Napatree

In my mind I am often on Napatree. You're welcome to come along.

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October 31, 2014

As my friend Betsy says...

Whether you’re a good witch or a bad witch…it’s all about the shoes.

Happy Halloween!

8:01 am cdt | link 

October 30, 2014

Pork chops, apple sauce. Baby’s first food, apple sauce. Bland diet, apple sauce. Apple windfall, apple sauce.

My daughter has a basket full of apples and she is talking apple sauce. If you are native to apple orchards, if yours is a landscape of Honey Crisps and Cortlands, Granny Smiths and Winesaps, you have apple sauce history.

My personal apple sauce history includes a cone-shaped colander that stood on a metal stand. The cooked apples were pushed through this colander sieve with a wooden pestle by my mother and her mother before her. The outcome, smooth and perfect apple sauce served, warm or chilled, on breakfast cereal, on ice cream, plain or with a dollop of whipped cream. Apple sauce flavored with cinnamon and a sprinkle of cloves or nutmeg. Sometimes, the best times, the apple sauce was flavored with cinnamon red hot candies. Pink apple sauce.

8:34 am cdt | link 

October 29, 2014

I’ve taken to the backroads with my learning-to-drive teenager. The old truck that is parked as ornament in a yard, where you continue west on Woodley at the junction of the road that heads to Dennison, is filled, we recently noticed, with hay bales, artemeisia and pumpkins.

I am not the best person to be teaching this kid to drive, I am timid behind the wheel. Another family member can take on I 35. But I am okay driving with him in the hinterland where we saw the truck, whose vintage I would guess is maybe the 1930’s or 40's. Actually, I have seen this truck many times before. In the summer it is filled with flowering plants and at Christmas, greens. What is wonderful about the old truck, whose bed is filled with plants, is the fact that the arrangements are so well done. Artfully done. The summer petunias are lush and cared for, the colors carefully chosen. The hay bales are stacked with a good eye and the pumpkins well placed. The artemisia that cascades over the sides, is abundant.

Coming upon this old flower filled pick-up, is always a nice surprise. I like imagining that its creator worked in the display department of Dayton's. 

7:55 am cdt | link 

October 28, 2014

Once, when we were waiting for a house to be renovated, we were invited to live for a few months at a condo belonging to friends. Friends who had a home in Florida where they were spending the winter. The condo development was a swishy one and the unit we stayed in backed up to a wooded area. The condo and the grounds were well designed and well groomed. A lovely place.  One day we hung a small, simple bird feeder, just an ordinary tube feeder, outside the French doors that opened to a patio garden. Almost immediately we were told by a neighbor not to attract birds to the area. Birds, he said, could mess up his cars.

Priorities. We have them. They are individual. They can be big or little. Having a priority seems different, weightier, than having a choice. Opting for a certain treat from the dessert menu, cheese cake instead of pumpkin pie or bread pudding, is a choice. We can be a little judgemental about other people’s priorities; our own seem, well, a little better, more in the right order. Something happened yesterday that has me thinking priorities.

Yesterday I passed a house where a man was hosing down the sidewalk. An hour and a half later, I passed the same house, a house on a large, corner lot, and the man was still hosing, very meticulously, his driveways and sidewalk. A spotless sidewalk sans a single leaf. A priority.

8:27 am cdt | link 

October 27, 2014

I had lunch last week with a friend who ordered a walleye sandwich. A walleye sandwich seemed a less usual entrée choice but of course it wasn’t. Well prepared walleye is fresh out of the water in most of Minnesota. A native fish.

I might be spoiled, though, as far as fresh fish goes. We lived for so long near the ocean we took for granted shops selling lobster rolls and fried clams and fresh fish and chips. A perfect fish lunch was takeout at City Fish, a fish market where restaurant chefs came to buy their fish for the day.

City Fish was a huge place with loading docks and tanks filled with live fish. Refrigerated glass cases featured cleaned and cut up fish on ice, ready to be cooked. Workers walked around in rubber boots and rubber aprons continually hosing down floors in the huge, cold expanse. Though City Fish was immaculately clean, it was wet and chilly. It smelled like fish. When you visited there you were always pleased to be wearing heavy shoes.

In one corner of the market was a small takeout restaurant offering only two choices, besides beverages, fish and chips and shrimp and chips. Both choices were prepared in front of you and put into a box containing, besides the seafood and French fries, salt, tartar sauce, ketchup and hot sauce. On special days, or days when I was feeling flush, shrimp and chips was always my lunch choice. 

