Nathan and I had a little vacation this past weekend. Friday night we drove four hours north to visit my middle sister Anne, where she is going to graduate school at Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota.
Here's the thing about this: Anne has been at Winona State for six years now, four as an undergrad and two as a grad student. For three of those years, she was joined by Elizabeth, who transferred to Winona during her sophomore year of undergrad.
Now, Elizabeth is in Alton and this May, Anne will graduate with her master's in teaching English as a foreign language and it will be "Farewell, Winona" for the whole family. As we spent time there this weekend, I started to feel sad and nostalgic about the place. Granted, I have been there maybe three times in the six years the girls have been there. But I've always liked it, as a place. When we went there when Anne was trying to decide where she wanted to go in 2004, I noticed how pleasant and "small-towney" it felt.
The university is not huge and the town surrounding it spreads out for quite a ways and still feels like a friendly area.
And it is replete with interesting places: the Winona Sandwich Company has the best bread this side of Jimmy John's. Last weekend I went with Anne to the co-op she goes to to get oats and other things for her made-from-scratch pumpkin pies. I had never been in a co-op--it was a nice store. The town sits on the Mississippi River and is bordered on one side by a long range of bluffs, which provide ample hiking. But it also has all the things a college town needs, including a Wal-Mart, Target and many restaurants.
I may not have been there quite often enough, considering it's where my sisters were spending their time. But when Anne moves on to the next phase in her life, I think I'll miss Winona a only a little less than she will