TR (ANNC): HOW I CAME TO APPRECIATE WINTER. A prize-winning essay by youthful broadcaster Buddy Asperger.


GK: I grew up in a very bleak town where the movie theater had been crushed by snow (CRUNCHING, CRASHING) and the pool hall burned down when the men's room exploded one night. (BOOM AND FIRE EXPLOSION and the main recreation for boys was chasing chickens (CHICKEN FLURRY) and shooting the insulators off telephone poles (GUNSHOT, BWANG. GUNSHOT, CRUNCH). So the phones didn't work either. The winters were brutal and the summers were too and the food was inedible, and the church was no comfort to us. We belonged to The Will of God Church, that believed that wherever you are, that's where you're supposed to be so stay put and don't ask questions. And then one day a Unitarian evangelist came to town----

TR (SOUTHERN EVANGELIST): Our God is a loving God who condemns nobody, people and there is a spark of divinity in every human being. Reason! Tolerance! Freedom! I believe that all of us have a deep need for connection! That's what it's all about. And also the Hokey Pokey. Tonight may be your last opportunity to find that connection you have been yearning for, people! Join us. Come forward and dedicate yourself to our fellowship of skepticism. There is definitely a U in Unitarian.

GK: And I was converted and I accepted the spirit of love and I moved to Minneapolis and joined First United Unitarian and I got in a singing group called the UniTones and we sang in church on Sundays.


Goodness is what we're all about

Whatever that may be,

We are united and we're proud

To always disagree.

In great diversity, we pray.

And thus united stand

And we shall overcome someday

For this land is our land.

GK: I loved Unitarianism. I really blossomed there. The food was good and the theology mainly consisted of hope. And we didn't only sing spiritual songs--- we sang about warmth.

It was very popular on our Unitarian gospel tours out to northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.



We're leaving Minnesota,

And going to Sarasota,

To lie on the beach, with a Coke and a bowl of ice cream.

No ice and no snow,

No twenty below,

Life is beautiful, when you're living a dream

We'll make our home on Key Largo,

So much nicer than Fargo,

There is no sadness there, and the sun is supreme

We will lie in the sand

With a drink in our hand,

Life is beautiful, when you're living a dream.

SS (MN): Boy O boy, you kids sure can sing. Don't you think so, Wayne?

TR (MN): That's for sure. We were raised Lutheran but no more. I tell you, it's Unitarian for me from now on.

SS (MN): That goes double for me. Sick of snow shoveling. We're gonna sell the house and move to Florida. (STING)

GK: People seemed to make a connection between Unitarianism and warm weather. Sheila in the Unitones did----

EM: We need to bring hope to people out here on the frozen tundra. The solution to their problems is not theological.

GK: No?

EM: It's geographical. They need to get out and move south to the Promised Land.

GK: But I thought we were about love and tolerance and the spark of divinity within each human being. I thought we were about Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Thoreau.

AO: People feel that spark of divinity a lot better in warm weather, Buddy. You'll see. We've got three first-class seats on a flight to Tampa first week of March.

GK: But we're evangelists-----

AO: A warm climate is a hotbed of humanism. That's why the Lutherans are mostly up north. You move em down south and they get all warm and happy and forget all about the Trinity and redemption from sin.

GK: I just don't know about this.



In St. Paul the temperature falls

It's grim and bleak, there is no green,

It's twenty below and it's time to go

To a beach in the Caribbean.


Oh I'm glad to say,

I'm going away,

Goodbye Duluth, and Cloquet.

I'm going to reach

A long white beach

And tall palm trees and there I'll stay.

GK: We finished our tour in North Dakota and I was heading home to St. Paul when my car skidded on an icy road and I hit a tree straight on, going eighty miles an hour. (DISTANT SIREN) Only three curves on that whole road and only one with a tree near it, so I guess it was God's will, all right.


TR: Looks bad, Jim.

FN: Should we start an IV?

