Marcia and I are back home in Des Moines tonight after a wonderful week in Minneapolis and environs. It’s nearly 100° F here in Central Iowa with grotesque humidity levels, and is forecast to be so for the next week, making the inordinately nice weather we had in Minnesota over the past eight days all the more pleasurable in contrast. As noted in my prior post, we rented a really nice AirBnB in Minneapolis’ Kenwood area near Lake of the Isles, making it super easy and convenient to access a variety of great (carryout) restaurants along Hennepin Avenue, and also the glorious Grand Rounds network of trails surrounding the lakes at the heart of the city. The architecture in that area is stunning, and we were just a few houses down from the Purcell-Cutts House (a most fine example of the Prairie School), and just across the narrow lake neck from the Mary Tyler Moore House, made famous by her hit eponymous sitcom. There’s boodles of other fine specimens about, along with stunning gardens in great, full, peak bloom in most cases. Perfect!
Marcia and I circumambulated Lake Harriet, Bde Maka Ska (the Lake Formerly Known as Calhoun), Lake of the Isles, and Cedar Lake multiple times on foot without having to get in the car to get there, and we also kayaked on and between the latter three, which was wonderful. We did leave the neighborhood a few times for great walks around the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Lake Elmo Park Reserve, The Walker Art Center’s Sculpture Garden, and the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail. En route between Des Moines and the Twin Cities, we also did very nice walks at Myre-Big Island Park in Albert Lea and River Bend Nature Center in Faribault. My pedometer tells me that I walked 79 miles over the course of the week. That clearly justified all the ice cream, cookies, popcorn and pie that I ate while there, om nom nom!
After the Arboretum walk, we took a guided tour at Paisley Park, Prince’s nearby production studio and (in his final years) home. It was very cool to see, though sad to ponder how prematurely the Purple One left us, another undeserving victim of Big Pharma’s pusherman approach to opiate economics. Sigh. On the family front, we got to spend outdoor time with three of Marcia’s siblings and some nieces and nephews as well, and she had brunch with a pair of school friends at a legendary neighborhood restaurant, Curran’s, which is sadly closing and being razed soon, after over 70 years in business. We drove by Marcia’s nearby childhood home and schools, along with the church where we were married in 1989, and also went out to Fort Snelling National Cemetery to leave flowers for and pay respects to her parents, who are buried there.
And also on the paying respects front, we visited the George Floyd Memorial Site at South 38th and Chicago, which was powerful and heartbreaking in equal measure. We could stand at the spot where George Floyd was murdered and see the bell-tower on that church where we were married, just some 10 blocks to the west, so there’s a small personal connection for our family in there, a proximity to places dear. The city has closed off the streets around the area to vehicle traffic, so it’s a growing walk-in shrine site at this point, with volunteers offering visitors donated masks and drinking water if needed, and with various places and ways to leave messages, thoughts, prayers and promises. Or just to walk and reflect and be in the moment and dream of a different future, as the spirit moves each visitor individually.
It is sad to ponder how a regular night on a regular street-corner in a regular neighborhood could go so awfully, tragically wrong. But it is profound to consider the ripples of outrage that have washed outward from this modest spot, in large part because these same sorts of tragedies have occurred so many other times in so many other places, just as needlessly, just as horribly, just as wrong. One whole city block just north of the murder site now has its pavement painted with more names than I could count of victims of similar racially-motivated institutional violence from across the country, encouraging visitors to say their names aloud as they walk among them, reading them like a mantra, honoring their memories, and mourning their absence, and the losses felt by their loved ones. Such killing needs to stop. So here’s hoping those waves of righteous resistance rolling out of South Minneapolis are powerful enough to wash away some of the stubborn structures of institutional racism in our nation, for the betterment of all of its people.
I’ve posted my usual trip album over at Flickr if you’re interested in seeing the images there, including all of the sites mentioned above. Click on the “Sunset Over Lake of the Isles” photo below to see the rest of the set. Marcia and I are both very glad we went North for a spell. And we’re grateful for the reminders that we are blessed indeed to be able to make a trip like this in a time when many families are struggling with illness, or financial duress, or social and racial inequities, or all of the above, and then some. We do not take that good fortune for granted. Ever.