Shaped Like a Mitten? Consider Me Smitten!

I was clearing out old LinkedIn messages recently and came across one from a former coworker named Jason. He reached out to me last February because he was considering a cross-country move and knew I embodied that whole “rolling stone gathers no moss” mentality.

During the course of our conversation, he asked, Do you have any thoughts on Wisconsin?

To which I replied, Wisconsin? Sign me up! We stayed in Madison one night on the return leg of our road trip and really liked that town. Wisconsin is surprisingly scenic. I’ve joked to Tara that we should move to Madison next. We won’t…but if for some reason we ever did relocate again, that would be high on our list.

A little more than six months later, we’d quit our jobs, sold our house, and were about to hit the road for Wisconsin. Life sure is funny, huh?

I’ve always had strong opinions about places I’d consider living. Most people concentrate on factors like cost of living, job market, housing, crime rate, that sort of thing. Those are important, sure…but what’s the cheese situation like?

OK, fine. Cheddar never figured into the equation. But I do tend to focus on other less-common intangibles.

Case in point: I refuse to live in any city that starts with either Los or Las. I don’t much care for anything beginning with San, either. Been there, done that, couldn’t wait to leave. And just to prove that I’m not totally caught up on words, letters matter, too. States that end with the letter n are an automatic yes, while those that end in i fall under the Hell, No category.

Compass directions are trickier but still carry weight. South Dakota was a yes and North Dakota a no, but if I had to choose a Carolina, I’d do North over South. And while the phrase Go West, young man was a rallying cry in the 1800s, I’d pick Regular Virginia over West Virginia. Probably ‘cuz I’m not a coal miner.

Contours matters, too. I find rectangles and whimsical shapes most appealing. Roundish Ohio and mitten-shaped Wisconsin and Michigan are too dang cute to dislike, especially if you’re lucky enough to snag a home on the thumb! Believe it or not, there’s an ongoing rivalry over which state is more mitten-like.

Then there’s New Jersey. The poor thing looks like it’s doubled over in pain after getting punched in the stomach — rather appropriate given that it’s kind of a punching bag for the rest of the U.S. — but I would (and have) live(d) there. I gravitate toward states that begin with New, anyway…at least ones without deserts. I don’t think I could live in a state with a panhandle, but if I lived in Idaho, I’d only want to live in the panhandle.

I also like Minnesota because it’s got a little chimney that contains the “Northwest Angle,” which by all rights should belong to Canada. This part of the state never even touches the rest of Minnesota; it’s separated by a lake and the only land it borders is Manitoba. It feels like a blatant land grab, and I can’t help but admire that kind of chutzpah (even if we did fleece the otherwise lovely Canadians).

I’m not the only one who spends this much time obsessing over geography, right?

63 thoughts on “Shaped Like a Mitten? Consider Me Smitten!

  1. Okay – the geography thing is interesting but I’m still amazed that you clean out your LInkedIn messages. Geez, I need to do that. Amazing what 6 months will do.

    And I never thought about the northwest angle of Minnesota nor that Wisconsin and Michigan were vying over mitten shape status. Oh, the things I’ve learned here tonight. Thanks, Mark!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. To be fair, I hadn’t looked at my LinkedIn inbox in a long time. Most of it was complete junk. But that exchange with Jason was pretty interesting!

      Up until today, I’d never even heard of the Northwest Angle. I read during COVID that, because Canada closed its border with the U.S., Minnesota started up a ferry to get people to and from that area. Ticket prices were NOT cheap, but what choice did people have? The only other way to get there without going through a border is to walk across the lake when it’s frozen.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As well as Wordle, I also play Worldle and Statele which have made me much more aware of geography and of the shapes of various places. Some of them are completely bizarre. As my older daughter with a PhD in geography tells me, “Borders are artificial constructs.” Still…why are some states and countries so oddly shaped?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s been 34 years since we debated where to move. Honestly, we only cared about the $ signs, not the geography. If we were to ever move, it would only be to a warmer climate. I’m over grey days and snow.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. For me water matters. I need to be by at least a lake or river and putting in a pool doesn’t count! I prefer north to south, nc to sc, but both dakotas oddly. I’d love Minnesota but we ended up in ohio which is fine! Cleveland rocks!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I can’t even remember what we were discussing. But basically talking about this Indigenous community that is part of the US but only accessible from Canada and you have to go into Canada to get there. And it’s the Northwest Angle. But we have the good falls in Niagara so you can keep NW Angle. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I need to live near hills or mountains. If it’s flat, forget it. Spouse needs to live near water, but absolutely refuses to own a house with a pool.

    I would love to live somewhere with seasons again. But that would mean bugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It never fails when discussing a possible move elsewhere we land on the fact when it comes down to it we’re already in a great place if having four seasons without excessive weather issues is a priority. And it is. Not keen on wildfires, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc. The Northwest Angle is an interesting geographical entity. Never heard of it until now. The “mitten rivalry” doesn’t appear to have an easy resolution.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. So what do you have against *i* states? I think there’s only 3 right? Hawaii has it’s volcanoes, Mississippi had Elvis and the blues, and Missouri has the Ozarks- none of those draw you in to settling down?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was born in Hawaii and lived there, off and on, for 9 years. I’m not a fan of tropical weather. Mississippi is too Deep South for me, and Missouri? Well, maybe…but it wouldn’t be high on my list.

