Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Minnesota Summer (or why we should be pleased that it’s over)

<body warned me about summer. Minnesota winter - as you too have discussed in detail one too many times - I dreaded the day I sent in my deposit to Carleton; it was the only thing that I (and everyone else native to Western Massachusetts) knew about this lake laden state.  Little did we know, the summer lurks patiently in Winter’s shadow, scheming a rebuttal of equal, if not greater, intensity.

I used to lived Hawaii, and one of my scarce memories is climbing into the black seats of our Volvo and loudly declaring “I’mhotI’mhotI’mhotI’mhot I’mhotI’mhot” until we got to where we were going, or I was told that I was being obnoxious. After my sophomore year at Carleton, I relearned what it means to be that hot. The night before my first day of work it was too hot to sleep, too hot to get out of bed, and too hot to make my requisite cup of coffee in the morning. Stupidly, I made my coffee anyway and watched the mascara drip off my face as I walked out the door. Jane Tandler aptly articulated the experience of hotness as such: “it’s like hot yoga, except the way you get through hot yoga is by knowing that it ends.”

Adjusting to living in a Minnesota sauna is one thing, and embracing life in the severe weather nucleus of Rice County is another. Now, we get lighting in Western Mass., and it’s gorgeous. If we’re lucky the power goes out, and we abandon our electronics to listen to the rumbling symphony until the rests between claps last too long to count. In Minnesota, the angels are way too freaking pissed off to be doing anything remotely resembling bowling.  

One of those unbearably hothothot nights, I awoke to white light exploding through the windows. Before I could exhale, a scream of thunder accompanied the flash that echoed in my chest. I thought I was dead. And if I wasn’t dead, I was going to be one of those people in that statistic that would surprise me at how high it was – I was going to be struck by lightning. I fled to the basement. It was late, but I didn’t know how late. It was still storming, but I didn’t know how badly, or when it would pass. Wide awake on the fiercely concrete floor, I spent the morning hours dreaming of sleep.

As an extreme weather veteran of sorts, I thought I had seen the worst of it. Of course, we are never prepared for climate’s arbitrary vengeance, among other arbitrary vengeances. I was heading to MSP on the first Wednesday of June, as the honking tornado warnings reminded me. Despite the empty meaning of the Rice County sirens, they strangely forewarned the devastating tornado that was blaring through my destination – Springfield, MA – with surgical precision.

I remember that weekend at home as one extended conversation about the weather. We were desperate to explain the unexplainable aftermath of the storm. In doing so, it occurred to me that we modify these disasters, calling them “natural.” We recognize that there is something organic about these wild tragedies, about this tragic chaos. And in our struggle understand the tiniest morsel of it all, we tell stories. These stories often surface in trite conversations during a daily social ritual: small talk. Like summer in Minnesota, at times these miniature narratives hold greater meaning than their modest title suggests.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *