I'm back again so soon! How's that for making good on a resolution? The past week has been one of those unpleasant ones here in Minneapolis, with temps down around and way below zero. The time of year when the natives scratch their snow-covered noggins and ask themselves why they live here. But I won't dwell on the negative. I just returned from making my circuit of the island, in search of truth, beauty, adventure and intrigue. And, of course, some good old-fashioned exercise.
I stepped out my door to confront a winter wonderland: I knew today was supposed to get up to 30 degrees or higher (welcome news!), but hadn't known that snow was a possibility. It was really falling and a couple inches had piled up already, but it was as pretty and scenic as the inside of a snow globe. So away I went!
The first observation that gave me pause was this duck-filled vista as I neared the falls. As I drew nearer to the river for a better shot, many of them took flight, and if you click on the photo to enlarge and look closely, you can see the airborne ones. Of course, seeing ducks on and near the island is nothing terribly noteworthy, but usually you don't run across this many at a time.
Next to arrest my footsteps was this fellow, whom I could have sworn I'd seen somewhere before. Ah yes, wasn't he in the old sci-fi flick, Star Wars? But I think in the movie he was shinier and more colorful and made a lot of funny electronic sounds. His helmet bears a resemblance to my own head upon arriving home from my stroll, but more on that later (unless you're going to cheat and scroll to the bottom right now). I must say that I behold beauty in this humble receptacle, as perhaps many others may not. I suppose it's the contrast of light and dark, the fundamental property of every work of art. Without light, there is no darkness, and vice versa. In fact, without light, we cannot see a drawing or painting, but only as light is added, and then shaded, do the images emerge, et voila: Art.
I couldn't resist snapping one of this scene, from the same position as the one taken in my last blog entry—jump back and check it out: the needles of this pine were sharp and bare, feathering my view of the river and bridge beyond—now the needles themselves are feathered with the fluffy white stuff. It's pleasing to observe the changes wrought by Nature upon nature—much as we ourselves undergo changes imposed by Nature, for others to observe each time they see us anew after an interval has passed.
As I began nearing what I shall call the settlement where I live, I came upon this scene of men-at-work, comprising a number of vehicles and no less than five workers, prompting me to recall an email sent earlier in the day from one of my neighbors. The email was not sent to me alone, but to all residents of the island (or rather, to those who have supplied an email address). You see, the residents of this settlement in which I live, this small and insular community (insular only in the sense that we all live on an island) communicate to one another when appropriate on matters that may concern us all. In this instance, someone had sent an email saying that while outdoors she had detected an odor of gas. One communication led to another, and soon the gas company were on site digging a hole in the street and another directly in front of one of the houses on East Island Ave.
One of the neighbors later provided a complete detailed explanation of what had happened, apparently a freak occurrence, which the gas company workers said they would probably be unlikely ever to encounter again. Evidently, 25 years ago a plastic gas pipe had been run through the previously existing metal pipe, to avoid having to dig up the whole front yard to install a new metal pipe. It seems that the metal pipe broke, likely due to the freezing temperatures of late, cutting into the plastic pipe and allowing gas to escape. Fortunately, these workers were able to repair the problem and prevent potentially disastrous consequences.
One photo shows the hole they had to dig on the side of the street opposite the house, while the other shows the workers gathered around the deeper hole in front of the house, into which I watched one or two workers descend until they completely disappeared from sight. It was quite reassuring to know that my neighbors are vigilant and that they promptly communicate with one another when a threat or other matter of concern arises in our midst.
And this brings me back to where I started, except now I am covered with snow and eager to get indoors and warm up. It was a fine exhilarating walk, not too cold, and just enough snow to smile about. Any more snow than this and I would not be smiling, for there would then be the risk of the city declaring a Snow Emergency, which means that someone like me who lacks a garage and whose vehicle is currently out of commission (not starting, that is), would have to push his vehicle to the alternate side of the street—and then back again the day after! Sometimes it really does seem like when it snows, it pours!
Life flows on, in and around us—sometimes we must shovel it, other times repair it, and still other times harness its force and use it to push ourselves—or other people or objects—to a better place.