It’s not fair! That was my reaction this week, as Susan and I spent a couple of days driving Highway 1 down the central California coast between Monterrey and Santa Barbara. As a Minnesotan, it was like being on a doomed prison break from the snow and frigid temperatures of the plains. The warm weather and beautiful scenery of lush green mountains tapering into the blue of the Pacific was an intoxicating taste of freedom. The sun, sand and steady sound of the curling breakers washing ashore almost hypnotized us into thinking that this is how our lives really could be. But the long arm of Midwestern reality has now arrested us and we will be transported tomorrow with an airplane load of fellow fugitives back to winter captivity.
It honestly doesn’t seem fair. Why should some people get to live in winter vacation destinations year round? The big bonus to living in a state like California is that if you really want winter, you can drive a couple of hours and park your self and your car next to a snow bank in the Sierra Mountains. Or if you want to walk the beach, you can be there in less time than it takes to shovel your driveway and chip the ice off your car in the Midwest.
I am always interested in the little real estate booklets that you can pick up as you enter the super markets. It is fun to look at what is available and imagine living in some idyllic setting, high up on a mountain side overlooking a valley or the ocean. But then I realize that a retirement mobile home park in the flatlands, surrounded by a high Spanish stucco wall, is more in my price range. Invariably the little booklet, along with my dreams, ends up in the trash receptacle even before I reach my car.
Garrison Keillor reminds us almost weekly on his Prairie Home Companion radio program that being a winter Minnesotan builds character, and that stoic self-denial and hardship is good for the soul. I can say “Amen” to that. I may not be able to dress in shorts and walk a sun splashed beach, but at least I can say I am a man of character. And having grown accustomed to self denial, I would not want the California coast to rob me of that badge of honor.
Right now it may not seem fair that some people have it all while others have to suffer. But a week from now my taste of freedom will be long forgotten. It won’t make a difference. I will once again be back in the routine of deprivation with all my other Minnesota inmates and comforting myself that things could always be worse. After all California has earthquakes and fires, fruits and nuts, and too many people without any character.
Click Here for an Email Subscription to the Blog