Monday, February 2, 2009

February Light

A recent survey by the Pew foundation revealed the Minneapolis, which ranks near the top of the list as far as education, health, culture, and aquatic resources are concerned, lies somewhere very close to the bottom when it comes to cities that people actually want to move to. Denver led the survey’s list of popular cities to relocate in, followed by San Diego and Seattle, with other southern and western cities close behind. Among major cities, Minneapolis was surpassed only by Kansas City, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Detroit in its lack of appeal.

When I read such things, other questions immediately spring to mind—questions the researchers didn’t think to ask (leading me to wonder if I missed my true calling.) In particular, I would like to know how many of the people who want to live in Denver or Seattle have spent much time there. I think it would also be worth finding out what percentage of the people who live in such high-ranking cities as San Antonio, Tampa, and Phoenix, actually want to stay there. Perhaps they, too, are longing to live somewhere elsewhere.

I suspect that most Minneapolitans would be pleased to learn that only 16% of Americans would consider moving here. And we all know why—it’s too cold! With few exceptions, only natives and long-time resident have the wherewithall to reap the full fruits of the Minnesota experience.

Let me give you an example. Each year at about this time, I am startled once again by the beauty of February light. The sun has been rising from its nadir just above the horizon, and it’s getting brighter, but it still flows deeply into the house from its still-relatively low position. The snow has been on the ground for a while, and even though we haven’t had much of a thaw yet this year, the sun’s radiant heat has been enough to melt the surface sufficiently to create tiny crystals that reflect the light like a carpet of diamond-dust. The cold air doesn’t hold much moisture, but when the temperature rises to twenty degrees or so, it begins give off a moist, balmy fragrance. Add to all of this the visual onslaught of a brilliant blue sky and the roaring sound of the gusty wind in the spruce branches, and you’ve got an experience that people in Los Angeles or Tucson can only dream about.

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