As we were preparing last December for our southern travels, I was asked by more than one person, “will you be back in Crosslake by St. Patrick’s Day?” And told by others, “don’t miss St. Patrick’s Day.”
Well, without regard to when St. Patrick’s Day fell on the calendar, we had planned to return to Crosslake on March 15th. Phew…two days to spare.
Snow or no snow, March 17th signals an end to winter for this northern bunch who endure double-digit below zero temps and wind chills that rattle your bones. So, celebrate they do. Our small community of 2,200 swells to about 25,000 revelers, all wearing green.
Why does a small town in North Central Minnesota roll out the green carpet for their friends and neighbors? Cabin fever. If you live in the north woods, you do one of three things in January and February…embrace the outdoors in all its snowy glory, leave or hibernate. It’s the third group, those wrapped in their woolies and huddled in front of the fire-place for two months, that throw open their sashes and welcome the masses to celebrate the arrival (soon) of spring.
So, whether it’s 70 degrees (a rare treat) or 30, the “locals” don their best Irish accents and take part in a “Clover Dash,” the search for the “Pot O’ Gold,” and line up along the parade route to great Ms. Blarney & Mr. Malarkey.
Since moving to Crosslake last June, I’ve learned something I had only previously surmised…or been told…small towns have a lot to offer. Having been raised in a Chicago suburb and having spent almost 40 years in the Des Moines area, I had accepted 20-30 minute commutes, crowed grocery stores and chain restaurants as the norm.
Our 14-aisle grocery store offers most everything we need, we walk to church and, setting the “summer swell” aside, there is nowhere in town I need to be that necessitates me leaving the house any more than seven minutes before my expected arrival time.
Within a 20-minute drive there are dozens of excellent eateries, with not a single chain-owned restaurant among them and the local coffee shop owner serves up lattes, teaches yoga, cuts hair and owns a boutique offering the latest styles.
I’ve slowed down. Maybe it’s retirement, or maybe it’s Crosslake. I spend many more hours in nature and in quiet contemplation. And, I greet the locals in the coffee shop with a smile and a morning chat, rather than cursing the mother of four in the Starbucks line ahead of me that’s ordered four frozen drinks, three pastries and a doggie latte.
Small town living has a lot to offer. Oh, and did I mention, our little town of Crosslake knows how to put on a party! Mark your calendar for St. Patrick’s Day, 2018 and join the fun!
Photo credit to Doug Oster