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Posts Tagged ‘spring in Minnesota’

Mississippi Drive-By, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Mississippi Drive-By, sunset on the Mississippi, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.








Spring thaw spills over
Mississippi’s swollen banks;
Red River rages










I’ve been thinking about rivers this week as the Red River border between Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota spreads out over the land. Happy for Spring, this mighty south to north flowing river is swelled and overreaching her banks, leaving human devastation in her wake. The Red River stood at 40.71 feet shortly after 8:15 a.m., down a bit from the 40.8 feet at the stroke of midnight. That’s nearly a foot higher than the Red River has ever before reached in recorded history.

Rivers have minds of their own. And the Red River is a rebel. I remember a 1970’s flooding of the Susquehanna River when I was in college in Pennsylvania. Everyone was evacuated to higher ground; we were out of school for a week. My hometown hosts the mighty Mississippi, a river that writer Mark Twain knew intimately. He wrote about her history and human habitation in Life on the Mississippi. He also had this to say about trying to tame her:


The Mississippi River will always have its own way; no engineering skill can persuade it to do otherwise…

       – Mark Twain in Eruption

The same appears to be true of the Red River. This week, citizens of the area have lost homes and businesses swallowed up by the river. Thousands of Midwesterners in the Great White North rose to the occasion, sandbagging between the echoing dribbles of basketball’s March Madness. Cheering for the home team kept their minds from spinning, a kind of in-the-moment relief.

But yesterday, officials in the flood-plagued Minnesota community of Moorhead asked about one-third of their households to evacuate ahead of the rising river. Moorhead along with neighboring Fargo, North Dakota, a city of more than 90,000, are preparing for further evacuations. The river is not expected to crest until Sunday afternoon, an all-time high of 42 feet. Thank goodness the cold weather this week left the Red frozen to the bone, unable to push the higher limits that were predicted.

Our prayers are with our communities to the North, though the odds may not be. It has always been this way with rivers; and so it shall always be. And if it’s true what Twain says that “we form our opinions of our country from what other people say of us,” then Midwesterners will always go down as a people who show up for each other when the chips are down. Middle of the country. Middle America. High regard for the land, the rivers, the habitat, and the people who commingle there.



It is strange how little has been written about the Upper Mississippi. The river below St. Louis has been described time and again, and it is the least interesting part. One can sit on the pilot-house for a few hours and watch the low shores, the ungainly trees and the democratic buzzards, and then one might as well go to bed. One has seen everything there is to see. Along the Upper Mississippi every hour brings something new. There are crowds of odd islands, bluffs, prairies, hills, woods and villages–everything one could desire to amuse the children.

Few people every think of going there, however. Dickens, Corbett, Mother Trollope and the other discriminating English people who ‘wrote up’ the country before 1842 had hardly an idea that such a stretch of river scenery existed. Their successors have followed in their footsteps, and as we form our opinions of our country from what other people say of us, of course we ignore the finest part of the Mississippi.

 – Interview in Chicago Tribune, July 9, 1886, from Mark Twain Quotations


– For up to the minute coverage, photographs, and history, read about the Red River Floods of March 2009 at these links:


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, March 28th, 2009

-related to posts: haiku 2 (one-a-day), susquehanna haiku, savannah river haiku

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Hail To Spring, May 2008, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Hail To Spring, hail storm on the last day of May, 2008, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.







rising heat currents
confusing mixed messages
5 in the bathtub


weather radio
candles, pillows, and matches
Kiev runs away


hail rips off shingles
angry green kicks and sputters
two-faced blue Sunday








 

Peonies & Hail, May 2008, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.    Peonies & Hail, May 2008, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.    Peonies & Hail, May 2008, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.    Peonies & Hail, May 2008, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, June 5th, 2008

-related to post, haiku (one-a-day)

 

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Blossom Moon, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, May 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Blossom Moon, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, May 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



The May Blossom Moon rose quietly over Lake Michigan. Saturday night, she dodged high cirrus clouds and streaks of intermittent rain. Sunday she was more sure of herself, dressed in pale yellow with a silvery sheen on glacial tides. Does the Moon pull the tides across the Great Lakes? I think she does.

The Chippewa and Ojibway called May’s moon, Blossom Moon. The Eastern Cherokee, the Planting Moon. The Farmers’ Almanac blends into Flower Moon. In some climates, blossoms are slower to the surface than others. Spring arrives in southern New Mexico or east central Georgia much quicker than it does to parts of the Midwest or Minnesota.

