The leaves have begun to fade, showing distinctly it is late summer. Even the flies that were an annoyance just a few weeks ago have mostly disappeared. But there still is plenty of summer to see along the Minnesota River in Mendota, Minnesota. Flowers, birds, an occasional deer, and always snakes and frogs. Snakes and frogs, they seem to coexist in a rather unpleasant way…if you’re a frog.
I walk the trail whenever I have a meeting at my office in Eagan. I make a point to plan an hour for it. To erase some of the guilt, I bring along my phone and even try to get in one or two calls. There are picnic tables at the Mendota Historic Site which make for a good outdoor office.
But my trail is becoming less dress shoe-friendly and an invasive species of weed — which I think is toxic — is taking over more and more of the trail. It will take more than some pretty yellow weeds and mud puddles to keep a dedicated walker off the trail, however, and I am dedicated to this trail. Plus I like to take a leak at point high on the river bank half way through my walk.
Thinking is the real purpose of this walk. I don’t know why, but this place more than others is good for sorting out heavier issues, perhaps because I am usually very much alone on this trail. I think about me.
When I walk my neighborhood, I tend to look more at what is going on with other people. There are lawns and gardens to judge, shops to shop, and a coffee shop to snoop into for a look at who’s talking with whom.
I still think a lot about myself, but I daydream about my past, about my childhood. My neighborhood reminds me of Matchbox cars and forts built in rows of lilac bushes. Some of the old houses bring me back to a time when a television wasn’t forever turned on in the living room. Once upon a time you could walk into an old house and hear only the sound of a floor fan blowing warm summer air through an otherwise quiet space. I miss that, in fact I must miss that a great deal because walks in my neighborhood have a hard nostalgic twist to them. I cannot walk there without somehow walking into the past.
Down along the river, however, I am neither here nor there. I am literally between my private life and my public one, the one that involves work, clients, and petty responsibilities. I am suspended between the two while also in a place I enjoy. It is a haven of sorts and that is why I think it works well for sorting through thoughts and feelings.
I feel deeply, think deeply but often struggle to be heard. In this place though I am always heard. I am the only one listening. There is something nice about that.
Mendota is a Dakota word for meeting and the name describes the meeting of the Minnesota River and Mississippi River. And as silly as it might be, it feels like a good place to join and rejoin ideas, too. Private and public meet, mingle and flow on.
But back to the trail…
Don’t miss the trail…
It is getting late in the summer, but you can still see wild flowers and jump across spring fed rivulets, you can swat some stubborn flies and feel the heat of the August sun. Best of all, you can pretty much do it all entirely undisturbed along the river in Mendota. It is one of my favorite urban walks in St. Paul and Minneapolis. It might even do me some good.
- Blood on The Trail (littletourinyellow.wordpress.com)