Friday, October 21, 2016

I've Looked at Clouds (With Apologies to Joni Mitchell)

The Midwest sky is a place of constant movement. Perhaps due to the flatness of the prairie, steamrolled by glaciers eons ago, we see more of it than those that inhabit more undulating terrain. There is rarely a cloudless day. Almost always wisps of white drift overhead. The heat of a brutal summer sun about to be eased by a cool breeze from the north is foreshadowed by the floating markers which will shade the earth giving relief from the heat.

Sometime the clouds can be menacing. Dark cylinders roll up into an even darker plane above them. I have watched as storms moving over the lake create spouts. Cones of lake water swirl up and meet  the powerful darkness which permeates the sky.

 At sunset from our kitchen window the clouds add depth and color. The rays of the late afternoon sun break through them creating shafts of light which move cross the vista of an eclectic collection of modern and vintage highrises, church steeples and tree shaded streets lined with venerable four square homes. As the sun dips closer to the horizon the clouds light up in colors of red, yellow, orange and pink, sometimes brilliant, sometimes subtle.

Some, looking at vacation photos, for instance, remark on a clear, blue, cloudless sky. I prefer the random nature of clouds. Sometimes I enjoy being surprised.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Minneapolis 2016 - Pancakes, Malteds, Dinkytown and The Way Home

My final morning on this trip my nephew had a dentist appointment so I offered to watch the grandniece. We made pancakes, she mixing the batter, I cooking them in the skillet, a deal we had hammered out the evening before. Upon my nephew's return I took in the sun in the back yard playing a game of shirtless fetch with the dog until my nephew had gained enough feeling in his mouth for us to head to lunch.

Despite a wind strong enough to blow my baseball cap off my head, causing me to run half a block after it, we decided to eat on the rooftop deck of a diner in a neighborhood next to the University of Minnesota. The area is called, I swear this is true, Dinkytown. The menu consisted primarily of delicious, artery clogging, deep fried foods and malts.I could not remember the last time I had experienced that taste treat as I sipped and spooned my way through the creamy concoction. The area is like many adjacent to major campuses. A mixture of shops, many specializing in U of M specific merchandise, restaurants and bars. A drive through the campus afforded me views of the historic buildings encompassing an array of architectural styles which make up this section of the university. Across the tracks of the light rail system which serves the city the Frank Gehry designed University Art Museum sits next to the Mississippi River. It was interesting to see the relatively modest size of the waterway this close to it's headwaters. I am more accustomed to the "mile wide" dimensions nearer to Chicago.

In the late afternoon I bid farewell to my nephew and grandniece at the airport. I do not know how but I was afforded TSA prescreened status and attempted to not feel smug and over important as I strode past the long lines into the much shorter prescreened queue. Through the airplane window during the flight I watched as the green fields, forests and lakes of Minnesota morphed into the urban street grid and towers of the metropolis I call home.