9:07 am cdt | link 

October 26, 2014

Usually, I am assigned to a single student, a blind student, taking the GREs. This year there were no blind students taking the exams at the Carleton location so I am, instead, proctoring a classroom of twenty-four students taking tests in physics, chemistry and biology. There are rules to be obeyed and instructions to be followed in the taking of these important, two hour and fifty minute tests. My primary job is checking IDs and carefully observing. So that is what I do. I observe.

Several of the students in the classroom wear clothing with the names of schools: St. Olaf, Creighton, Macalester, Hamline, Calvin, and Fordham. Every one of the young women, there are eight, have long hair. One young woman has been drinking before the test, which begins at 8:30 a.m. I can smell alcohol on her breath. Two of the men wear ski caps which they never remove; one young man is heavily tattooed on his arms, neck and what is visible of his chest. Two of the students are Asian, one is Indian and one is from the Philippines. Nine test takers wear glasses, six of the men have facial hair. There are two left-handed students requiring special chairs, one young woman has a nasty cough. The predominant color of clothing is blue. With the exception of one young man wearing maroon shorts and two men wearing black pants, the others all wear jeans. One of the male students sits for the test with spiked hair. Hair that has been moussed and gelled, hair that rises inches off his head. When the test is over, the spiked hair has fallen flat from having the test taker run his hands through it. Style has been sacrificed for a physics exam. This is what I observe,

What I imagine I see when I look out on the students bent over their test books and answer sheets, students who run their hands through their hair, who look off into space and chew their pencils, are thoughts and questions and thinking so intense it is visible, cartoon fashion, floating above their heads. I sit in a room where everyone is in search of answers.

8:58 am cdt | link 

October 25, 2014

Last night on my twilight walk I saw a motorcycle parked on Division Street. It was a pale, greenish silver color, and it had the sort of finish seen on the newest of cars. I slowed my pace to look at it. Gleaming and new, I imagined there was, nearby, a very proud and happy motorcycle owner.

There are motorcycle lovers in my family. My cousins rode and raced them. Once I had a boyfriend with a motorcycle which didn’t make my mother happy. Motorcycles, for me, are always a little more than a motorcycle. They are also a story.

A couple of years ago I was parking the car in the Econo Foods lot when I noticed a couple pulling out from their parking space on a black Harley. Their pulling out was accompanied by familiar, and revved up, motorcycle noise. The driver of the bike wore black leather as did the woman sitting behind them. Neither wore helmets though he wore a bandanna on his head. They would have been a tough looking, even wild looking pair, except for two things. The woman, with her bleached hair and knee high boots, wore studious looking, horn rimmed glasses. And in her arms she carried a plastic sleeve filled with flowers.

6:09 am cdt | link 

October 24, 2014

“When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock...” There has been Halloween hype for weeks. Halloween does not rank high on my holiday list, but it was right up there when I was a kid. With my Boyd School friends, I roamed my childhood candy territory ending up, after we were absolutely certain the last Baby Ruth bar had been collected, in the Dingmans’ lantern-lit backyard feasting on grilled hot dogs.

Halloween decorations have become more prevalent. There are some homes that go all out with monster inflatables, ghosts hanging from trees and tombstones planted in lawns. About this Halloween overkill, I am not so keen. But I love my next-door neighbor’s Halloween decorations which are nothing more than two large bushes beside the front door strung with lights. Tiny, bright orange, pale orange and yellow lights. Lights designed and made just for a little Halloween extra. These lights are on in the morning when I walk the dog, when the sun is still working on appearing. They are festive and pretty. They are, I think, Halloween at its subtle best.

6:39 am cdt | link 

October 23, 2014

I’m going to name drop here. Oscar de la Renta. Oscar de la Renta, the fashion designer who died a few days ago in Kent, Connecticut. In a photograph I came across recently, I am sitting with my friend Don on Oscar de la Renta’s porch. Just off the edge of the photo is one of Oscar de la Renta’s dogs.

I am photographed at this beautiful country home because Mr. de la Renta and I were both members of the National Garden Conservancy tour. I was in Kent, along with several others, to visit his gardens. I did not make it inside the house. But the gardens of his home were spectacular. Flowers, vegetables and an orchard all so beautifully cared for. But most memorable were the scarecrows in the vegetable plots which were more statues than scarecrows. As you might imagine, they were beautifully dressed.

