Saturday, May 28, 2005

Hammock Rides!

People started to drift off in the mid-afternoon, with the last of the Minnesota Long Goodbyes ending just about dusk. A curious habit of Minnesotans is that they start saying “Goodbye” long before they actually intend to leave. They may say that they have to leave around five and then slowly (while finishing a story they have been telling) locate their articles (hats, rain gear, the dish from the potluck, etc.) that need to leave with them.

While rounding-up spouses, children, pets, and the like, they may finish the coffee that they were drinking and start gravitating outside. Once there, it is obligatory that they tell you exactly how thankful they are that you held this little get-together and how nice it has been to see you again. You, being the gracious host, will reply in kind and insist that it not be so long a delay before the next time. There may be handshakes and hugs exchanged at this point.

Here, The Minnesota Long Goodbye takes one of three paths. Parents may spend a few more minutes (up to an hour) preparing their children for the car trip and have another cup of coffee in the yard while waiting for the little ones to finish their goodbyes, bathroom trips, etc. Siblings (or close friends) may exchange notes on upcoming events that they are planning on attending. (“You will be at Jeannie’s School Play next week, right? It will be in the gymnasium at noon. Jeannie is playing a tomato. She should make a real splash!” or similar discussion.) Another cup of coffee may be offered but at this point it should be, politely, refused. If the host is a farmer, this portion is likely to be crop based. If both the guest and the host are farmers, this part is guaranteed to be crop-based. (“I see you’re still using that old traveling gun irrigator… when do you think you will install a center-pivot?” or “I see you’re planting sorghum this year… I considered it but it seemed too much trouble.” and similar openers are appropriate.) If the event was held on the farm, a short tour of the crops may ensue at this point.

Finally, the guests will work their way (slowly – you don’t want to appear to be in a rush to leave, do you?) to their car. A few more goodbyes and some more conversation are exchanged at this point. The car is then un-locked and loaded-up. A few more words are exchanged through the open window of the car before the keys are turned in the ignition.

The guest will usually wave out the window (though this part of the long goodbye is often omitted in inclement weather) on their way out of the drive.

But I seem to have gotten off the main point of today’s missive. In the words of every small town newspaper in Minnesota, “a good time was had by all.” It really was a lovely party and I got to see a number of people that I haven’t seen in too long a time.

Let’s not make it so long next time.

Don Bergquist – 28, May, 2005 – Kensington, Minnesota

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