I love weeping willow trees. On a windy day I watch them whipping their branches wildly, showing off their flexibility! Because the branches bend, they don’t break. Flexibility is needed when traveling because often times expectations are not met. Either you deal with the disappointment or you go home. For instance, my sister, Barb and I recently traveled to visit my brother and his wife in Scottsdale, Ariz. We expected sunny, warm days with temps in the 70s. We were escaping from Minnesota in the winter! During the drive to the Rochester Airport in a dense fog, we chatted excitedly about what fun we were going to have.
Excitement gave way to anxiety when we went to pick up the tickets that Brother Larry had ordered for us. There was no ticket for Kathryn Little. There was a ticket for Barb Barrett. There was also a ticket for Kathryn Barrett. Now, my name has been Kathryn Little for 47 years, so this surprised me! I joked with the ticket agent that my brother obviously has never accepted my marriage as valid. Thinking that she would laughingly cross out Barrett and type in Little made me smile. After all, my brother had simply made a silly mistake. She did not smile. She did not change the ticket. She did call for back-up.
Three people came to escort me to TSA. I patiently explained that I was flying Delta, not TSA. They patiently explained that TSA was not another airline, but the Transportation Security Agency. I must have been thinking about TWA. By this time I was not thinking, I was in full blown PANIC mode. This was a seriously scary situation.
I am not ever a calm person!. My husband of 47 years is always telling me to “calm down.” I never do. I feared a complete nervous breakdown was in my immediate future. I literally started to sweat. I’m sure I looked very guilty instead of calm, cool and confident of my innocence. They did not take me to a small room or threaten me with “waterboarding.” They smiled as I babbled on about being a retired english teacher and counselor. They smiled as I asked, “Do I look like a terrorist?” More smiles and silence. They thought they could “break me” with silence. Well, silence would be preferable to “waterboarding.”
Eventually, one of the women asked me if I had any other identification besides my Minnesota driver’s license. I took out my credit card, my insurance card, my SELCO library card, and my Houston Historical Society card. Then the woman called a higher-up for assistance. She had me fill out a form swearing that I really was Kathryn Little while she talked to her boss on the phone. Other passengers started staring at me. They had taken my sister away. I felt like a fugitive. Then the woman on the phone said I was free to go because of verification of my driver’s license! They kept smiling at me in silence and patting me on the back. Obviously, my dignified demeanor had shown them the error of their ways! A beverage on the plane calmed me down by the time we arrived at the Phoenix airport.
My brother and his wife apologized that the temp was only in the 40s. Barb and I reassured them that we were “hearty Minnesotans.” During the night my brother’s house seemed cold. Maybe it was my overactive imagination due to my identity problem at the airport. It was not my imagination. The house heater had broken down. Not to worry, we were “hearty Minnesotans.”
During the week we traveled to Jerome, Ariz., a one-time mining town and now a tourist destination and art colony. We walked around and looked at the shops with snowflakes in the air. In one shop the owner looked at us strangely, and asked, “Aren’t you two cold?” I was wearing leggings and a light cotton jacket while Barb was wearing capris and a light cotton jacket. Barb replied, “We’re from Minnesota.” The shop owner replied, “Say no more!”
Later, we drove towards Sedona with its beautiful red rocks. They were even more beautiful topped with snow. Sedona had snow. Enough so that four snowplows were out. Enough so that we saw a bare chested young man juggle snowballs. Enough so that children were having snowball fights. Enough so that we were stalled in traffic for over an hour so that the highway could be plowed. At least we had beautiful red rocks to view while waiting. The weather was certainly changeable that day, because it snowed, hailed and rained before we got back to Scottsdale.
We had so much fun visiting even though the weather was not what we expected! Barb Barrett and Kathryn Little, nee Barrett, are flexible just like a weeping willow tree. We are also “hearty Minnesotans.” The following is a great winter soup with a hint of bacon and the sweetness of creamed corn.
Potato Corn Chowder
4 bacon slices, diced
1 large onion, diced
4 medium potatoes, peeled and grated
2 tbsp. all purpose flour
2 tsp. chicken bouillon powder
4 cups milk
2 cans of cream-style corn
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4-1/2 tsp. pepper
Real bacon bits for garnish.
Sprinkle of paprika for garnish
Fry bacon in large saucepan until half cooked. Add onion. Saute until onion is golden. Add potato. Stir well. Add flour and bouillon powder. Stir. Gradually stir in milk. Simmer uncovered or about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until potato is tender. Add corn, salt and pepper. Stir. Garnish with bacon bits and paprika. Makes 9 cups.