There are moon references to shedding horses from the Sioux and the Northern Arapaho —   When the Ponies Shed Their Shaggy Hair. That reminds me of a horsehair carriage blanket I inherited from my Aunt Cassie. I had it hanging on the wall for a time in Missoula. The horsehair served as a lapwarmer.

I was surprised at how stiff and coarse the blanket was. How did they weave it together? With white-knuckled fingers, long needles, and bleeding fingertips? Two artists in the Casket Arts Building are working with horsehair in their art. One has incorporated it into an oil painting. The other, as hair sprouting from a clay-fired face.

Yesterday, I walked in our small gardens. The bleeding heart bells are in full white regalia. The day lily greens rose a foot over the weekend I was in Wisconsin. Four of the rosebushes we transplanted late last year show signs of life. We lost three of them. Not bad odds.

We lost the bush clover. The deer ate it last year when we transplanted it down by the lilac bush. So Liz dug it up and nursed it back to life in a planter on the deck. At the end of the season, we transplanted it again and put a wire cage around it from the Garden Lady across the street. We were sad when it didn’t make it. Why? Too little water or rain? Or was it the clay-like earth in the spot where we planted it.

The strawberries we moved to the sunny rock garden hill are wild and flowering. I couldn’t see the moon last night. I think we are into the New Moon phase now. Blossom Moon was full last Monday. Sunday night, we all walked down to the beach to take a closer look at her full moon skin. You could hear the lake tide lapping the shore. The remains of Maurine’s funeral pyre rested on the sand. There was a light wind.

I took a few shots without a tripod. I never know if they will come out. Handheld night shots are risky. But I wanted to capture the energy — the Full Blossom Moon sinking into the lake. She floats on top for a time, mesmerizing me, making me want to dive into the light. But the Mermaids know better. Never fall headfirst into the Siren’s call.


Moon Over Lake Michigan, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, May 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.  Moon Over Lake Michigan, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, May 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


posted on red Ravine, Sunday, May 25th, 2008

-related to posts: winter haiku trilogy, PRACTICE – Wolf Moon – 10min, PRACTICE – Snow Moon (Total Lunar Eclipse) — 20min, and PRACTICE – Wind Moon – 20min, PRACTICE — Pink Frog Moon — 15min

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Spinner, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, May 2008, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Spinner, 1966, sculpture by Alexander Calder, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden near the Walker Art Center, May 2008, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.







blue Midwestern spring
Calder’s spinner bobs and weaves
dancing with the wind







-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, May 11th, 2008

-related to post, haiku (one-a-day)

 

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I was torn. Pink Moon, Frog Moon, Moon of the Greening Grass. I liked Flower Moon and Broken Snowshoe Moon. I imagined fumbling out of a leather strap on an antique snowshoe, ice jamming the buckle, stepping out just long enough to sink knee-deep into what’s left of Winter. But it is the Frog Moon that stuck with me.

In April, the frogs began to call from across the fields, lakes, and valleys. A throaty, mating call, unmistakable in pitch, guttural. Pink is for the wild ground phlox, first blooming flowers of Spring. Spreading like wildfire.

Pink Moon reminds me of Nick Drake, loner, folk singer of the early 70’s. He died in 1974 of an overdose of the antidepressant, amitriptyline. You might know his song, Pink Moon, from the VW commercial that aired in the year 2000. It skyrocketed his song to stardom in the long slow wake of his death. How does that work, that mournful brush with fame.

What do I want to say about the Pink Frog Moon? Early in the month, I could not see her. She was hidden by the gray, foggy end of Winter. In her first quarter around the 12th, I saw her high in a powder blue sky. It was morning; daylight reflected in deep craters with names like Sappho, Isis, and Isabel, washed her out.

At the Full Pink Moon, I was sleeping. The night was cold. Liz came into bed, said, “The deck is on fire with moonlight.” I wanted to drag my body up, to walk out into the cold and bathe in moonlight. But I was too tired. I slept right through the full moon.

This week, we are at the last quarter of the Pink Frog Moon. Liz’s family is in town for her graduation. When we got home from dinner, I grabbed a giant, double package of toilet paper and a 12 pack of Zero from the silver trunk, closed the door, stopped and looked up behind the oaks before ascending the steps. No moon. The sky is clear. She has yet to rise high enough for me to see her.

Last Saturday, it snowed, blizzard flakes and 18 degree winds. I stepped out of the church without my coat, walked around the stained glass windows with the Canon, took a few shots of snow resting on green leaves, snow kneeling at the feet of Jesus, falling indentations between layers of budding, yellow tulips. How do they survive in April snows? It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, another hidden moon.

