New Englanders are nothing if not loyal to their region. I don't know the details, but somewhere back in the colonial era, Paul Revere hired a PR consultant to keep the new settlers from defecting to other new lands. And, hence, the myth began that nothing good exists beyond the western edge of Massachusetts. Some people actually believe that the world ceases to exist as you exit the Berkshires.
It can be quite admirable, actually; Minnesotans would rather die than be boastful. And so every article about composting, recycling rates, food trucks, commuters who bike to work, literary populations, farm to table movements, green space and thriving local music scenes all point to.........Portland. Portland has a healthy pride - and a kickass PR staff. Hiring a PR person for the city of Minneapolis would show intent to boast. And who do you think you are, my goodness, some kind of hussy who's too big for her britches? Heavens to Betsy.
I'm totally game to jump on the New England bandwagon and I've been daytripping like a Sunday-driver-yeah to take advantage of everything this area has to offer. But the colonial era PR person may have led the colonists to wrongly believe that some of these offerings only exist in New England (so don't leave!) - and those beliefs still exist today after being perpetuated by the descendents of that first PR person.
When we first arrived in New Hampshire last fall, there were a handful of kind, welcoming locals who genuinely wanted to fill us in on the joys of living in New England. Among their tidbits of advice, they always always said "And you MUST go apple picking. Here in New England, we always go apple picking in the fall."
And I would always answer: "Oh sure, we go apple picking every year, too. We're excited to try the apples here in New Hampshire."
Well, that tripped them up. 100% of the time. After a moment of silent confusion they might continue: "You've been apple picking before?" "Sure - in Minnesota. It's what we do in the fall, too."
"Oh. So they grow apples in Minnesota?"
"Yep. They do."
And then they would walk off silently to go question their existence.
This exchange happened over and over again and, although they were well-meaning, I started getting frustrated. And a little BOASTFUL (don't tell my youth pastor), talking about my sweet, sweet Honeycrisp apple and how I can't live without it and how I can barely even stomach a mealy Macintosh anymore. Macintosh......that's so 1975. And how I used to have a dog named Cider that we rescued from an apple orchard, in California no less, because we used to go apple picking in California, too, and doesn't that rock your world?
And, one by one, they were shocked and a little disappointed to learn that people in Minnesota - and many other places - already make annual trips to the apple orchard.
I even had one conversation turn snarky when I tried to extend the topic beyond my existing acquaintance with apple picking. After the 42nd round of "you really must go apple picking" I said "I heard the crop is suffering this year because of our weather this summer."
And her short, indignant reply told me to shut my dirty mouth, missy!
She said, "Our apples here are really good, actually."
No! That's not what I meant! I was trying to talk about the weather! And how it affects crops! Crops everywhere, not just here! I wasn't saying that you don't have good apples here! Sheesh.
The worst part was that this woman spent her childhood in Minnesota. But she had clearly blocked out all the school field trips to the apple orchard, the apple tasting in life science class, the family hayrides and apple cider donuts, the names "Aamodt" and "Pepin Heights." She was one of them now.
Later that day, I went to the grocery store, still irritated by the barrage of apple attacks. I picked up an apple, examined the skin, deemed it ok and put it in my basket. Then, on second thought, I picked it up and looked for the label stuck to the skin. What's the story, anyway? Where are these from?
And then I figuratively fall down laughing and can't stop even though people are staring at me and wondering why I'm laughing at an apple. Laughing, oh my god, can't stop.
Because this apple, in this New England grocery store, is from Fridley, Minnesota.
(Photo by Liam. In Minnesota.)