Archive | August 2015

To Walk Along the Jagged Rocks

“Let’s run over to Itasca before they get here,” my son-in-law Michael said. The four of us grabbed what we needed and went to the car. Michael drove while Laura, Matt and I watched the scenery go by. As we bumped along the highway, we listened to some old tunes back from when I was growing up, and no one wanted to change the station!

The day was just like the others since the four of us got there. It felt a little warm even though the sun wasn’t shining down on us. The smoke from the fires in Canada floated to northern Minnesota making the sky hazy. Some could smell the smoke, and I felt like I got a whiff once in a while, but I think that might have been my imagination. We sort of enjoyed the blanket of protection from what would have been a steamy summer day.

“This is the road I took to get here,” said Matt. “I think I went around the lake the other way.”

“Ya, this is the way you should go home,” we chimed in together. I thought about how our family get together was a hodgepodge of an event. Laura, Michael and I arrived at the resort on Wednesday night, Matt drove in on Thursday morning, and the rest of us were waiting for Dad and Katie to arrive that afternoon.

“I think I’ve been here before a long time ago with my family when I was growing up,” I said. When we entered the state park, trees towered high above us. Pristine lakes with names of women poked out to show us not only trees grow there. We only saw a few of the 100 lakes during our short stay.

After parking, we headed toward the path, and the Headwaters – Caretaker Woman greeted us:

We read the sign above to learn that the woman is “releasing a clutch of small turtles from a basket, renewing the seasons and continuing the waters of life.  Her flowing hair is like that of flowing water.  The turtles, strong water symbols, also symbolize the universal cycles of life in Anishinabe (Ojibwe) belief.”  Then I understood why all the lakes are named after women.  Click on the picture of the sign to learn more!

A few more steps down the road, we found the spot where the mighty Mississippi starts its winding journey 2,552 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. It’s traditional for visitors to walk over the jagged rocks just to say you crossed the spot where the Mississippi River begins, but for some reason we didn’t even think to make that little journey. Funny that we traveled so far and didn’t do what everyone else does when they get there. That doesn’t mean we didn’t enjoy the view.

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We continued to walk down a path along Lake Itasca. Just as we were on our way back to the parking lot, the phone rang. Katie let us know they were waiting for us at the cabin. We left just as quickly as we arrived anxious to all be together again.

Maybe another time we’ll all get to walk along the jagged rocks together.

The family is one of nature’s masterpieces. ~George Santayana

 

It Helps Us to Say Thanks, Part III

Two years ago, I posted a blog about my poem that my brothers and I agreed to have engraved on the memorial paver at Como Zoo and Conservatory in honor of our parents. About a year ago, the paver was installed, but it took me this long to get over to take a look. The reason it took so long for the installation was because the weather conditions were not ideal – the ground was too soggy from rainy days. The reason it took me so long to get over to take a look is another story – other plans kept getting in the way.

Finally, that nudging feeling to go pay a visit won the battle against my procrastination.  The day my son and I visited, the weather was similar to when I visited during It Helps Us to Say Thanks, Part I. It was so warm, the animals sat close to the walls of cool buildings whether they were inside or out making it difficult for us to see them.

The brick looks very nice and is settled amongst other memorial bricks.  The shade from the trees gave the paver a shadowy look.

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After we visited some of the animals, we went to The Ordway Gardens which is a recent $2.8 million addition to the conservatory. We looked at the indoor gallery of bonsai trees, and I couldn’t help but take these pictures along the outdoor path:

I wonder if the sign above says “thanks” in Japanese.

The new Japanese garden is the only place in Minnesota that has a top-curated Japanese plant collection. It was if we were carried away to another place.

Even though Mom and Dad wouldn’t have wanted us to make such a fuss with the paver, I’m glad we took a long time to say thanks.  😉  Visiting Como was one of my parents’ favorite things to do so it’s nice to see the place continue to grow and improve.

Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.  ~G.B. Stern

 

 

 

Our “Fruits” of Summer!

It seems that Minnesotans try to cram as much fun as we can into the summer months. When our days are blessed with sun and greenery dotted with beautiful flowers of every color in the rainbow, sometimes we think back to the cold winter like it was some sort of nightmare. The changing seasons can be charming in their way, but we tend to act like little bees in our own gardens of life happily enjoying our “fruits” of summer.

Just a few things that were going on around the Twin Cities last weekend were the Art Fair in Uptown Minneapolis, the Irish Fair in St. Paul, and the Polish Festival in Minneapolis. My husband and I visited the Polish Festival around 3:30 in the afternoon on Saturday.  We were greeted by a group of very friendly people and a sign asking for donations so the Polish Festival could remain a free event. After giving our donation, we received a red sticker that said, “I Support the Polish Festival!”

The festival was set up between Old Main Street by St. Anthony Main and the Mississippi River. Tents bordered both sides and at each end there was a stage. All the tents were different.  One tent had information about a Polish school and another was filled with Polish sheep dogs.  Vendors sold decorative boxes, ornaments, honey, t-shirts, and trinkets. Food and beer could be purchased too.  Because it was a warm day, we decided to try a Polish beer – Zywiec – and sat on a bench by the river and watched people pass by.  There were visitors of all ages in attendance.

Polish food is delicious!  We shared a dinner of Polish sausage, pierogies (dumplings stuffed with potato filling), and potato pancakes, and we couldn’t pass up the gotobki (cabbage rolls) or the poczki (raspberry filled pastries).  We weren’t counting carbs that day.  🙂

Children performed a play in Polish on one stage and at the other, a polka band played under the bridge.  Dancers’ polka steps were varied and impressive, and I wondered who would earn the ribbon to win the contest.  We noticed that the vodka tasting was a big draw since it was sold out.  That was okay, because after eating that variety of food, one beer was enough for us.

As we left, more people entered, and we guessed it was because it was dinner time.  We enjoyed talking with some of the friendly folks, learning new things about the culture, the good food, and entertainment.  If you didn’t get to attend this event, you can always add it to your list of “fruits of summer” to enjoy next year!