8:48 am cdt | link 

October 22, 2014

We assemble weekly. We pass around our words on big sheets of paper or scraps found crumpled in the bottom of a purse. We laugh. We raise a glass or clutch a mug. We explain our worries and sorrows, spreading them out on the table like a hand of cards. We are different, different in so many ways. Our years together now are many.  We meet because it is habit and we share a landscape. We see, feel, hear and know that landscape. That landscape belongs to us, and so we write it.

7:12 am cdt | link 

October 21, 2014

My favorite time to walk is on the edge of the day or the edge of the night. The light at these times is the most interesting. Late yesterday, this is what I saw on my walk.

I saw the everywhere leaves and a length of sidewalk covered with child-done chalk drawings of people and houses. They made me smile. I saw a Carleton student stop walking, put down his backpack and kneel to pet a cat. I saw a mint green car and blooming daylilies that had managed to escape the frost. I saw a woman in a white ruffled skirt and shiny black boots. I saw a sign that read, “Jessica and Chris, meant to be.” I saw a young man on a bench reading what I think was a bible. I saw two separate flocks of geese and a New Hampshire license plate. I saw what I needed to see

And this is what I heard. I heard a small girl yell out from the top of a piece of climbing equipment at the Central Park playground. “My God, Lola, what did you do?”  I heard a bassoon.

9:06 am cdt | link 

October 20, 2014

Yesterday, an October day of sunshine and warmth and trees raining leaves, was a day to leave virtual life, for a while, and appreciate a wild life.

A wild observation. Several times during the day I observed robins, ten and twelve at a time, coming to the large Italian bowl I had earlier put out on the garden fence as a birdbath. That giant ceramic bowl, a years-ago gift but now chipped, adorned with painterly red and yellow flowers.

The robins drank and bathed and socialized in the makeshift birdbath. I watched as one robin climbed in and seemed to luxuriate for several minutes in the sun-warmed water, I watched as several robins drank together and bathed together, splashing silvery water droplets high into the air. No video, no forwarded film. Real robins. A wild sight. 

8:20 am cdt | link 

October 19, 2014

My friend, who is a travel writer, emails that the autumn leaves in New England have been particularly beautiful this year. Because of the variety of trees, the weather and the landscape, a landscape of hills and mountains, fall foliage is always beautiful in New England. But the leaves in Minnesota have also been particularly beautiful this year. Gorgeous in fact.

When we moved here in late December several years ago, we dug up and brought with us a Japanese maple tree from our Connecticut yard. We knew that the zone we were moving to was too frigid for this variety of tree but the tree had been a recent birthday gift to me from a daughter-in-law and it was too hard to leave behind. So, into the moving van it went. A small tree whose roots were soaked and well wrapped to keep them moist for the journey west. The December 17th day we planted the ornamental tree in our Minnesota yard, it was very warm allowing us to dig a hole for it in soil that was barely frozen.

The tree, quite unbelievably, survived. It also survived last winter’s polar vortex, and today I look out on a good-sized Japanese maple flourishing adjacent to a garden fence. The leaves on the tree are a stunning shade of burgundy red.

7:26 am cdt | link 

October 18, 2014

Yesterday I spent time in the Verizon store. Time, like an hour and a half. Time, in the Verizon store, is future time, customers talking about the new 'sixes' and complaining about the old Thunderbolts.

People enjoy hanging around in the Verizon store. They take pleasure in using their devices with other people who are using their devices. A device camaraderie. In the Verizon store, carpeted and selling expensive items, jeans and a sport's team sweatshirt is the usual dress.

I also saw multi-tasking taken to a new level. One of the individuals behind the counter was able to handle two customers, with very different questions, while he programed information into two different phones for two other customers. This person must have received high grades in kindergarten for following directions. Anyone watching him would be impressed.

9:25 am cdt | link 

October 17, 2014

The daily news, not so good. War, as usual, in the mideast, ebola cases on the increase, an avalanche in Nepal, racial tension continuing in Missouri, action on the part of ISIL extremists and riots in Hong Kong. Plus the regular stories of climate change, graft, theft, political wrangling.

Tucked into the news of late the recurring issue of using Native American images and names for sports teams. Some, both Native Americans and non-native people, find team names like the Fighting Sioux and the Washington Redskins objectionable and demeaning. Some, both Native Americans and non-native people, do not. This often contested issue has, unlike the world problems we are facing, a simple solution. If Native people are raising their voices in protest, if a single Native person raises their voice in protest, honor those voices, that voice.

