Writer’s Block: I’m thankful for the early spring!

After feeling like the 2010-2011 winter would never end, the 2011-2012 winter feels like a well-earned reprieve from the normally slow warm-up we experience in Minnesota.

Eric Hagen
Eric Hagen

As I am writing this column on Wednesday, April 11, the temperature is hovering around 50 degrees and the 10-day forecast mostly predicts the high 50s with a day or two in the 60s.

So Minnesota has given us another slap of cold wind in the face before truly becoming late spring and early summer.

I am not complaining though considering how blessed we were to have a warm March. Instead of hunkering in my home to stay warm, I was out on my lawn chair, tossing a football and playing tennis and even made a trip to a beach by Lake Calhoun.

According to an April 10 article in the Star Tribune, the Twin Cities’ average temperature for March was 18.2 degrees above the average on the state climatologist’s books which goes between 1873 and 2012.

The Twin Cities experienced eight 70-degree days. The previous record was five. We all felt really lucky on St. Patrick’s Day because March 17 was the earliest 80-degree record on the books.

This early warm spell is making me think ahead about my summer plans. It should be another exciting and busy few months!

I cover the cities of Andover, East Bethel and Ham Lake. Andover and East Bethel have back-to-back weekends of large community events called the Andover Family Fun Fest (July 13-14) and East Bethel Booster Days (July 20-21).

Ham Lake’s big community celebration of the year is the Ham Lake Snowbowl in February, but there is a Fourth of July event at Ham Lake Lions Park, which also hosts the Minnesota Patriot Ride on June 16.

The North Suburban Band Concert has a busy schedule until the Fourth of July. The pops concert at the Courtyards of Andover on Sunday, April 22, starting at 3 p.m., is our next concert.

We have several other appearances during the summer including playing for the Miracle League opening ceremonies May 5, playing at the Memorial Day program at Forest Hills Cemetery in Anoka and summer concerts in Maple Grove (June 13), Mounds View (June 21), Blaine (June 26) and Roseville (July 1).

We wrap up with the Fourth of July concert at George Green Park in Anoka.

I will also be visiting my mom in Missouri for a week in just a couple of weeks and visiting a friend in Boston for a week in early August.

The highlight of the trip will be a visit to Fenway Park to see the Minnesota Twins take on the Boston Red Sox. My other favorite summer activity is camping. I will be going to the Boundary Waters for a four-day weekend in June, but am not sure when else I will be free because of the aforementioned activities.

Minnesota is such a fascinating state to live in because of all the great natural and man-made amenities.

Whether you are new to the state or a longtime resident, the summer is a great time to hit the road and explore. Don’t just take the freeways to get to your end destination faster. Take a side road to drive through small towns with some character.

My friend Seth and I took Minnesota state roads instead of the interstate on our way to Canada last year. Although I complained sometimes about how long we were in the car, it was well worth driving through Otter Tail County.

I learned that this county has more lakes (1,048) than any other county in the United States. Seeing large statues of Paul Bunyan, Babe the Blue Ox and a giant fish was also more interesting than looking at flat land for miles and miles.

Have a great summer everyone!