Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Minneapolis Travel Blog

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My ten-year-old guide explained to me on our return trek to the parking lot, "We're in a magical world, and if we don't go back through the portal before dark, you and Mom will turn into stink-flowers and I'll turn into a statue."  He got the first two part of that statement absolutely dead-on.  The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is nothing if not magical, a place where imaginations can happily run wild and weary bodies can sink onto weathered wooden benches conveniently scattered throughout the grounds (even at the dead ends in the hedge maze!  How thoughtful!)  And there is a bit of a race against time to see and feel as much as possible before the sun sets and the gates close for the night.

I felt like Alice in Wonderland as I wandered into the dahlia garden, the monstrous, firework-bright blooms bobbing above my head.
  Later, surrounded by decorative grasses, I might have stepped into a Monet painting, all full of softness and texture.  My young friend enjoyed running up hills to see how small his mom and I looked below, and discovered a small plush manatee "living" in a bright yellow, vaguely aquatic sculpture seat with many arms.  His mom, on the other hand, most wanted to see the Water Monster in the iris pond.

My favorite sight of the evening, without question, was the unexpected pop of red of a bright, old barn peeking out of the trees at the foot of a great hill on the far side of the heron pond.  Even as the light faded to a dull gray all around, that barn stood out, a romantic relic of a dwindling way of life once so essential to this region.  It made me both sad and grateful for the garden as a whole, lovingly maintained by people committed to gently reminding others where we come from and what supports us, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Lord_Mike says:
You are truly a talented writer! I enjoy reading your blogs very much!
Posted on: Sep 18, 2009
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Today's slowing down a bit, which is really nice after the whirlwind pace I've been keeping so far this week.  This morning I started out at Bob's Java Hut, then took a leisurely stroll around Lake of the Isles with a friend.  I was surprised to see a Nessie sculpture at the short end by Kenwood Park, but pleasantly.  I think I have a new piece of Minneapolis sculpture -- I greatly prefer the unexpected addition of Nessie to the inexplicably iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry.  The weather, starting out rather brisk, is now pleasant and warm with a gentle breeze.  Leaves are just starting to be tinged with scarlet and gold, with a strong predominance of emerald yet.  I love how clear the seasons are here.  There's no mistaking the feeling of transition in the air.

Also, I've seen lots of bees today.  I get absurdly excited about bees.  I love them, and I find it reassuring to see them in such numbers when they've been dying off so steadily in the past few years.  Both in Wisconsin and Minnesota, I've been giddy over them all summer long.  I'm anticipating more elation tonight, as I'm visiting the Landscape Arboretum for the first time!  They have over a thousand acres of groomed, themed gardens.  Through October, every third Thursday of the month is free after 4:30pm.  From November until March, Thursdays are free all day.  I'm amazed at the wide variety of activities and events available at this site.  Nature nuts, cut and paste this link:  http://www.arboretum.umn.edu/default.aspx

For now, I'm going to curl up and enjoy the near-silence of an empty apartment with a slowly turning fan.  Take care, all!
I'll have been in coffee shops five times before the day is out.  Breakfast at Common Roots (whole wheat bagel with apricot/craisin spread -- YUM), followed by Italian soda at Bob's Java Hut, followed by frothy chai and morning pages at SpyHouse (the original).  I met up there with a friend and headed a few blocks over to the MIA. 

I'm a little sad that my favorite etching isn't currently being displayed (I've been trying to catch it in rotation again for about five years now -- it's a tiny, anonymous depiction of Lilith riding a serpent through inky waves, with Death rising up from the water to caress her.  It grabbed hold of me and still hasn't let go!)  But, really, how sad can one be when gazing into the brushstrokes of VanGogh and Monet and Degas?  I'm feeling pretty saturated with gripping imagery.  There's a contemporary piece modeled after an old Brazilian sculpture of Icarus rising above his deceased predecessors, depicting dead Afro-Brazilian young men draped across a rocky outcropping, staring startlingly out of the painting.  The placement of this piece has proved controversial, with a book available under it welcoming commentary on the experiment.  The surrounding paintings are mostly Christian allegory, and while many comments praised the contrast of eras and the thematic resonance between them, just as many people had scrawled vehement rejections, such as "Aberration!"  Personally, I thought that the piece was the most emotionally compelling exploration in the wing, not only thematically and culturally, but also as a study in perspective, musculature, and draping.  It was the only piece that insisted that I linger and invest myself in processing it.

Anyway, back at my friend's apartment, gathering myself together again for the rest of the day.  Coffee is such a popular suggestion for meeting up and hanging out, and I have two more such dates tonight!  I'm grateful for the two hour cushion until then -- I'm stuffed from a quick meal at Jasmine Deli (small hole-in-the-wall with tasty, filling Vietnamese food).  So far, a deeply satisfying day.
ecnb says:
Lilith is an apocryphal Biblical figure, the first wife of Adam, who was cast out of Eden and destined to birth monsters.
Posted on: Sep 16, 2009
Lord_Mike says:
Full mind, indeed! Who is this Lilith?
Posted on: Sep 16, 2009