Go Gophers, Badgers, Timberwolves, Wildcats, Cardinals, Orioles…

6:56 am cdt | link 

October 16, 2014

When I was in elementary school I learned to swim at the Y. On Saturday mornings I took a bus downtown and got off at Farwell Street where the Y was located. I checked in at the front desk to pick up a locker key where Linda, my friend from the swimming class, was usually waiting for me. Together we would head down a long flight of stairs to the shower room and basement pool. The smell of chlorine became intense as we descended the stairs.

Because the high school I later attended was only two blocks away from the Y, gym class swimming lessons also took place there. But two blocks was enough time to freeze a girl’s hair on a below-zero January day when there had been no time to use a hair dryer. I recall sitting in class and feeling my frozen hair melting against my collar.

Yesteray I visited the new YMCA in Northfield. Newly opened, it is a handsome place bustling with activity. Play spaces, meeting spaces, classroom spaces. Glass walls everywhere. In fact, when you walk in the door you are immediately aware of the pool and lap pool behind a glass wall. No long staircase to descend and no over powering smell of chlorine.

9:37 am cdt | link 

October 15, 2014

Today, women who write poems sit in the sunshine. The words begin here, with them, and dance across prairies, moving west and south and east to the sound of an orchestra, of running feet, of tears. Big stories filled with little wonders, small stories filled with mountains. Sometimes you can hear the sound the quiet makes. At other times, the beat of drums.

 

 

7:42 am cdt | link 

October 14, 2014

It is that time. Boxelder bug time. Some autumns there are many bugs, sometimes not so many. But every fall they appear.

Though we do not have boxelder trees on the property, we have maples. Boxelders like maples, too. On an October day like today, they are trying to find a warm winter home. They cluster on the south facing siding of the house, fly around the south facing windows wanting entrance. One, who has found a way in, walks across my desk. It is a handsome bug I think, a bug who does not bite. The handsome bug lifts its legs high, moves its antennae in a sweeping manner. As I bend in close to study its coloration, its wings, its insect ways, my desk lamp makes a warm hat of light on my head.

6:38 am cdt | link 

October 13, 2014

A radio, which I had temporarily perched on the arm of the small IKEA sofa in my studio, fell on the floor. My regular NPR news station replaced in the fall by a station playing Frank Sinatra. Frank worked beautifully with my knitting project so I kept listening. At the end of several songs I found I had landed on the student-run Carleton radio station. When the hour changed, bringing on a new student DJ, Frank was gone but I did not move the dial.

Once when one of my kids was a young teenager, a kid who annoyingly walked around with music constantly piped into his ear, I asked if I could borrow his tiny radio and earpiece for one day. I asked that he set the dial to the station he usually listened to. So with an earpiece attached to my head, I listened for an entire day to Def Leppard and REM and Sting and the Police and Queen. I was inundated with music which spoke to the young.

I am still listening to the Carleton radio station. The rap has been replaced by some very contemporary but melodic vocals. I have put my knitting aside. I am going to dance.

 

9:01 am cdt | link 

October 12, 2014

In the magazine, Elle Décor, there is a regular feature where various designers list twelve items, never people, that they can’t live without. Pondering this question for a moment, I document my twelve items as I think of them.

Trees. I love trees. I would not be happy in a desert landscape.

My Japanese scissors. These scissors are an extension of my hand.

Pens with real ink. I write with an ink pen.

Vermont cheddar.

A dog. I function better in life with a dog.

Knitting needles. They help me think.

Napatree, which I now must visit in my mind.

My father’s ash tray.

An iron. An iron presses out the wrinkles in my life.

A handful of poems.

Okay, okay, my smart phone.

The handwriting of my mother on the fly leaf of a book.

     Yours?

 

 

8:13 am cdt | link 

October 11, 2014

House painting has been happening in the neighborhood. Painters wearing white, but why? I looked this question up and now I know. Or sort of know because the answers were prefaced by ‘probably.'

They probably wear white because white became the badge of a professional painter, a painter that belonged to a union. They probably wear white because years ago houses were usually white-washed, fences, too. Painters probably wear white to keep cool when they paint outside in the summer, and they probably wear white to advertise their business.

Deiter Krieter wore white when he painted for us, when he hung the 'outer space' wallpaper in the boys’ bedroom. Deiter Krieter had an immaculate truck, and he kept his supplies clean and in order. I don’t remember paint on his white clothing, but I can recall the odor of his aftershave or perfume when he entered the house. I think painters wear white because painting is an exacting business. Deiter Krieter, with his heavy German accent was a precise and exacting sort of guy. Or painters, as some wag wrote on the internet, probably wear white because they wanted to be doctors.

