This past weekend we went to my cousin Marlene son’s wedding in Bloomington, just south of Minneapolis/St. Paul.
I sat next to Ellie, the Flower Girl –
– A wonderful party!
A trek to the “cities” is something of an undertaking (being about four hours one way) as much as it is a dream of the marvelous, a promise of random adventure and haphazard happenstance, an aspiration for moments of serendipity. We haven’t actually gotten there yet.
Yet we continue to plan for the trip we will take some day in order to eat and drink our way through trendy restaurants like The Norwegian Bachelor Farmer. How could you miss with a name like that? We promise to attend the Guthrie Theatre and the Minnesota Opera. Meanwhile the Cirque du Soleil is coming to town, and we need a big fix of foreign and Indy films. Badly.
Since moving to west central Minnesota, we have skirted the dual metropolis a number of times – both to the south and the north in order to visit family. We have been oh-so-close to the hub and the heart. A blinking glimpse of skyline here and there from the blur and intensity of a freeway. A promise of cultural and culinary delights. I sit, Nervous Nellie in my co-pilot seat, scanning for merging cars from adjacent lanes and watching for upcoming lane changes. The city scapes pop up and flash out of bounds. Just beyond my periphery. They are not accessible today. Some other day. Some day.
I’m certain there is an easy way in, a proper trajectory which magically turns into the very off-ramp which glides directly to the center of big city dreams, but having given up the freeways of California some time ago, I feel a bit like Dorothy – frantic after a whirl-wind ride, afraid I may never find my way home again, but determined to eventually go through the gate into the Emerald City.
This weekend we came close. After the loveliest of weddings, bolstered by the joy and fun of family, and armed with multiple google maps, we set our sights on visiting four museums on the way back home – all of them within the boundaries of “the cities.” In Minneapolis our goal was to see the Russian Museum, renowned for it’s Spanish Colonial Revival architecture; the Weisman Gallery at the University of Minnesota which was designed by Frank Gehry; and the Minnesota Institute of Arts which currently is featuring the largest collection of Rembrandts ever assembled.
However, our first stop was in St. Paul and the Minnesota History Center in order to see a WPA exhibit entitled “1934: A New Deal of Artists.” And that’s as far as we got.
The 56 paintings which helped to employ artists during the Great Depression were marvelous and notable for their commonality, whether the subject was labor, community, or people, by a balancing of despair and determination. A good start to the day as a foray into city enjoyments. (No photos allowed.)
And since we were there, we took in an exhibit on the US-Dakota War of 1862, which has been an unfortunate omission from our history books. And then a wondrous display entitled Weather Permitting which ranged from funny scenes about that number one Minnesota sport, Ice Fishing, to all the usual jokes about snow, to a simulation in a re-created basement of a tornado striking with all the effects you hope never to encounter. It had my heart pounding.
We ended our History Center tour with an exhibit entitled “Minnesota’s Greatest Generation” which was the most fun of all, centering on all that we personally remembered of our after-the-depression, WW 2 youth. Everything from coupon books to a historic soda fountain to an army tank – topped off by another heart stopping simulation, this time inside a C-47 warplane which was bombarded by enemy fire. Really.
So we did in the end, slip through one small crack on the edge of the greater metropolis and had a glimpse of the notable cathedral of St. Paul along with a few of the grand mansions of Summit Ave. (Hello ghost of F. Scott Fitzgerald.)
– to be continued . . .
IF WE CAN JUST FIND THE WAY IN!