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  8. I see absolutely nothing wrong with judging future home states on the quality of their cheese. That being said I was born in the gut punched Jersey and spent 17 in the Northern Carolina. But I returned to Maine, which doesn’t look like a kitten… but we have all the lobster so it’s a fair trade.
    🦞

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Both my parents and my brother were born in Trenton, and the majority of my family still resides in New Jersey. I have many fond memories of Jersey corn, tomato pies, and summer days down on the boardwalk. Plus, it’s Bruce’s home state. There’s way too much to like there!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Okay, now that I look at it, Michigan looks more like a mitten. However, this is only due to the thumb.
    I prefer Wisconsin’s thumb, however, because it is Door County, where I became engaged to my husband. Who thought I’d be spilling my guts in a comment section about state shapes, which are, as Margaret’s daughter put it, “artificial constructs.” 😊

    Also, I didn’t know there was a game called Statele.

    Also, also, I obsess over things like this too. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Call me biased, but I think Wisconsin’s mitten is much more…well, mitteny…than Michigan’s mitten! Plus, Michigan is pulling a Northwest Angle on us by claiming the Upper Peninsula. Look at the map. The UP touches Wisconsin, not Michigan! I feel robbed.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Just forwarded this to Hubby to point out that NW angle bit. He’s from MN, yet I never heard about this. How bizarre to live there and be Minnesotan rather than Canadian. I bet most of those people work in Canada. And, I’m sorry, but I think I need to give it to MI on the mitten war judging by the maps. Maybe I just haven’t met as many people from WI, but you can tell a Michigander at a distance b/c they’re always holding up a hand and pointing to where they live with the other hand. I’ve never seen a … what is it? … Sconie? do that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Earlier today, I stumbled across an IG account named Mittigan. They REALLY take this whole thing seriously, don’t they? Hell, if it bothers them that much, I’ll let ’em victory in the Mitten Wars. We Sconnies are humble folk. We don’t tell people that even though Minnesota is famously the Land of 10,000 Lakes, we’ve got over 15,000!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, according to my husband, MN has way more than 10K also. So just, you know, keep that in mind before you go braggin’ too much. 😉

        I’ve heard stories of people relocating and the locals not taking too kindly to outsiders. Apparently that’s never been your experience? You land in more welcoming places?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh, it’s most definitely been my experience! People in the PNW hate Californians, to the point where newcomers try to switch out their license plates before arriving. I can vouch personally that this is very much the case. Luckily, I had a new car when we moved to Oregon, and there weren’t any plates yet.

        Every other place I’ve lived has been totally welcoming.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Well, I guess that makes sense. Hubby and I have lamented that our children are Californians, and that’s all they know. We’re both Midwesterners, so it’s weird to us. They don’t understand how most of the country live. (What? It gets cold? What? You can’t get to the beach in 15 minutes?) Fortunately, they’ve expressed an interest in living somewhere colder, so they may escape yet.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Both of us, separately, knew someone who said, “Hey, here’s a job you can have when you leave college!” We wound up working at a school together. His brother was teaching there. My college boss was friends with the founder of the school. Strange world. I never wanted to be a Californian, and yet I have now been living here longer than I lived in Ohio. The tipping point happened this past August. Weird.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. We re-evaluate that every now and then. He still has the job at the school he first got 20-something years ago. He’s now the VP. If something pushes us out, like cost of living, or he gets fired, or the school shuts down, good chance we’ll cut an run. We’ve become accustomed to the nice weather, though, so we don’t intend to move back to the frigid north. We’ve fully become weather wusses, I’m afraid. Sorry, but it’s just nice here. Plus, our orange tree!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Frankly, I think it’s straining credibility to say Wisconsin’s mitten shaped but maybe I’m biased as a native Michigander, haha. Great essay, what a riot! Although, are you sure you wouldn’t live in Hawaii?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. that’s too funny! Started following you recently but haven’t delved deep enough to have picked up on that piece of info. But again, loved this piece, the geography nerd in me was alternately in agreement and outraged with some of your observations, lol

        Liked by 1 person

  12. OMG! You are so darn funny! I love this and your rationale. I’ve often thought about living somewhere else, but goodness, it’s such a gamble when I like where I am. And thankfully, that’s not in the panhandle. 😳

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Despite mostly growing up in MN I never thought of that pointy thing as NW Angle, I always thought of it as Lake of the Woods and didn’t give much thought to the solid parts. Never made it up there.

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  14. So you’ve got me thinking about which states end with what letters. I see that only 3 end with N and I know you were eager to leave the region that contains 2 of them. I can get behind the “No final i states” but for Hawaii. I’d be willing to giving Hawaii residency the old school try. If you say “no states that end in a vowel” you’d have very few choices indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OregoN, WashingtoN, WisconsiN, MichigaN. 🙂

      As for Hawaii, I’ve lived there long enough to never, ever want to set foot there again. Give me cold and snow any day! I’m fine with some states that end in “a”…like yours. And Alaska, but only Juneau.

      God, I’m picky…

      Like

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