TR: I don't think so. He's a goner.

GK: I'm not. Really. Put in the IV.

TR: He's not breathing. I don't get a pulse.

GK: I'm alive.

FN: Yeah, he doesn't look good.

GK: I've never looked good, but I'm alive. Believe me. Don't give up. Put the paddles on my chest. Give me oxygen.

TR: Pull the sheet up over his head.

FN: That's weird, his eyes staring up at us.

TR: Close his eyelids.

FN: It's almost like he's trying to tell us something.

GK: I am. I'm alive. Don't give up. I'm trying to breathe. Help me. (REVERB) Help me. Help. I want to live. I want to live.

SS: Hi there, welcome to heaven.

GK: Who are you?

SS: I'm God.

GK: Really?

(THUNDER, LIGHTNING) I guess you are. A woman God?

SS: God has no gender. God is God. God is mystery.

GK: But there's a mister in mystery, so we thought----

SS: You were wrong.

GK: How did I wind up here? I wasn't a very good person.

SS: Your mother was and she prayed for you and I heard her prayer and here you are.

TR (REAGAN): That's how I got in, too. I wasn't good, not really, never had a good grasp of economics, I can see that now, but my mama got me in here, so here I am.

TR (MR ROGERS): Hi there. Welcome to the neighborhood. I like you just the way you are, but God doesn't. No, she doesn't. But you got in anyway. That's what we call Grace. Yes, it is.

GK: Am I imagining this?

SS: Are you what?

GK: Imagining this. Is this just a dream? (THUNDER,

LIGHTNING) Okay. I get the point.


GK: Johann Sebastian Bach?

TR: Jahwohl?

GK: Sprechen sie English?

TR (GERMAN): A little bit. (GERMAN)

GK: So this really is heaven?

TR (GERMAN): Well, it ain't Dresden, that's for sure. Dresden! (GERMAN CURSING)

GK: So you weren't happy there----

TR (GERMAN): You ever have 23 kids, huh? You ever work in the Lutheran church. Take it from me, it's no picnic. The pay is lousy and the management is ----- (GERMAN CURSING) (BRIDGE)

GK: It was very nice in heaven, pretty much like I'd imagined, warm, sunny, beautiful, blissful of course, but it was hard to tell time in that eternity situation, there was no night, and nobody slept, and the constant praising ---- (EM, AO SING, OFF, A LONG STRING OF HALLELUIAS) ---- nonstop praising by angelic beings ---- it started to get old , frankly, and a person just sort of longed for something different, like leaves turning and a little snowfall, and I asked God, "How long is this going to continue like this?" And she just smiled. Eternity. It's hard to wrap your mind around it. So one day I was walking around the various mansions and saw a golden manhole in the street of gold and I lifted it up and (BIG WHOOSH, SUCKING) I was sucked right through and I fell (FALLING) toward a faint blueish planet far away and dropped down and I could see North America and then (WHOOSH OF JET) a plane went by and a flock of geese (FLOCK OF GEESE GO BY) and I landed in a snowbank (SFX) next to a frozen lake and I saw naked people rolling around in the snow (CRIES OFF) and then they ran and got into a little house with smoke coming out the chimney and I ran in there too. (STEAM) I couldn't see anything. It was all steamy, but two of the women--- It was sort of amazing.


Well, we felt like seventeen

As we sat in the steam

And it got so hot we had to get some air

We ran out and rolled in a snowbank OOOOOOOO

And I saw her (him) naked there.

GK: It wasn't like heaven, but it wasn't bad. So I'm sticking with it. You don't really appreciate winter until you lose it. All I can say is: drive carefully. Even in North Dakota.


And my heart went boom in that tiny room

And I felt their skin on meeeeeeeeeeeee.

Winter's more than survival,

It's really revival,

And you need the cold to save you from despair

We ran out and rolled in a snowbank OOOOOOO

And I saw her (him) naked there.