10:21 am cdt | link 

October 10, 2014

Like many who feed the birds, I’ve pretty much given up on keeping squirrels out of the feeders. They seem to find a way. Because squirrels in Minnesota look like squirrels in Connecticut, I assume they are Eastern Gray Squirrels as opposed to Western Gray Squirrels. Though what little reading I’ve done on squirrels suggests that those found west of the Mississippi usually are of the western variety.

My dog-walking friend refers to squirrels as rats with bushy tails. In other words, pests. Big time pests. My feelings, however, are not as harsh as his. Once I reached out to bang on the kitchen window in an attempt to scare a squirrel off a feeder hanging just inches from the glass. I stopped my window bang mid-air when I noticed the squirrel was a mess: a torn ear, a hairless shoulder, a scar across the face from previous confrontations. The squirrel at the feeder also appeared to be a nursing mother. This squirrel mother had to eat.

Fall is the time of squirrel mania. They dart and dash across roads more so than usual, often with something stuffed in their mouth. With freezing temperatures now at night, and thoughts of winter shoveling and heavy coats and heating bills, I can feel squirrely and a little manic, too.

7:54 am cdt | link 

October 9, 2014

The cosmos, untouched by frost, move and bend in a breeze. I move with them.

The grasshoppers jump, in grasshopper fashion, through the field grasses. I jump with them.

A man in a blue t-shirt runs easily, with loping stride, on the sandy road. I run with him.

Maple leaves shine with October light. I shine with them.

Overhead is a v-formation of geese making honking sounds as they fly. I fly with them.

 

It is that October kind of day. One feels connected.

 

 

6:11 am cdt | link 

October 8, 2014

Three haikus, written by friends, from an artist’s book of haikus:

 

Flocking meadowlarks

Black vests taut

Rise from dry ditches...

 

Tonight leaves swirl, dance

Tumble into a red gold carpet

Moon sings – rock and roll?

 

Sun makes tree shadows

Leaves whisper autumn message

Winter behind hill.

 

 

5:37 am cdt | link 

October 7, 2014

The German festival of Oktoberfest begins the end of September and lasts for 16 days. I think the festivities in Germany go until the first weekend in October. But German food is for anytime, and tonight we are going to have a sauerkraut dish for dinner.

I have no particular childhood memories surrounding sauerkraut though I do remember my mother serving it on occasion. My sauerkraut memory is this. I was married immediately after graduating from college and my husband’s first job was in New York City at the Museum of Science and Natural History. Coming from Eau Claire, everything about Manhattan was new and amazing. Here, right where I was then living, were the places I had read about, seen pictures of. I recall my excitement. One Saturday we took the Staten Island Ferry to Staten Island for no other reason than to walk around the borough. The weather was beautiful. On the way back to Manhattan we bought hot dogs, on the ferry, hot dogs served with mustard and sauerkraut. I had never had sauerkraut on a hot dog. I had never, I remember thinking on that sunny day, had anything quite so delicious.

3:12 pm cdt | link 

October 6, 2014

My mother made apple pie, my mother-in-law and Mrs. Fleming, too. It was Mrs. Fleming who taught me to make the apple pie that was the Fleming family's all-time favorite.  Newly married, my husband and I lived with the Flemings in New Jersey until our apartment in Manhattan was available. Mrs. Fleming taught me things she thought I should know. It was obvious to her that I was not at home in a kitchen.

Granny Smith apples for pie, she said, and when making a crust add a teaspoon or two of sugar. Avoid handling the pie dough when you are making it, it will toughen if it is over-handled.

I have made many apple pies; sometimes adding raisins or walnuts, sometimes flavoring the pies with a touch of nutmeg. I have on occasion used crumb toppings or put a confectioner’s sugar icing on the top crust. It is apple pie season and I will probably pick up some apples at Fireside Orchard and make a pie, remembering, with love, Nan Fleming. But apple pie is not really my favorite. I cast my vote for coconut custard. 

6:31 am cdt | link 

October 5, 2014

I almost know Jane and Michael Stern the way I almost know Martha Stewart. Jane and Michael, who were long married but have now divorced, are from Connecticut, too. Between them they have written several books on road food. The two, who started traveling across the country eating at road stops, local restaurants and mom and pop cafes in the early seventies, turned the spotlight off European cuisine and on, instead, regional American dishes and home cooking. They write about the places they visit, and when they find a place the makes the best chicken and waffles or fish tacos, the best banana cream pie or strawberry shortcake, usually an Aunt Lulu’s or grandma Bertie’s recipe, they describe the food and the location.

