The Year is Complete!

Please feel free to look back through the 365 days of 2010 sunrises, but "a year of getting up to meet the day" is officially completed. There will be no more new posts.


Thank you so much for visiting.
A one year blog project in which I share a process of transitions: emptying of the nest, reacquainting with my rusty intellect, plowing onward with my first full length book, entering the second half of my first century, and generally reflecting on life.

(see Dec. 29th, 2009 entry for further explanation)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Minnesota meanderings

sunrise:  6:24 am
Northfield, MN

I'm not sure I can legitimately claim that this is my first visit to Minnesota.  I did have a layover at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport once, and they provide a shuttle to the Mall of America, where I spent a couple of hours once.  Even so, this feels like the first time I've REALLY been in Minnesota, with my feet on the earth. 

Lots of farms around the highways, lots of space, lots of cows, but also a nice roll to the landscape in many areas.  There are signs of lakes and woods that are popular for outdoor recreation.  I get the sense that the culture out here is much more attuned to the natural world in general than on the east coast, where open space is something to go and find, not something you live amidst every day.

I could go walking for days in this little town of Northfield, which has huge tracts of land devoted to arboretums and conservation space.  I saw a beaver in this little pond right in the middle of the college campus.  Then at the arboretum I startled a gargantuan bird from a low branch, about 10 feet away from me - I am almost certain it was an eagle.  Shortly thereafter a graceful, long necked crane flew by, a couple of mallards quacked gently on a stream, and I interrupted this scolding squirrel, trying to eat his breakfast in a tree.

I left T with a student yesterday afternoon, so I'm on my own until we leave later today.  I sat down for dinner at a nice Indian restaurant last night.  It was not the first time I have been out to eat by myself, but it is still a bit of an anomaly.  I had been out walking, so I had no phone, no camera, no laptop, and no reading material of any kind with me. 

It was almost ridiculous how difficult it was for me to resist the urge to find something to do - go get a magazine, get my book, get my phone and call someone, get a pad of paper and a pen to jot down some thoughts.  But I decided I should be capable of just sitting still to eat one meal without any form of distraction or entertainment.  I felt strangely self-conscious.  Where do you direct your eyes?  If you look at a waiter they think you want something. If you look at people at other tables, they glance curiously and then return to their own companions, or they look around your table, wondering what you're doing there alone.

So I looked at the artwork.  I looked into the distance, I looked at my hands on the table. I tried to just take a deep breath and enjoy sitting still with a glass of wine.  A weird exercise in self-discipline.  It seems silly, but it was an illuminating experience.  Really quite nice, in the end.  But in general, I prefer company. 

These trees, laden with character, are all over the place.  A woman told me they are some kind of oak, but she wasn't sure of the name.  I am in love with them.


  1. Is that a beaver? Muskrat?

  2. I'm curious if your sense of mild discomfort would be the same if you were sitting on a log in the woods? Can an Indian restaurant in Minnesota be a form of "wilderness" in itself? Not meaning to focus on Minnesota or Indian restaurants - - but much like your earlier comments about the exit ramp patch of grass...

    Can we sit and take it all in and see it as another part of the "natural" world? And do so without feeling the urge to engage it or fill the time or be busy?
    Do we feel the need to be busy when we are sitting on the log?

  3. 1. beaver 2. I don't like to admit it, but I think a lot of the discomfort is "what do people think?" Sitting on a log in the woods, no one's looking, thinking, what IS she doing? How sad, she's all alone. Why is she listening to our conversation? Or, more to the point, there is no one there that I can imagine might be thinking such a thing. A person eating alone is conspicuous, somehow, and not protected by any bubble of social protection. Out in the woods, even if you DO see someone, it is natural and expected that people might be alone.

  4. Bet it's a Burr Oak...does Tessa have any leanings yet...apart from AWAY from Mt Allison!