By Suzanne Sparrow Watson
There are times in life when friendship becomes paramount. Such was the case last week when one of my closest friend’s husband died after a three month struggle with pancreatic cancer. The funeral services were planned for Minneapolis so a few of us did what good friends do – we made plans to go to Minnesota to support our friend. It all sounded fine until someone asked me, “What is a California girl like you going to wear?” Hmmmmm…good question. I still have my ski socks and Ugg’s so I knew my toes would be toasty. As for the rest of me, my good friend Patsy offered to loan me her sheared beaver coat for the trip. Now that is a friend! So off we went, bundled with coats, scarves and gloves, ready for the tundra.
My only other venture to the North Country was driving Interstate 90 from Chicago to Mt. Rushmore. But that was in July, when our vistas were lush, green fields and wide open spaces. In contrast, last week all I saw was white. We stayed in Wayzata, a charming city on the north shore of Lake Minnetonka. At least that’s what they told me. All I saw was white snow banks, tapering down to a very large expanse of more white. They told me that was the lake. In the middle of the “lake” I could see some huts and, unbelievably, a couple of pick up trucks! How could that be a lake? One of the locals explained that they were ice fishing huts and that people drove out to them. In fact, at times when people have been over-served at the local pubs, they actually have drag racing out on the lake. It gave me the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it – what if the ice cracked? My California was beginning to show.
But as I say, Wayzata is a cute little town and we were told that Maggie’s Restaurant was the place to go for breakfast. So our first morning we put on endless pieces of clothing and ventured out to see what the excitement was about. Maggie’s is a typical greasy spoon diner – linoleum floors, Formica table tops, and waitresses with attitude. As the three of us nestled into a booth our waitress came over and asked if we’d like coffee. My friend Terri, a former model who is always dressed to the 9’s, asked if she could have a cappuccino. The waitress began to shake her head and said, “This is Maggie’s. You can have coffee or you can have coffee.” You just know she wanted to end that sentence with “princess”. We moved on to food, something Maggie’s is famous for. Knowing that we would not eat again until dinner, we ordered like we were embarking on a 10 day trek – eggs, bacon, hash browns, pancakes, French toast. Our order came quickly, plates filling every square inch of the table. The waitress came back to check on things and with a bemused smile, looked at Terri and asked, “Would you like some more cappuccino?”
That afternoon we went into Minneapolis for the services. It had begun snowing in the morning and would continue until early evening. A block from our destination two cars in front of us slid and crashed, adding to our anxiety. Between needing to wear four layers of clothing (which is a hassle when one needs to use the rest room) and navigating the snow to go anywhere I wondered to myself why anyone would live in that climate. Later that night, a large group of us ate at Gianni’s Steakhouse, a fabulous restaurant which I understand has a lovely patio out back. All I saw was white. Around midnight we decided to walk back to our hotel, a distance of four blocks. After all, it was only -5 with the wind-chill. But on that walk, with no traffic in the street and a crystal clear sky, I loved the quiet, peaceful feeling of crunching through the snow. It seemed like the perfect way to end such a sorrowful day.
Back home in Arizona, I held a new appreciation for the warmth. I guess I really am a California/Arizona girl at heart because I did learn this: if I ever have to live in that cold climate I’m going to learn to wear adult diapers.