This is South Dakota

I’ve been reading with interest about all the people out there who are interested in making the move to South Dakota. I have to admit, this is a new one on me, because I always thought the migration in our state was out of the area, but, good for the people who are recognizing the benefits of a small state.

South Dakotans are traditionally pretty proud of the state (at least, those of us who have made the decision to stay). I, too, am a proud member of the Sunshine State. While not all of us South Dakotans agree on what there is to be proud of, we can all agree that the state has some wonderful redeeming qualities. Nothing beats South Dakota on a lazy August afternoon or a warm and lovely May morning.

I worry, however, that the people deciding on our state are doing so on that May morning or and that August afternoon. They need to be aware of the fact that South Dakota has other faces and we are not called the “Land of Infinite Variety” for nothing. I’ve mentioned this to people and most will say, “Yes, yes, we know it can get hot and sticky, but really, that doesn’t happen too frequently!” I beg to differ. I’ve lived in South Dakota all my life and the one thing I can tell you is that if I hang a wrinkly blouse in the closet because I took it out of the dryer too late, I can go back two days later and wear that blouse because the humidity has smoothed out the rough places. South Dakota is not next to any large body of water, but the whole state is a humidity factory.

Then, there are the bugs. I once visited Germany where they not only had no screens on their windows, but they frequently left them open to the night air. I was fascinated by this folly. If you leave an unscreened window open on a lovely evening in South Dakota, you will look like a test lab for flies and a breeding ground for mosquitoes! We take our bugs seriously, and we work hard to keep them outside, but they are here in great abundance!

Winters, however, are the thing I want to talk to you about. You really cannot judge South Dakota until you’ve spent a cold, icy, blizzardy winter here. Not all South Dakota winters are equal and it is important to remember that a mild winter, such as the extraordinary one we have been experiencing this year, can turn on you and suddenly resemble the picture that I have included above, of the road in front of my house.

The only variable is how cold or how snowy it will get. The cold can be tolerated by bundling up in every winter wrap you own and then walking stiff-legged to your vehicle, which depending on its tolerance may start or may say, “Are you kidding me? It’s colder than Frozen out there! I’m not going anywhere.” Cold is insidious and it causes the bravest people to put on extra socks, layer their gloves and mittens and wear stocking masks that far pre-date the current Covid masks and are twice as confining!

As for snow, it is the great leveler. No one, no matter how rich or powerful, is any more likely to go anywhere than the most meager person in the state if there is a good snowfall on. Since most snow in the state is preceded by a nice layer of ice, that makes walking equally treacherous! And if the wind is blowing, and take my word for it, the wind will be blowing, then you’re lucky if it doesn’t pile the snow in against your doors and windows and keep you home until it melts!

I believe I already mentioned that South Dakota is the land of infinite variety and I truly meant that. We have temperatures in the 60s, when people dig out their shorts and break out the barbeque grill. A day later, we are layered in every sweater we own and the barbeque grill is under a foot of snow. Then, when we are convinced the snow will last forever, it turns to slush and then to mud. Is that varied enough for you?

Perhaps you get the impression that I do not love my state. That is not true, but I believe in full disclosure and I think everyone thinking about being in our fine state needs to know….this is South Dakota!

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