A Long Wonder

The seven wonders of the world? There are many more wondrous people, places, and things than that in Minnesota alone.

Of course there are more than seven. But you have to cut it off somewhere. And “seven wonders” is such a catchy phrase, historically and culturally and euphonically and such. Still, if we had decided to go beyond, it’s not as if we didn’t have candidates:

—Gump Worsley,

—Betty’s Pies

—the walleye

—and, what the heck, the eelpout

—our adorable insecurities. For instance, the way we love, love, love our TV news anchorpersons, even though we know it’s crazy, that they can’t possibly return our affection in kind, that they won’t dote on our offspring the way we stalker-dote on theirs. Hey, so we dig the unrequited thing. So sue us. There’s also the quaint way we have of reminding newcomers to our state that they’re not native Minnesotans for about the first 20 years of their residence here. And, of course, our fondness for the concept known as “Minnesota nice.”

—the Minnesota Miracle of 1971. It had to do with tax reform and school financing, among other things. Yes, it’s a wonky wonder, but it’s worth Googling.

—the Minnesota “long goodbye,” most memorably chronicled in Howard Mohr’s essential ethnography-cum-laff-riot How to Talk Minnesotan

—Pierre “Pig’s Eye” Parrant

—Jeno Paulucci

—Sid Hartman (Wonder is a complex emotion.)

—Butter as an artistic medium

—Lutefisk as a butter-delivery vehicle

—Cholesterol as an expression of maternal love

—Sister Kenny

—J. F. Powers. Have you read Morte D’Urban? Have I not mentioned this like a zillion times before? It’s okay if you aren’t quite sure how to pronounce the title. You can call it Mortay Dee Urbane if you like, as long as you read it.

—August Wilson

—wild rice

—spring wheat

—Jane Grey Swisshelm

—Patty Berg

—the State Fair Talent Show

—the Falls of St. Anthony

—the Washburn brothers, the Dayton brothers, the Coen brothers

—the Foshay Tower

—Joe Kapp

—Dan Patch (check out the new book, The Great Dan Patch and the Remarkable Mr. Savage, by regular MNMO contributor Tim Brady)

—the Bemidji Way, a far more useful approach to life than the Code of the West, the Way of the Samurai, or the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

—Eloise Butler

—Lake Aggasiz

—John Berryman, whose poetry celebrated “Lake Street, where the used cars live!” and who wrote, years before he leapt to his death from the Washington Avenue Bridge, “What he has now to say is a long / wonder the world can bear & be. / Once in a sycamore I was glad / all at the top, and I sang.”


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