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Prime Time | June through August: Nowhere but Minnesota

Years ago, in my previous life as an employed person in St. Paul, I was urged one June to attend a conference in a far-away city.

At the conference, I'd meet my professional contemporaries, be inspired by hotshot speakers and participate in break-out sessions that would send me home wiser and more prepared to do my job.

All expenses paid: The plane flight, the taxi zooming in to a downtown hotel, the check-in at a marble counter with the handsome young man smiling a welcome.

I'd take a mirrored elevator up to my room with the wide bed, the decorator-coordinated bedspread and wallpaper, the glowing bathroom with its little bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body lotion, and oh, those thick white towels.

But I declined.

"I never leave Minnesota in June, July and August," I explained.

My boss was surprised, but I advanced professionally anyway.

Of course, it was a much smaller company, and compared to today's salaries, I worked cheap.

Could I have been so wise in my younger years? I guess so. After we moved Up North, I was even more firm in that policy. Jim and I traveled a good deal, but always on the "shoulder seasons": Budapest in October. Hong Kong in March. Late one September, we shut down the tourist attractions of Ireland, and another September it was a blustery Prince Edward Island. I've told our daughters that we spent their inheritance traveling. And I'm glad that we did.

And now, in this green summer of 2012, I'm even more convinced of the wisdom of staying right here. OK, Paul Bunyan Communications - I apologize for stealing your "right here" slogan, but it is so admirable.

My garden is flourishing. Rhubarb is already frozen for the cold winter ahead. I feast on lettuce and look forward to cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes and zucchini. What was I thinking when I planted that abundant vegetable? We all know about zucchini.

These are days for dock-sitting -- wearing a hat, of course, against the sun that we've learned is not good for our skin. These are the days to accept an invitation to go on a pontoon ride, down the river to town. The divine decorator has placed cattails all along the way, and I envy the people who live along the river and whose homes surround the lakes we travel through. But just a bit of envy. My house overlooks a pond where there are no jet skis, no motor boats, no water skiers -- just a pair of loons. Some years, traveling trumpeter swans stop by for a few weeks before flying off somewhere.

I leave the windows open so the house cools down at night. And night does come, but twilight lingers long and the sun sinks oh so slowly across the pond.

The guys on the radio say, "Another beautiful day in paradise."

Sometimes, when the temperature plunges way below zero, or on the 20th cloudy day in a row, they're dead wrong. But many days this summer of 2012, they're oh so right.

Okay, I know you're loading the car for the trip with the grandkids to the Black Hills. Or you've brought out your passport and made reservations on Delta, to fly off, even as I might have so many years ago.

But for now, my policy holds. I never leave northern Minnesota in June, July or August.