We have reached the end of a mid-March week where the daily temperature hovered around 20 degrees and the north wind was reluctant to calm even for a minute or two. College basketball has been a nice diversion, but the real March Madness has been my general attitude toward the wicked ways of Mother Nature as she thumbed her nose at the Twin Cities in the final days of the season. Even though it's Minnesota, Mother Nature is never passive aggressive.
Thankfully, Sunday morning felt different. The sky was a deeply hued blue. That coveted sun promises to be around for the duration and a tad higher in the sky with each passing day until the end of June.
And I was in the kitchen.
Our kitchen is small, but with windows to the south and west it eagerly welcomes ol’ Sol in whenever she decides to spread her wings and emerge from the superfluous gray of a Minnesota winter. It was around 10:15 Sunday morning when those glorious rays were beaming in from the southeast catching my feet as I leaned up against our west kitchen countertop.
I had just made granola (oats, walnuts, almond slivers, coconut, pepitas, sunflower seeds, cinnamon, a little maple syrup and coconut oil, 300 degrees for half an hour, and you’re good to go) and the smell of those wholesome ingredients coming together as one in baked goodness lingered in the air. The still-warm granola was tossed into a cup of my beloved Chobani key lime yogurt, and you know what? There was a fair amount of happiness happening in my mouth.
C’mon now. One likes what one likes.
There was coffee in my mug — good coffee, made from beans that I regularly order from a place in Lincoln, Nebraska (the Mill) that I love. I haven’t been able to find beans that come close to those, so I order four or five packages every couple of months or so. You can blame the pandemic on that one. But I’m telling you — it’s worth it. Living with lousy coffee every morning is simply un-American, and I won’t tolerate it.
From my sunlit, yogurt-granola-and-coffee-infused perch, I could hear my 11-year-old entertaining himself in the basement. He was doing something that required commentary. I believe it might have involved some form of weaponry — just a hunch here, but probably something he’d seen on YouTube. He has seen a fair amount on YouTube. Two nights earlier, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Runnin’ Down a Dream” emanated from his amped-up Fender Squier Telecaster. (Guitar lessons are really starting to pay off!) The point is, positive sound of any kind produced from my child goes into the “happy” file.
I looked up toward the far corner of our cozy, little kitchen, and there was a 10-pound, 10-week-old lab-mix pup (our sixth foster pup, ZuZu) grinding away on a no-hide bone as if her life depended on it vanishing within the next five minutes. Her eyes caught mine as if to say, “Whadda you lookin’ at?”
OK, so the cherry on top of this privileged, Midwesterner-, bitching-about-yet-another-long-winter-in-Minneapolis story is the music that was playing while all of this was happening at that 10:15 Sunday morning moment on the last full day of winter 2023.
The SiriusXM Sinatra channel alone is almost worth the annual subscription price — and in this case, it was a live version of the Chairman doing “My Kind of Town.” Although I don’t know where it was recorded, I’m guessing it might’ve just been the City of the Big Shoulders, because there was enthusiastic applause when Frank’s phenomenal phrasing finished. Over the years, I’ve never really been able to pinpoint why, but wherever I might be and whatever I might be doing, if Sinatra is playing in the background it just makes everything feel better. I imagine myself in the darkest of alleys, surrounded by hoodlums packing heat. A car drives by blasting “Come Fly With Me” out the windows. Suddenly, those thugs turn into grandmas packing warm cinnamon rolls or cherry pies. It’s the Sinatra Effect.
Now some might look at this as just another two minutes on a random late-winter Sunday morning at 10:15. But this wasn’t just any winter in Minneapolis. The city has received 80 inches of snow (so far), making it the eighth-snowiest winter on record. And the average temperature the week of March 13 to 19 was about 16 degrees. So I’m kind of done with winter, and this was the last full day of the official season.
Sunday. Sun. A kitchen and its smells. Comfort food. Coffee. A kid having fun. A contented puppy. Sinatra.
Winter. We’re parting on a good note.
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