Monday, March 30, 2009

Flood Plain

It's my first day off from my whirl of tennis playing. After four straight days, I deserved some R&R, I thought, so I decided to have a look at the big river to see if was comparable to the Red River in Fargo. I drove to the north entrance to Hidden Falls Park and found it blocked off from vehicle traffic by the city. Undaunted, I parked on a side street and burned some shoe leather. I was nearly alone in the park, but it didn't seem to be very dangerous. The Mississippi River is running high, not Red River high, but up on the banks and claiming some territory that is usually used for picnicking. [That is the correct spelling of picnicking.] St Paul's city fathers were smart enough to build the city on the bluffs above the flood plain and it seems impossible for the city to ever be inconvenienced by a spring flood. It would require a Lake Agassiz level disaster to even get close. I'm feeling pretty safe.

After about an hour in the flood plain, I climbed the hill by Hidden Falls and headed to Lund's to buy the raw materials for lunch. Incidentally, it is possible to see Hidden Falls this time of year from the entrance road. The tree foliage has yet to close off the view and thus return its status to "hidden."

A photo from yesterday when the Prairie Princess was getting ready for a bike ride. It wasn't purely recreational - she had an errand to run - and she had to borrow Herb's bike helmet, because hers is somewhere near Lake Harriet where she's currently residing. She and Herb congregated near the confluence of the back door and the kitchen bathroom and willingly posed for their tousan. As you can tell from their attire, spring has not permanently sprung here in this part of the tundra.

We are expecting snow again tonight. There are often April snow storms here, notably in early 1980 and 1983 to announce the arrival of Herb and PP to Minnesota. It's still March.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Minnehaha Falls again

The falls are roaring. The ice is almost gone and spring is threatening to return. Today's temp managed to eke into the melt zone, but just barely. I went over to see what the level of the creek is and the condition of the creek, now that they are working on stabilizing the banks of the creek. I walked the trail to the Mississippi, too. The water is very high there, too, but unlike Fargo, we aren't going to have a flood here. We have a wide river valley and some sizable hills to build houses on.

Winter is not giving up yet. The curling season is done and it's too cold to ride a bike - for me, at least. There will be more tennis tomorrow and into the weekend.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Another View

Here is a chance to see a photo that Herb took at about the same time that I was photographing him yesterday at Vento Park. It gives a sense of where the park is - very near an interstate highway, a huge railroad yard, and downtown St Paul. The foliage is the same brown that showed up in my photos. The oldish guy in the shot is Herb's tousan. I'm taking a photo of a recently constructed stone walking bridge - one that most assuredly needed heavy equipment to build.

I had another appointment with my tennis racket this afternoon at Fort Snelling. For the fourth day in a row of competition, I did pretty well. My fatigue from yesterday had dissipated and we had two nice competitive sets. We mostly all played pretty well - Bill C. and I against Jerry and Jim W. The court surface at Fort Snelling is much more to my liking and the much higher ceiling gives me a chance to throw up a lob or two, mostly for defensive purposes, but not always.

I stopped at Papa Murphy's on the way home and purchased a family size vegetarian pizza to relieve my pizza hunger - a usual Sunday phenomenon. Onions, mushrooms, zucchini, artichokes, tomatoes, and spinach.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Swede Hollow Revisited

It's been sort of a tennis marathon this week again. After our last and finest curling win on Wednesday, I've managed to play three tennis matches in three days. I'm in a minor slump, losing more games and sets than I'd like, but, at least, I haven't fallen down in a while. So after a Saturday morning session at Wooddale, Herb and I took a hike through Swede Hollow and the nature sanctuary, the same one that PP and I had visited earlier in the week. The entrance to the park, at least the one we used, has this sign announcing its presence.

There is still a lot of dry, dead plants in the Bruce Vento nature sanctuary, but some green - mostly microscopic - is beginning to emerge. I brought my camera, as did Herb, and we have a record of the early spring grayness. The park has been improved in the last three years, with the planting of new trees and some work on hiking bridges. They have also chainsawed away a great deal of buckthorn, our local invasive species champion. The blue sky behind Herb was noticeably a richer blue than the washed out blue over the city. But it was a spring day in the 50's and we were happy to have the snow begin to drain away toward the river.

More tennis tomorrow. This time at Fort Snelling, a better surface to my taste.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St.Patrick in St. Paul

I went to another parade today. It was the annual St Patrick's Day Parade in the Saintly City. It was somewhat cooler than the Tampa Rays parade in Punta Gorda and there were more people in attendance, but a parade is a parade. A bunch of bands, local politicians, and a lot of people who want to be seen in a parade showed up. There were people giving away cheap green necklaces and penny candies to kids. They were mainly marching with their families and clans, which is pretty cool, but parades get boring pretty fast. The mayor of St Paul, Chis Coleman, an Irish guy was there wearing his green. This parade had something that the Punta Gorda event did not. Guys wearing skirts. Well, kilts.

