When Mike and I were first engaged, we talked about where we might end up living one day. He mentioned teaching at a Lutheran college in the Midwest and named a few in Minnesota.
I said: “But . . . those are in small towns!”
He said: “You think so? I think of those as small cities.”
Mike grew up in various actual small towns around Minnesota (example: Grove city, population 600 or so); I grew up in a suburb of Chicago (Wilmette, population 30,000 or so). At the time of this conversation, I had been living in Milwaukee–my idea of a “small city”–very happily for several years. So you can see why we had different understandings of seemingly simple phrases like small city and small town.
Six years later, I have been very happily living in Litchfield (population 6500 or so) for two years. And what I would have once called a very small town I now believe to be a pretty big town. Which, for our part of the world, it is! If you have three schools, a grocery store, a movie theater, restaurants, and a Wal-Mart, you are a living in a Big Town.
I love living in big Litchfield, and I love exploring all the smaller (and bigger) towns around it. This new feature, Minnesota Nice, will be my chance to share these great big and little towns with you, dear readers.
Mike recently did some work for a church in Dassel, and since we have one car, I recently drove to and from Dassel several times a week. It’s a town of about 1000 people eleven miles east of Litch, and I hadn’t explored it at all until I found myself driving through downtown so often. Well, guess what? Dassel is delightful!
It has a great farmer’s market on Friday afternoons. It has a wonderful vintage / antique / artsy craftsy / home decor store called The Little Red Hen (tantalizingly open only one weekend a month). It has a coffee shop called Latte Da, which you would expect to be a chintz-filled ladies’ place but is actually a casual, low-key place where they have coloring books, crayons, and delicious grilled cheese.
And, it has this place:
Isn’t that a cute sign? Inside is a no-frills bakery with delicious sandwich bread, so-so coffee, and the most delicious donuts this side of Atwater (another town, another post). Since Litchfield, tragically, is without a bakery, it is really a treat to stop in here for donuts. Um, I mean for whole wheat bread. (In fact, they have both: it’s a win-win!)
Dassel is also home to Red Rooster Days, a summer festival that distinguishes itself with what people assure me is a delicious chicken dinner. Mike ate one for the Cumings family while Zoe and I did the pony rides and the inflatables.
Another win-win. Thanks, Dassel!