We spent the second half of the week prior to last in fabulous St. Paul, Minnesota, to see the Frozen Four, or the NCAA national Hockey tournament finals. Well, more precisely, O saw them with her UMaine-affiliated friend and family, while I stayed in the hotel room and watched the kids. I thought maybe we'd have a little more fun than last year in Albany, but hockey towns in April are just not all that exciting; it would have been at least a three hour drive to the Spam Museum for example. It was mildly cold but for Minnesota I was expecting that anyway. The Twin Cities area has a significant Hmong (Lao hill people) population, but we never managed to get to sample the food; they're not exactly big on opening restaurants, we guess. (This is a lot like Filipinos: you won't find many Filipino restaurants even there there are signficant numbers, such as the Twin Cities, New Jersey, or Seattle.) The other thing I remember is that a lot of the locals seem to like wearing T-shirts and shorts in 40-degree weather. It was supposed to be 70 in St. Paul yesterday, so I assume those folks are now walking around in the nude.
On Saturday, I took a drive out to New Ulm, but didn't have enough time to visit the August Schell brewery there. The town is still very German in character; for example, the hairdresser's sign says Friseur. It is right on the banks of the Minnesota River, which is a significant wildlife habitat for much of its length, but still I wasn't expecting to sight a Bald Eagle flying over the parking lot as I was walking out of the local Target. That pretty much made my day.
As far as the hockey goes, Maine beat New Hampshire surprisingly handily (7-2) in the semifinal, but lost the final in overtime to the Minnesota Golden Gophers. It was too bad that Maine still had the lead with about two minutes to go in regulation, but they couldn't do it for Shawn Walsh, their coach who died earlier this year after a long battle with cancer. The Exel Center was overwhelmingly filled with MN fans that had been waiting a long time for a national title, and they were pretty gracious in victory, so I guess it was all good in the end. And ESPN is already calling this game an "instant classic," so there is some dignity in participating in what is definitely one the best college hockey games in the past ten years or so.
We've also been getting into spring. Already, it's good enough since our basement didn't flood like last year. It's nice to air out the house, buy new flowers for the outdoor plants, and let S0 play outside. We also swapped the summer and winter clothes, since it's already hit 75 this weekend. And, since we have ditched day care in favor of a nanny, it's like a genuinely new start.