Why Christopher Ingraham wants to be one of us

Christopher Ingraham, the Washington Post reporter who gladdened the hearts of Minnesotans by wanting to become one of us, is back with a more complete explanation of why he’s giving up life in the big city of Washington to move to Red Lake County, a county he once wrote was the ugliest county in the United States.

In a post this morning on his Washington Post Wonkblog, Ingraham, who apologized for his original column and then was personally introduced to the beauty of the county last year, offers a little more explanation into the decision, which I wrote about over the weekend.

He says he just couldn’t stop thinking about Red Lake County.

People who’d shown kindnesses small and large — from a friendly handshake at the bar to an entire cake baked and decorated with cartographic precision as a map of the county — to a stranger who they only knew from a line of snark he’d tossed into a news story.

I kept dreaming about big skies. Broad rivers. Flat roads running to the horizon and towns that smelled of wood and grain and dry prairie air.

The I-95 corridor was starting to lose its charm, he writes. He spends more than 15 hours a week commuting; that’s something he won’t have to worry about in Red Lake County, where he’ll be able to work from home.

He says he should be able to buy a bigger house with more land in northwest Minnesota.

It doesn’t appear he’s going into this blindly. He acknowledges asking the same question most metro Minnesotans even ask when visiting other parts of the state.

If you live in a major metro area, you’ve probably had the experience of driving through the country on the way to the beach, or to visit relatives in other states, wondering, “what do these people do for a living out here?” Were we capable of shipping off to Minnesota and becoming one of those families ourselves?

Many people I’ve discussed the move with tell me how it sounds like a lot of fun, but they can’t imagine living without all the amenities of a city — the culture, the restaurants, the general bustle and abundance of things to do. But with a 15-hour commute, these things have generally been an abstraction to me — activities other people did that I didn’t have time for.

Then, the weather. It’s cold up there in the winter, sure. But we’re from upstate New York! We know from cold. I’m itching to experience a proper winter after years of living in the mid-Atlantic, where the season typically brings three months of 40-degree drizzle and an abundance of mud.

But he says the tools of his trade are a phone line and “a good Internet connection.” That’s a potential problem although there are several broadband providers in the area.

He’ll still be able to rub elbows with Washington bigshots. Sen. Al Franken, for example, is already looking for a vote.

Ingraham says he hopes he can make a difference, too, by providing a Minnesota perspective to his national column.

That could be the most important part of his decision to live the good life in Minnesota.