Uff Da: My Midwesterner’s Bucket List

About a year ago, I actually started a bucket list. Items on that list include: stand in the Tower of London, visit the Pyramids at Giza, run a marathon, write a book. I accomplished one of those items in 2015, and I’m working on crossing off another in 2017. When I realized this winter that I had never been ice skating, my friends were astounded. How had I grown up in the Midwest and never ice skated? Easy. My tiny hometown didn’t have a rink, and the nearest one was 48 miles away.

Plus, I hate being cold.

But, that got me thinking…what other Midwestern rites of passage have I been missing out on?

Behold, my Midwesterner’s bucket list. (Let me know if I left anything out.)

1. Go ice skating.

This past weekend I crossed this item off the list. My husband graciously agreed to accompany me skating, so we headed to the quaint downtown rink for some fun. He scared me a bit by asking if I was going to wear snowpants. When I asked why, he told me they would soften the fall. Great, I thought, snowpants will make me look twice as foolish. This was the scene that kept flashing through my head:

bambi on ice

I decided to forego snowpants, knowing that if I fell too many times, my bruised ego (and backside) would have me fleeing to the car. I’m thankful I only fell once in the entire 30 minutes I spent on the ice. My husband endured the pain (literally) of trying to keep me upright the majority of the time, although I ventured out on my own for a couple of laps.

2018 Winter Olympics, here I come!

2. Attend a barn dance.

Even though I attended NDSU for both my undergraduate and master’s degrees, I never spent any time getting down at a Johnson’s Barn Dance. Oh, I saw plenty of announcements for the events and have friends who frequented the barn, but I missed out on going. What in the world was I doing all those years…?

3. Eat lutefisk.

I’m of German and Irish descent, and I grew up in South Dakota, so my exposure to this Norwegian dish came from watching Drop Dead Gorgeous. I remember a character describing it as “cod that’s been soaked in lye for about a week…it’s best with lots of butter.”

yuck

I see advertisements for community events every year touting this traditional dish, but I haven’t been brave enough to try it…yet.

4. Make lefse, goulash, or Swedish meatballs.

I’ve eaten all three of these dishes but have never made them myself. I’m neither Swedish nor Norwegian, so those delicacies were not mainstays in my house growing up. I remember my mom making goulash a few times at home and eating it at school, but my elementary brain never grasped the cultural significance (only the supposed torture of having to eat what I thought was such a gross entree). But it does seem like the Midwestern thing to make…

Watching my in-laws make lefse makes me wonder if I’ll ever be brave or patient enough to tackle the task. In December I enjoyed Swedish meatballs for the first time and realized how delicious they are…which is why that dish may be the easiest one for me to scratch off this list.

5. Ride in a combine or tractor.

I’m a city kid (cue laughter). My hometown of Turton, SD, has a population of 48 people and my next-door neighbors growing up were farmers. Considering how many family members I have who are farmers, I’m kind of ashamed to admit this item is on the list.

Maybe I should just pretend?

tractor

6. Ice fish. Hunt an animal.

Around here, outdoor sports reign supreme. Opening weekends of pheasant and deer hunting should be state holidays, considering how empty businesses, cities, and schools are when they come around. Thanks to my hatred of the cold, ice fishing has never held any appeal. I’ve heard from friends that it’s quite fun, but I’ve yet to believe those delusions.

I’ve also never been hunting. I didn’t grow up with brothers, and my dad only casually hunts, so the sport never called to me like it did to others. But I can see how stalking prey and experiencing a rush of adrenaline as you take down an animal can be exhilarating.  

7. Sled on a toboggan. Or inner tube.

When I think of tubing, I think of summer sunshine and a glassy lake…not snow. And sledding involved a thin piece of plastic with a cheap rope that usually broke after a couple of runs down a hill. As a kid, I was never brave enough to pull a Kevin from Home Alone and use one to sled down my staircase. Now I’m definitely not brave enough…or limber enough to withstand the crash.

sledding

Well, that’s it, folks. I’ve admitted the countless ways I’m less Midwestern than your average North Dakotan (who was born in South Dakota). But, ice skating didn’t go too horribly, so why should I be afraid to cross off the other items?

What would you include on your Midwesterner’s bucket list?

Featured Image courtesy Flickr user magne.alvheim.

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