True North


Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending the morning with two of my best friends, celebrating one of their birthdays. We had a great breakfast at a resort lodge near here, and then went for a small shopping expedition in a nearby town. Our little town is very small, and has not yet turned trendy and touristy. For this I am thankful, and that is one of the reasons I chose to live in my town, and not those nearby that are more the tourist scene. The town that we visited for shopping is one of the most trendy and touristy around. Don’t get me wrong…there are times when I like to go to one of the more touristy towns and shop, and this is one of my favorite towns in which to do such shopping. But I’ve discovered there’s trendy, and there’s trendy.

Being in north central Minnesota, your choice of the theme of the day is up north, at the cabin, or at the lake. Many things about the north woods are appealing to me. I go for the more natural north woods décor…pine trees, log cabins, lakes, rivers, snow, woodland animals, stone fireplaces, and a good fire ring. But when we move into the trendy type of décor, count me out.

I’m talking about the kind of décor that you have to sign over at least one paycheck for at a foo-foo shop that sells man-made goods that attempt to replicate nature. Large leather sofas and chairs, moose heads, woolen blankets, oversized pine cones that don’t even come from Minnesota, and lots of plaid. Heavy sets of dishes made from pottery with a pine cone design. Large Italian glassware to finish off the table setting. Oh, and don’t forget the scented candles…pine forest, maple syrup, s’mores, baked apple, and mocha java. And hugely overpriced baskets of fragile ornaments, pottery bowls filled with woolen balls, and large wildlife paintings done on fabricated barn doors. A log-like gas insert for your fireplace, allowing for a flat screen TV for above the raging inferno.

Nothing like the real furnishings that come with your typical mom and pop resort. Bamboo tables and sofa frames with aging, cracking leather cushions. Chrome-legged kitchen tables with grey formica tops, with chairs that matched. An old, rounded Kenmore fridge and a small gas stove. Mismatched dishes, a few odd pots and pans, and some old, colored aluminum glasses. And the scent came from the real wood-burning fireplace, not some perfumed candle. No special track lighting to accent your Italian glassware…just that old, dim lighting that gives an air of 50’s charm.

I noticed yesterday that these trendy shops come with a well-defined population of equally trendy shoppers. I am not one of them, nor will I ever be. They are overdressed for the north woods. They have on a lot of jewelry and make-up…something you never really need if you’re truly up north. They ooh and ahh at all of the fabricated north woods kitsch. Their cabins are likely million dollar homes, squeezed between the old mom and pop places that will soon come down to make room for more million dollar homes. There is little chance that they are taking their purchases home, putting on their casual wear, and filleting and frying some freshly-caught fish, splitting some wood, and making s’mores around the fire ring. No, they are likely having some of their up north friends over for fancy hors d’oeuvres and fine wine in Italian glassware. And there likely won’t be any Scrabble or Gin Rummy playing, scary stories around the fire, or hikes through the woods to forage for mushrooms.


2 responses »

  1. I love this oh-so accurate depiction of this shopping scene. But I would like to make a plea for wool blankets as being a step above the rest. Real wool blankets, that is, NOT polar fleece with buffalo plaid design or faux Hudson Bay stripes.

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