture Garden would only have great things to say? You betcha!

Let it be known that though you may be short on palm trees, celebrities and saltwater, you’ve still got it goin’ on. I’m not saying you’re perfect — oh no — but there is plenty to love. Say it with me: Cornfields are beautiful. Lakeshores are not subpar beaches. Farms can be a destination. The Vikings may yet win a game.

You’ve been a wonderful place to grow up, Minnesota. Your home-grown charm has taught me to value everything, from the old-fashioned humility to the agriculture. Your affinity for butter, top-notch public radio and mosquito infestation make me a stronger person. Thankyouthankyouthankyou.

Keep doing your thing, Minnesota.

xo, Jolena

*The Minnesota State Fair. 5/5 stars. Would recommend.