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  • You Can’t Beat The Locals At Their Own Game – Or Can You?

    Having lived in a number of different places in my life it is a truism that you cannot beat the locals at their own game. Locals have the upper hand most of the time. They know the ins and outs of life in the community, carry the cultural memories/traditions and seldom forget that which is important. Newcomers are at a serious disadvantage because we cannot fathom yet alone quickly identify the essence of community dynamics or history.

    For instance, take the weather. When we lived in Northern Wisconsin, the daily forecasts came via TV from Duluth Minnesota [right next to Superior Wisconsin] which is around 70 miles away. It quickly became obvious that Lake Superior created, or greatly influenced, weather patterns in such a way that the Duluth forecasts were mostly way off of the mark. So, what to do?

    Watch the locals and learn from them. Sometimes it was obvious; when virtually all of the stores in downtown Ashland were still closed at 10:30 a.m. in the morning you just knew that it was going to be a great summer day in a place where really good weather is rare. But, you could get some business done if you went to Long Lake, although not Lake Superior, which is usually too cold. A significant segment of the town would be in the picnic area or clinging to a narrow strip of sand dominated by rocks called a beach front. Soooo, for instance you might ask Howard [paint store] if he would come to the house with some paint samples to see what would look best in the living room, ask Marvin if he would order some lamb [not routinely stocked in the supermarket] and maybe make an appointment with Dr. Fred our dentist.

    But the best locals watch came in the winter. I could never determine if a snowstorm was about to hit as accurately as the locals. Sure, a wind shift to the northeast would mean weather from the Hudson’s Bay region would sweep over Lake Superior and dump snow on us. That was a no brainer. That said, the most reliable way to keep track of an impending bad snowstorm heading our way was to watch the local liquor store. If you saw locals going in and out more often than usual you knew that it was time to stock up, batten down the hatches and enjoy a lulu of a storm. While certainly not scientific reality, I would posit that there was a minimum .95 accuracy result for using the liquor store to predict snow storms. To hell with the weather forecast coming out of Duluth – we had the Ashland Liquor store.
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