top of page


On Sunday morning, it was thirteen degrees below zero in North Pole, Alaska.

That’s eleven degrees warmer than it was at my house.

Words fail - at least words I can use without getting fired.

I know that North Pole, Alaska isn’t THE North Pole; it’s a town just south of Fairbanks. But it’s almost at the Arctic Circle and a couple thousand miles north of me. This does not make sense.

Since it was too damn cold to go outside, I wasted a little more time checking out the Weather Channel. Cartagena, Columbia is a place I’ve always wanted to go, but have never been. The temperature was 87 there, 111 degrees warmer than western Minnesota. A place I have been, Svalbard, Norway, is on the other side of the Arctic Circle and only about 600 miles from the North Pole. They were basking in a veritable heatwave at 12 degrees, which was 36 degrees warmer than my place in the world.

Svalbard is the site where a vast selection of the world’s supply of seeds is stored, so in case some catastrophe wipes out crops there’s a backup plan. One reason Svalbard was chosen is because it’s so incredibly cold.


Granted, western Minnesota doesn’t have polar bears on the hunt. Advantage us. However, I am keeping a watch to the north, because it’s only a matter of time.

My great-grandparents came here from Oslo, Norway (where it was 25 degrees today). In 1880, my great-grandfather turned to his new bride and said, “Western Minnesota, baby. That's the place for us.”

While I don’t want to second guess my ancestors, there may have been a different choice. They had to get on a boat to come to America.

There’s water around San Diego. Lots of it. In fact, near San Diego is Coronado Island, which is, as you know, an island.

I don’t know what the homesteading situation was in San Diego, but in 1885, long after great granddad would have arrived, all of Coronado Island was purchased for $100,000. As of today, the value of private homes on Corondo Island is over 12 billion dollars.

I’m pretty sure my great-grandparents wouldn’t have been in the running to buy the whole island, but they probably could have swung a lot or two. That would suit me fine, because I wouldn’t know how to be a billionaire. But I’d be willing to take a whack at millionaire.

Not much corn, wheat, or barley was raised on Coronado Island, which would have made a change in the family business, but we do that every hundred years or so. Great granddad apprenticed as a leather tanner. He could have continued that career and made a fine living selling snappy saddlebags and leather satchels to the folks who did buy the island. When I was twenty, I went into the family business, which was corn, soybeans, wheat, hogs, and debt. I could have done the same thing out west, except by now I’d be making vegan wallets out of palm tree bark or something similar. I might even be wearing a gold chain and sandals.

Of course, there’s always a downside. I haven’t made direct inquiries, but I have a feeling the availability of lutefisk and tater tot hotdish might be a little dicey. Also, my cousins in California are big huggers, which generally makes me uncomfortable. But no place is perfect.

Did I mention that it was 64 degrees there this morning? That’s 89 degrees warmer than here.

Copyright 2021 Brent Olson

bottom of page