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Escaping winter-- if only for dinner

The cold months are in full swing now. A freeze has descended upon us that is so deep, so inhumanely intense, that it seems to bypass the body and wreak its damage directly on the soul.

It's months like these that make me look at my fellow Minnesotans, the suffering innocents, and wonder if we're all paying the price for some horrible sins in an earlier life.

Even my car's cassette player has been affected by all this below-zero nonsense. For the first painful few minutes of every car ride, when there's still a layer of frost on the dashboard and the heater's blowing snow, my tapes play at such jangled, wildly fluctuating speeds that it takes only seconds for my music to go from sounding like an Alvin and the Chipmunks version of "Rainy Day Women No. 13 & 35", to a haunting psychedelic nightmare.

In these difficult times, it is imperative that we occasionally distract ourselves from the reality at hand. Granted, too many trips to alternate worlds -- no matter how pleasant they may be -- are not a good thing, but there's no harm in an occasional respite from this cold rock we call home. If anyone deserves a little break, it's us.

And there's nothing -- well almost nothing -- that will take you there like the DLHS Madrigal Dinner, a five-course dining extravaganza that will warm your soul with three hours of entertainment, food and camaraderie. Is it a play? A play within a play? A feast? A renaissance festival?

No one knows...and really, why should anyone care? It's a good time. That's all that matters.

At this point, writing a column about the Madrigal Dinner seems a bit unnecessary, or at least untimely...a week ago, there were only four unsold tickets. At this point, I doubt any remain for the final Dinner tomorrow.

Thus, it's not as if I need to try to draw in the crowds, or even that any people can go beyond those that have already bought their tickets. My goal isn't to promote the Madrigal feast as much as to gain some understanding of it.

After all, what is more random than a Renaissance-England-themed five-course meal in Northern Minnesota, which was still a snow-covered wasteland (arguably, what it should have stayed) when the jousts and dragon slaying and that whole scene was going on?

Why don't we do a Viking-themed Dinner, or a Nordic Feast, or something along those lines? Something that celebrates our culture? Why England? I mean, couldn't they have at least picked something American, something to stir up some of that good old-fashioned patriotic zeal?

But as I continue to think about it (and believe me, I've thought about this quite a lot), Renaissance England is starting to make a lot of sense. You see transporting the audience to merely pleasant or exciting times and places in history is not enough when it's the Minnesota winter you're trying to shake loose from the audience's mind.

It takes dragons and big swords, and a jester, and a jar of wassail, which is so huge and holds such a prominent place in the Royal Court, that one wonders who the king really is.

So when the Madrigal Dinner rolls around two years from now, don't hesitate. For a few short hours, trade Minnesota for a wonderful place that normally exists only within your imagination: where the steeds are noble, the dames are fair, and your leaders are always looking out for you.

Buy the ticket, take the ride. You deserve it.

Nathan Kitzmann is a junior at Detroit Lakes High School.