Decades have passed since my mom dropped me and my suitcase off at the Greyhound bus stop, a.k.a. my Uncle Harold’s gas station, and sent me packing for Minneapolis. I rode that bus 130 miles to the heart of the big city. Just a country kid, all alone.
My Aunt Rachel would pick me up at the depot and we would head to south Minneapolis, where I stayed for a week in the summer with her and Uncle Bob.
We took in the sights, sometimes catching a city bus downtown, other times biking or walking to Lake Harriet. Memories of those days with my godmother rushed back last Sunday when I picnicked at Lake Harriet with my family.
But this was not the lake I remembered. Today, the Lake Harriet area bustles with activity. From a picnic table that was practically perched on the walking and running trail, I watched a constant stream of joggers race by, their stomachs flat as washboards, their legs bulging with toned muscles. This I noticed as I scooped another spoonful of hash brown potatoes loaded with sour cream and cheese.
And the bikers—couples on tandem bikes, serious riders in their tight shorts, families—nothing at all like Rae and I on our old bikes. My daughter, Amber, who lives in south Minneapolis, warned us several times to “watch for bikers.” She really didn’t want one of us wiped out by a whizzing bike due to our inattentiveness.
She knows me too well. I found plenty of distractions, most noticeably the jetliners roaring overhead every few minutes. I have this thing about low-flying jets. I really don’t like them, a dislike that traces back to several Air Force fighters flying so low over my childhood farm that I instinctively dived under the B Farmall tractor.
The whole time we were picnicking, I was trying to block out those incredibly low, sound-deafening jets.
After lunch we meandered toward the Lake Harriet Bandshell, which temporarily distracted me from all those planes. Inside the bandshell, a couple practiced the tango, or was it salsa? I can’t remember which.
And then I looked down, to an unexpected surprise. Poetry upon bricks in front of the bandshell. Rather than the typical names and dates stamped upon bricks as a fundraiser, there were poetic phrases:
These words I pondered as we walked along the water’s edge, as sailboats sat silent upon the lake, as ducks spread ripples swirling across the water, as another airliner roared overhead.
© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling