So I’ve been sitting here wondering why one of my flowing missives was not showing up – wondering where exactly it had wandered off to, or if the cruel cyber-gods had just eaten it like a little word snack. Well I found it, and it turns out there were no cyber-gods involved, only one cyber-idiot (that would be me) who somehow inadvertently instructed this website to publish it on November 13 instead of September 13. Sorry, but that’s too long to wait for all this rambling goodness, so I now present to you The Shout-Out Blog – and stay tuned, because I want you to play along.
When you live in a place for a while, it’s easy to take it for granted. Your favorite coffee shop? It’s always right there. The clerk at Kwik Trip? Always the same nice guy. The gold and crimson fall leaves that line our streets and hills? Yeah, they’ll be there next year too. I think after a while people tend to forget that those itty-bitty parts of our day, all pieced together, form the answer to the fundamental question: Why do I love Winona? While I was driving around the other day admiring the dazzling fall color starting to cascade across the bluffs, I was thinking about all those little nuggets of good in Winona, all the pieces of the giant puzzle that transform life from good to great here, and I came to the realization that it was probably time for some shout-outs.
Now – this is by no means a comprehensive list of everything good in Winona — I’ll be relying on you at the end to give your shout-outs to help get us there. But this is the short list of the things just in the last three days or so that have made Winona a better place for me, listed in no particular order, and written if for no other reason than I think these places have earned a cyber-hug:
Ed’s (no name) Bar. I realize I wrote a bar first but don’t judge. I just happened to be thinking about it. Ellisa, the lovely Wednesday bartender, has remembered what I like to drink since the first time I ever went in there, and she is purely delightful to sit at the bar and commiserate with. And Ed has given music back to Winona in a big way – I think lit a fire even – and I’ve really appreciated having one place to go hear such a huge variety of performers. One night it’s soulful bluegrass, another night it’s pulsating techno, and the night after that it could be straight up indie rock. It’s cool, and we’re lucky the bar is here, even if it still doesn’t have a name.
And speaking of music, also heading up my list is Sam Brown. I had the pleasure of attending a planning meeting for his Midwest Music Fest recently, and let me tell you something – this guy is going to change Winona with his dreams. The music festival has taken Winona’s budding music vibe and run with it – spreading artists all over town and literally drawing thousands of people here to experience it. And you know where it started? His head. That’s cool. And he’s opening up a little place on east Third Street for art and music called Some Sum Studio, and he’s trying to get community radio going in town, and and and… Seriously folks. If everyone in town did one tiny fraction as much as Sam has done for this community, Winona, Minnesota would rule the world.
The guys at Daniel’s Ace Hardware get my big thumbs up for being the most genuinely pleasant and helpful people who ever have to solve my problems for me. I can’t help it if I am mystified by how to get my stupid garage door opener open to change the battery, and I’m so flippin’ relieved that we have a place like this so I don’t have to. I think every town needs a hardware store like Daniel’s, filled with local guys who like to joke around a little and don’t mind walking over and getting the battery you need instead of telling you what aisle its in and sending you off wandering on your own. They’re nice, and they’re kind of funny, and they never talk to me like I’m stupid, even though sometimes I really am.
And how many towns our size can say they have a place like Jade Community Acupuncture? Sure, there are acupuncturists all over the place, but it takes a special kind of giving to be a community acupuncture provider. See, community acupuncture is designed almost exclusively for the health and well being of a community — it takes Eastern medicine and makes it accessible for all at a very low cost, despite the fact that Jade Fang will never become rich doing it. But she doesn’t care – if you talk to her about it, she will tell you she feels a calling to help people, not to be wealthy. I say a shout-out is due for that. And by the way, I never saw myself as someone who would doze in a chair with a bunch of needles stuck in me – in fact if you told me a few years ago that I would be writing this I would have laughed in your face. But between Jade’s acupuncture and Chinese herbs, I am a healthier person at a price I could afford, and it’s made a believer out of me. I’m not alone – go sit in her waiting room sometime and random people will just start talking to you about how it has changed their life, and they’re not paid actors or anything. Just farmers and housewives and senior citizens and business folks. I think they would agree — we are blessed to have this in Winona.
Bloedows. There, I said it. I ate a maple long john the other day and it made me a little misty. I have no idea what they’re putting in those things, but yeah, I’ll stand in line for one. Twitching. Everyone in line around me? Doing the same thing until they get their Bloedow’s fix. That is some crazy goodness Bloedows, and my lips thank you, but my thighs hate you.
OK – this is the shout-out column, and it’s your turn. If you are a visitor to these parts, what would make you come back? If you live here, what makes you happy that you do? Let’s hear it folks…