Simple Joys

Every time we go “home” to Minneapolis, we’re amazed by the changes. Corn fields have sprouted mega shopping complexes, many with their very own exit and entrance ramps sutured into the umbilical of the freeway system entangling every corner of the Twin Cities. No matter where you are, there’s an exit or entrance ramp no more than two minutes away. Whether your taste is Mega Mall, Mega Zoo or Mega Selection of Ethnic Dining, the Twin Cities has it all.

A few days into my last visit, driving from one end of the Twin Cities to the other in search of museums, aquariums, zoos, malls and restaurants, I started wondering what we did “back in the good old days” for entertainment. As she does so many times, my daughter echoed my thoughts, in her own 9-year-old way. “Mommy, you must have loved coming here when you were little”. “Well, this wasn’t here when I was little. We didn’t have this aquarium (or museum, or this zoom, or this mall, etc.) when I was little”. That earned a “wowwwwww”, from her. During the dolphin show at the Minnesota Zoo, she sighed, “Oh, I wish we lived back here. We don’t have anything like this by us. You were a lucky kid”. “Ummm, no, this wasn’t here when I grew up”, I said. This scene was repeated quite a few times during our visit. Finally, exasperated, she asked, “Well, what DID you have?”. For the next few days, we went back in time, back to my childhood…

“We had a beautiful waterfall, especially after it rained”. The afternoon following a torrential downpour, I showed her what I meant, taking her to Minnehaha Falls where we spent a good part of the day exploring trails down to the water’s edge.

”...and we had quiet country roads, not congested with aggressive cars….”, I told her as we watched, early morning, a farm appear through the rising fog…

”...and we had corn fields to explore – there’s nothing as calming and scary, all at the same time, as when you are deep inside a corn field, suddenly unsure of any direction….we didn’t need horror movies back then….”, she listened, peering from the edge of the field into the rows, not at all sure she wanted to take a step forward….

”...and we had hundreds of lakes, all throughout the city – you could roller skate or bike for miles on miles of paths, swim or fish, all within sight of downtown Minneapolis….”, I said as I showed her our favorite, which her father and I had strolled 3-miles around its edge, hand-in-hand on the night we became engaged.

”..and best of all, we had sunsets that were as good as any New England fireworks because you could see them every single night. There were no tall trees or hills to get in the way. All that flat prairie land was made for sunsets – everybody would sit on the front step in summer, watching in complete silence, as steel-blue twilight passed into night, but not without the horizon bursting into flames of golds and pinks, purples and magentas….”, I told her, her little hand in mine as we watched the awesome beauty.

I’ve only been back to the Twin Cities a handful of times over the past 14 years. During those visits, we were so busy trying to become familiar with all the changes, we never stopped to enjoy the simple pleasures, the simple joys of what had made life unique and special. It’s not a place I’ve ever desired to return to…until this past visit….


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