I got to the parade by parking near Harriet Island and hiking across the Wabasha Street bridge. The warm weather has melted all the river ice, but there was a pretty brisk wind on the bridge to remind me that it is still March, still three days before the vernal equinox. On the way home I took a photo of the Mississippi River looking upriver towards the High Bridge from atop the Wabasha Street bridge. Most of the green in town was being worn by the Irish folk and there wasn't much left for the bushes and trees, but their time is not so far off.
It was a day of rest from the interminable tennis wars.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Nature Sanctuary Very Much

It looks like spring may actually set in. My car thermometer read 69 degrees this afternoon. It was a good day to do some exploring. PP had the day off and she wanted to check out the restoration project at the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary. It's connected to Swede Hollow and lies below Mound's Park in the eastern part of the city. We drove there and walked through the hollow until we found the sanctuary. It's been in existence at least since 2005 and there has been quite a bit of restoration going on there in the years since. They have planted trees and irradicated a lot of the nastiest buckthorn. This tree was at the top of the bluff, its roots are exposed, and seems almost ready to fall down hill. It made a pretty picture with the blue sky behind it.

I learned some more about native plants from the princess as we walked. Here she's extolling the virtue of the native switch grass. Notice the curtain of luxurious hair (as she calls it) blowing in the wind. She's also modeling her "hardcore staff (bananas)" shirt from the TRAM adventure several years ago.

The grass hasn't begun to green up yet, and there is quite a bit of snow and ice in the hollow, but the sun was hot and a jacket was not necessary outside for the first time since October of last year. We walked to the end of the sanctuary where Carver's Cave used to be, before they destroyed it to put in the railroads in 1869. Nonetheless. It was a nice walk in nature and a good way to spend the day after the ides.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

March Memory

It's a sloppy day here in Minnesota. I walked around, dodging puddles and icy spots on the sidewalk, hoping to find a picture that would convey what a cloudy, almost foggy day looks like here in the North. I got nothing. It was a pretty ugly day, but I didn't fall down, and later in the day, I got to play some mixed doubles at Wooddale with the hardcore girls and Jerry.

I have this picture. It was taken in March a long time ago. This is March, too, so perhaps appropriate. This was the Palm Sunday, the day that I was confirmed as a member in the Methodist Church in Coleraine. The photo almost certainly was taken by my dad, and it contains younger versions of people who sometimes read this blog - Mr Moohoo, Santini and a guy who used to call himself Pee-eyester (I don't know how to spell the name any more) I'm the guy in the necktie with the shirt sleeves sticking out of the jacket.

I remember some disagreement with my parents, especially my mom, about confirmation classes leading up to this occasion. I wanted to play hockey that winter, but the practice time conflicted with confirmation class, so I didn't play hockey. I might have turned out to be a pretty good player, but I'll never know for sure, now. I remember being very disappointed by the decision, and maybe even cried about it. I was 12. There were other things later that would have been more worthy of tears, but I didn't know what they were at the time.

Anyhow, here I am with my sibs, in front of our house in northern Minnesota "celebrating" my new status. In March of 1955. Lots of things you don't easily forget.

[I decided to look up the date of Palm Sunday using an Easter date web site. It turns out that Palm Sunday was April 3rd in 1955, so there are some things that I apparently don't remember exactly accurately. But, what the hay, I was only 12.]

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Curling, curling

On a day when the temperature actually broke into above freezing temperatures, tonight the Miller Rink scored our third victory of the season. We will not be chosen to represent the USA at the next Winter Olympics, but it's nice to win once in a while. We played with just three curlers - Mr Moohoo, Wireless, and me. Of course we were bolstered by the support of our loyal fans - PP and BB. They watched and had a brew or two while we coasted to an 8-1 lead after four ends. Then the unexpected happened. With two ends left to be completed, our opponents decided to pack it in. They didn't realize that we are capable of blowing a lead even that large, I guess, or maybe they needed to get back to drinking beer. They shook hands and we swept the ice, the chore of the winners. Pretty sweet.

I've been back from my trip to Port Charlotte for almost a week now. It's been winter since I returned, but today seemed to hint at spring. The puddles on the street corners were growing large, and they were liquid almost all day. I still have a little tan on my legs from the tennis and biking I did in the Sunshine State, but I suspect that it will fade before real spring arrives in the North Star State.

I played USTA mixed doubles tennis Sunday evening and lost to a pretty good team. Marcia and I lost 6-0, 7-5. It took us nine games before we broke into the win column, but after we finally figured out how to play the other team, things went pretty well. It was a match against the team that we are tied with for the league lead, so it would have been nice to win, but it was a good match and I was proud of our ability to come back at the end.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Lillie Anderson in 1931.

Under her picture in the 1931 Sylvacola (the high school year book in Webster, Wisconsin) it said, "Not only good, but good for something." She was athletic enough to play kitten ball and volley ball, acted in a class play, and had a good sense of humor. The senior class prophecy was written by Betty Miller, her future sister-in-law, and predicted, “Lillie was in Hollywood, as a comedian, and was rated very high.”