Seasonal Disorder

By the time this issue of Minnesota Monthly hits the newsstand, the last Pronto Pup will have been sold at the state fair, classes at the U of M will be in full-swing, and every overzealous gardener on this side of the Canadian border will have, let’s hope, stopped trying to pawn piles of zucchini off on everyone they know. Summer, in other words, will be officially over.

And to that we should all say, “Thank God.”

It’s not that I have a philosophical problem with summer. I consider it among the top two or three seasons. The food is good in summer. Beer tastes better in summer. Shoes are optional in summer. Those are all things one can get behind. I don’t even mind the guilt that accompanies the season, the feeling that on any decent day it’s every Minnesotan’s duty to do something outside. In fact, I actually like being out in nature, provided I don’t have to deal with anything too natural.

But unless you’ve spent the last six months living inside a burlap bag, you know that this summer was—to use a technical term—freaky. It started with a massive fire in the Boundary Waters and ended with a U.S. senator getting busted in an airport bathroom. In between, we witnessed a disturbing array of unpreventable disasters—hail, drought, floods, the Timberwolves off-season—and a single, massive, preventable one: the bridge collapse. Has there ever been a worse season in Minnesota? Ever?

Fall, unlike spring, is not usually considered a time of restoration. It’s supposed to be about turning inward, about retrenching, about refocusing on school, work, family. Shoes are usually required.

But if we’re destined to remember this summer as uncharacteristically depressing and bizarre, it only seems right that we think about this fall differently, as well. For once, it seems autumn should feel like the start of something. We could use a little renewal around here, after all.

Granted, changing how one thinks about the seasons is just a tad beyond the scope of a magazine. But we can do our part to help you feel a little better about the world—and yourself, which is where this month’s cover story comes in. It offers practical advice on the most common health questions facing Minnesotans: How to beat a winter cold; how not to catch a bug on your next flight out of MSP; how to get enough vitamin D during winter.

And if you’re not yet in the mood to improve your health, this month’s issue also includes several stories that offer a new perspective on the world around you, including an examination of why rising temperatures in Lake Superior have confounded and alarmed those who study global warming; and a revealing look at the followers of local radio personalities Lori & Julia. These pieces might not give you the warm fuzzies, but they will make you think, and, just maybe, allow you to forget about our summer of weirdness for a while. If nothing else, they will provide a small reminder that, even in the worst of times, life here is still pretty good. Unless, of course, you’re a Timberwolves fan.

Andrew Putz
aputz@minnesotamonthly.com

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