Coming to Winona

A couple months ago, we convinced William he wanted to go to basketball camp. He reported daily what he learned: if you drop the ball, you have to run five laps; if you dribble with your left hand, you have to do five push-ups. Now when he taunts his sister or doesn’t say “excuse me” after burping at the dinner table, I threaten to send him to basketball camp.

Then when we moved to Winona, William suddenly knew what a chest pass was. Unpacking boxes together in the basement, he regaled me with numerous ways to execute the full-court press and zone defense. Now, he cascades through the neighborhood like his second home was the rec park:



We spend lazy afternoons stalking the high school marching band on our bikes as they parade around the neighborhood:


Just as unfathomable, Aaron is asked in less than a week to join a jazz combo, the great ask we have been anticipating for over eight years. Every where I look there are natural brunettes and full-coverage khaki shorts. Every where I look there is not Zoom Tan, vaping paraphernalia apparently designed to smoke opium,  plastic straws, or cosmetic surgery billboards. Aaron and I exchanged these texts a couple days ago:

“I’m in a coffee shop (locally owned!) and there’s a man reading a chapter book to his three-year-old daughter.”

“I’m at the pool and the high-school lifeguard just told a middle-schooler not to curse at his younger brother.”

The college cross-country kids run around the lake with shirts that read “River. Donuts. Bluffs. I love Winona.” They glow from their lack of irony.

So imagine my delayed horror when I was flicked off in the intersection yesterday.  I felt like Prince Akeem in Coming to America as I inadvertently cut off a car full of kids (probably from Wisconsin) with lots of obscure band names on bumper stickers. I was gently driving through town–soaking in all the majestic basilica, and the ones piled in the back seat turn around to look at me. I wave vigorously. These Winonans! So friendly! Then the driver sticks his hand out the window, and the Minnesota common loon would be aghast at how rudely his bird was flying. I truly didn’t know what was happening. I just kept smiling and waving with my wide Eddie Murphy grin: “Yeah, Winona, you’re #1!” Once I realized he was unhappy with me, I sat, stung in the locally-owned coffee shop parking lot, for a few minutes to recount whether he was driving with Minnesota plates. 

(Later that day, I saw a truck at the lake park with a sticker that read “diesel fumes make me horny,” which I deliberately misread as “diesel fumes make good honey,” you know, because there are so many locally-owned farmer’s markets, and he must use a special fuel to cultivate his home grown bee colony.)

Yet, we continue to be charmed. Here are some pictures from our afternoon in La Crosse:

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