Here and Now

I’ve noticed a curious phenomenon among friends who’ve resided in the Twin Cities for a long time. During the nadir of winter, they tend to talk a lot about how much they’re looking forward to summer here: all the cool things they’re going to do when the weather improves; how they’re going to hit the lakes; how they’re going to sit on some rooftop patio and enjoy overpriced adult beverages; how they’re going to visit the sculpture garden or see a movie in Loring Park or buy some bok choy at the farmer’s market. (Okay, maybe not the bok-choy part.) They call friends who live in other cities to brag, to tell them what an amazing place they live in. It’s the reward, they say, for surviving the winter.

And yet, what happens, once the weather does get nice? Those same people leave town.

Such is the result, I suppose, of living in one of the most pleasant corners of the world—and of having an acute sense of how little time we have to enjoy it. Nothing can make a Minnesotan feel guiltier than sitting inside on a perfect summer day, knowing what is out there, silently beckoning. It’s nature’s version of your mother standing at the bottom of the staircase, imploring you to go out and do something.

This month offers a particular dilemma. August represents the meaty shank of the season, the perfect time to get away. That’s why our cover story is devoted to giving you various ways to take advantage of the remaining days of summer. From relaxing on an island resort, to visiting an underappreciated state park, the article touches on more than 20 easy ways to explore the best the state has to offer—to go out and do something.

Yet we also understand that this summer is one time when a lot of people are choosing not to get away. And while there are sensible reasons for staying put—gas that’s $4 a gallon, stratospheric air fares, the sure-to-be-dramatic finale of So You Think You Can Dance?—there is also a less-than-practical one: It couldn’t be a better time to live, work, or just hang out in the Twin Cities.

Over the next few weeks, after all, there’s the Aquatennial, the Fringe Festival, and the State Fair. Even the Twins are having an improbably amazing season. Things are particularly sweet for political junkies. Not only is Minneapolis–St.Paul hosting the Republican National Convention (for which you’ll find a handy, highly unofficial guide in this issue), but the state is at the center of the nation’s most interesting Senate race—and the presidential election, with Governor Tim Pawlenty widely considered to be among the leading candidates to serve as John McCain’s running mate.

That last development, among other things, is why the governor is the subject of a lengthy feature in this issue, an exceedingly entertaining profile by Minnesota Monthly writer-at-large Michael Tortorello.

After months of reporting and dozens of interviews with the governor’s friends, relatives, allies, and adversaries, Tortorello reveals Pawlenty to be a likeable but elusive—even contradictory—figure, even to those people he’s worked with for years. It’s one of the best stories I’ve ever read on Pawlenty, if a tad unconventional (not unlike its talented author), and I’m proud to have it in the magazine.

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