I’m thinking about ybonesy in Colorado, her uncle hiding behind the moon. I miss her energy when she’s gone. It is quiet. The seasons change. We have to answer the call. Alicia Keys wears earrings in the shape of a quarter moon. They are big as as the moon, too, and fall low to her neck. David Letterman reaches over to give her a hug.

I sit in the background, chattering away on the keys. I don’t have anything profound to say. Only this practice. I am tired and need to go to bed. But first, the Pink Moon. And the croaking of ancient frogs.


-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

-related to posts: winter haiku trilogy, PRACTICE – Wolf Moon – 10min, PRACTICE – Snow Moon (Total Lunar Eclipse) — 20min, and PRACTICE – Wind Moon – 20min

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All is quiet in my home. I am staring out at wind rocking the trees. Mr. StripeyPants curls up on the wool blanket beside me. I connect to something wild in him. I’m reminded of my March practices — mandalas and writing about the moon. Where has she been hiding? I don’t remember seeing her this month. Has it been too gray. Or have I not been paying attention. The light has come back. The sky is lighter before bed. Maybe she disappears into the white skies of summer.

There are many names for the March moon. I resonate most with the Eastern Cherokee name of Wind Moon. I came out of a meeting this afternoon, walked across the macadam parking lot. The wind kicked through my hair. There was a coolness about her, not like the dog days of August, or the warm breezes of June. It was as if the sky had licked the top of a mound of crusted snow, sucked up her coolness, and swept it across my face. I woke up.

The Farmers’ Almanac calls the March moon, the Crow Moon, a name from many of the Northern tribes. There is the Kiowa Bud Moon, the Shawnee Sap Moon, and the Alaskan Haida Noisy Goose Moon. There is the Worm Moon and the Moose Hunter Moon. But I walk with the Wind, and the poetry of the Hopi — Month of the Whispering Wind. The names are connected to the land, grounded there. That is why I like this practice. Even if I can’t see the Moon, it doesn’t mean she is not there. The tides rise and fall to her rhythm.

I haven’t walked the land this week. But I slow walk any chance I get. Across the streets, parking lots, and sidewalks in the cities and suburbs where I live. Along the steps that lead up to my studio. I always remember to look up. On the ground, my feet hold the connection. Rooted. Every angle counts. As above, so below.

The wind has been blowing all day long. Dark winter branches fall from leafless trees. Twigs snap and drop on the deck. Strong winds strip away the dead wood, prepare the land for renewal. I saw one patch of green on top of the driveway garden when tires splashed through puddles of melted snow. There is an ice dam by the garbage can, melting and freezing, puddling and coughing, spitting and sputtering toward warmth and sun.

The three cats run to the door when we return home. They stand on their back legs, noses against the screen, and stare out at the return of migrating birds. I saw my first robin on a branch near the downtown Minneapolis library yesterday evening. Traffic was heavy. We were looking for a parking spot. “Look! My first robin!” I said to Liz. “Where?” she peered out the window in the direction I was staring. “Oh, I see it! Yeah, Spring!”

Then we parked and walked across crumbled cracks in the sidewalk and into the high-rise library. We went to see a writer, Will Weaver, and a filmmaker, Ali Selim, talk about their work. The writer wrote a short story, A Gravestone Made of Wheat. The film maker read it and wept. Then he bought the rights and spent 15 years writing the screenplay and trying to gather enough money to get the film made. It is called Sweet Land. I wept when I watched it for the first time last week.

That’s the kind of writing I want to do. I want to write a story that is so true to its time, that it makes others weep. We sat in chairs in the Minneapolis public library, each with a small brass plate on one arm. The plate is etched with the name of a writer who is, or once was, connected to Minnesota. I listened to writers talk about their work. Money sometimes surfaces in these conversations. How do you make a living and write. I believe we find our way. If we continue to show up.

Continue under all circumstances. Don’t be tossed away. Make positive effort for the good. The positive effort will take you a long way. And the giving to others. I’ve witnessed it countless times. It creates an opening in me. A whole place where I can learn to receive.

I don’t see the Wind Moon tonight. I hear the knocking of the chimes. If I don’t see the Wind, it doesn’t mean she is not there. The sky is black. Two planes flash, rerouted across distant skies. I don’t hear them. I see wing lights flashing in the dark. I know the moon is behind me, rising above the oaks. If I look out the bedroom windows in a few hours, I might see her pale face, 3rd quarter – half dark, half light. There’s a symmetry, a balance in that. I count on her. The Moon is dependable. She is never tossed away.


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, March 29th, 2008

-related to posts:  winter haiku trilogy, PRACTICE – Wolf Moon – 10min, and PRACTICE – Snow Moon (Total Lunar Eclipse) — 20min

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