Yesterday morning I had scones at Martha’s Eats and Treats in the tiny town of Dundas, MN. Martha’s is a small café serving freshly made pastries, hearty soups and breads but only on Fridays and Saturdays from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. My raspberry scone and the half of a cinnamon bun I shared with my friend yesterday morning were unbelievably delicious. The scone light with a good scone’s not sweet taste, the raspberries in it abundant and fresh. The cinnamon roll was warm and yeasty and perfectly glazed.

Like the places the Sterns describe, the food at Martha’s is outstanding. It is a destination place and a local place. It is like Cheers, the bar made famous by a television series. A place where everybody knows your name.

8:36 am cdt | link 

October 4, 2014

These words from the "Opinion Exchange" of yesterday's StarTribune, words by Nicholas Kristof, a writer for The New York Times: “One thing frightens men with guns – girls with books."

Education is more powerful than bombs. It nurtures a middle class with equal rights for women and gives all people, including women, a stake in the system. The terrorists carrying guns are wise to fear girls carrying books. 

7:17 am cdt | link 

October 3, 2014

For whatever reason I just googled the word bravery. The definition is courageous behavior or character. Synonyms for bravery are valor, intrepidity, nerve, courageous, daring, fearlessness, audacity, boldness, dauntlessness, stoutheartedness, heroism. Not one of those words defines or describes me.

Recently I met up with a high school friend. One summer at the Northern Wisconsin District Fair, we were probably fifteen or sixteen, this friend and I were stuck at the top of a broken ferris wheel. She was calm and collected, I was not. In fact I was, in biblical language, sore afraid. She reminded me of this, with a laugh, when we met, reminded me that I annoyingly recited every poem I had committed to memory to keep my mind off our precarious position in the stratosphere.

For a few days I have been watching a baby rabbit. A rabbit that appears under my window about the same time each morning. A rabbit beautiful in the way that all babies are beautiful. Perfect. And tiny. And new. Today I stood and watched this baby eat, loving him through the window. When a maple leaf fell with intention near the tiny creature, it startled and retreated, in a blink, under the juniper. I understood. Though I am pleased to say I have no fear of falling leaves.

6:59 am cdt | link 

October 2, 2014

Yesterday’s paper featured a woman in her nineties teaching an art class. Regularly you read, and hear, about people of advanced age doing extraordinary things, like running marathons and skydiving. Recently I was in a yoga class taught by a woman in her seventies.

This morning when I was looking for an old photograph, I came across a hand drawn birthday card made for me by my oldest son. On the front of the card was a cartoon-like figure, me, walking with a cane. Inside the card were drawings of a bottle of Geritol and a bearded figure, probably his father, blowing out an abundance of candles blazing on top of a cake. The words accompanying these pictures were “Oldie but Goodie,” and “Senior Citizens Rule.”  And, “Happy 41st Birthday, Mom." When I turned thirty the younger brother of the birthday card maker, after hearing my age, commented he knew I was old because my arms were looking old. I was celebrating my thirty years, and he had just turned five.

When you’re a child, in our family anyway, people out of high school are old. So I was old then. I am not so old, now.

5:50 am cdt | link 

October 1, 2014

A friend and I met in Carleton’s Weitz Center for Creativity to enjoy a cup of coffee. Or in my case, a cup of tea. The Weitz is the perfect place for such a meeting. There is a small café serving an array of baked goods to appeal to hungry college kids, soups and salads available if you are in need of a lunch. There are always people around using laptops or quietly talking but never too many. Sometimes I imagine creative thoughts becoming visible in that space. Visible like the silent films or phrases that are often flashed up on the walls.

My friend and I sit on a sofa looking out on an enclosed garden. We are deep in conversation when a student approaches us. He is blond, blue-eyed, neatly dressed and his hair is carefully combed. He excuses himself for interrupting and holds out his hand. He says his name and adds he has an assignment for his psychology class. The assignment is to ask strangers to tell him a secret.

Everything about this young man is earnest. He is most of all, direct. I ask him his year and he tells us he is a freshman from North Carolina. I ask if school is working well for him and he says that it is. My friend, who is friendly and outgoing, immediately tells the student a secret. He thanks her and says that her secret could be his secret, too. When it is my turn to tell a secret I think for long moments, like I have a perfect and blameless life. And then I tell him mine. 

6:48 am cdt | link 


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