Puddle Land

September 21, 2015

The view was clear for an hour as the plane approached Minneapolis.

I laughed.

Minnesota from the air looks like a giant lake dotted with islands– or a land of puddles. Leaving California’s immense ocean, majestic mountains, giant redwoods, endless produce fields — I had to admit: Minnesota is boring by comparison. But we know (those of us who live here and don’t just fly over) those puddles are beautiful. And they are everywhere. We are always a few miles away from peace-inducing waters.

Still, I realized while sitting on the plane a week ago, it is quite possible for me to go days, weeks even, without seeing water.

Today I followed the Minnehaha Creek to Lake Nokomis on my bicycle, then circled the lake seven times, stopping occasionally to walk up to the water. On the west side, in the marshlands I saw a two great blue herons.

On summer weekends the Nokomis picnic area is filled with families barbecuing. The kids swim and playing together on the playground in front of the beach. In a segregated and unequal city, it is an unusually healthy multi-racial space. That is no an accident. It is the result of positive social engineering. Thanks to some far-thinking city officials over a century ago the city’s lake and river shores are public, lined with woods and public walking and bike paths. Houses with lake and River views share them with the world.

Every place has its beauty — even flat Minnesota. Not every place — in Minnesota or California — is the beauty accessible to all.

Even if it is accessible to us, it is easy to get to so caught up with life we don’t take advantage of what we have. Today I made a resolution: to take advantage of the puddles. I will make sure to spend time by a lake, a Creek or a river, at least once a week.

Want to go for a walk?