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BEST MONTH TO LEAVE THE TWIN CITIES Minneapolis 1999 -

Readers' Choice: January

Honestly, doesn't all the endless bitching over Minnesota winters grate on your nerves? Our television meteorologists behave as if it's a calamity every time a veneer of snow hits the lawn. (Paradoxically, of course, they go into burlesque fits of mourning for the snowmobile industry when we suffer a dry spell.) Come on! If you hate winter, why the hell live here? To hate January is, fundamentally, to hate Minnesota--for no other month better symbolizes the absurdities and eccentricities of life in the North Star State. To be sure, snot-freezing temps, dead cars, and slippery sidewalks make for a grind. Yet we too often ignore the pleasures of deep winter: the crackle and crunch of cold, dry snow underfoot (don't the Inuit have some word for that?), the intoxicating emptiness of the city streets at night, the beautiful goofiness of our swaddled fashions, and, most important, the perverse pride we can all take in having endured Mother Nature at her nastiest. That said, April is another matter entirely. A homely sort of month, a veritable weather purgatory lacking the virtues of either winter or summer. In April one can neither swim in the lakes nor walk upon them. The fish don't bite, and even if they did, the angling season's not open. In the city, April reveals ugliness, as stratified layers of dog crap and a winter's worth of grime, cigarette butts, and assorted flotsam are exposed by episodic melts under drab skies. Yeah, romantics grow rhapsodic in their praises of this month of taxes and fools. 'Tis the season of rebirth, they all say. True enough. But birth is messy and harrowing and full of discomfort. Just ask your mom.

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