Saturday, April 22, 2006

April 22 -- The Rumble of Harleys

Yes!! Marco and I got to see another great local tradition this morning!

Every year there are four things that happen in our little St. Croix Valley on the third weekend in April, or thereabouts. One is that the sun comes out and the trees turn green and it is usually the first beautiful weekend of spring. Two is the Afton Lakeland Elementary School carnival. Three is my birthday. Four is the first great motorcycle rally of the year.

Today we saw the motorcycle rally!

We started hearing the roars of motorcycles around 9:30 am. Towards 10am Marco and I rode our bikes (pedal bikes - big geeks) over to our local dive bar parking lot, the Beach Bar. Here there were at least 300 bikes with their riders, and more arriving every minute. Everyone was in black and leather and bandanas and silver earrings. One platinum blond woman had flames up the back of her jacket and rode a pink Harley. Big burly men had tall chopper handlebars, and mustaches like handlebars to go with them. Guys with cigarettes hanging off their lips rode bikes with huge fat tires for fast turns. Some bikes had sidecars for extra passengers. They all got in line in the main road, filling up both lanes and causing minivans and regular cars to pass on the shoulder, their suburban drivers either looking amused or freaked out.

At 10am they took off in a big roar. They left towards Afton in the morning sun. The roads there are twisty, narrow and scenic so they are always a big favorite for motorcyclists. Every year of my youth this weekend always brought this same roar of motorcycles. It lasts for hours. You can hear it throughout the entire valley. It's almost two hours later now and I can still hear motorcycles going up the road.

So we get birds and leaves and flowers in the spring. And we also get the roar of Harleys. This is my town.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

April 18 -- Marco, Easter, Spring

Just a quick note to say that I'm back, and Marco is now here in Minnesota! He flew in last Monday night, and I took him to Lanesboro in southern Minnesota for a few days. Pretty place. I had never been there before.

Spring quite literally arrived the very same day as Marco with 80+ degree weather. So we were able to put on our t-shirts, bike for hours along the lovely winding Root River near Lanesboro and come back into town hot and sweaty and then get ice cream at the local German restaurant then drink ice cold beers on a restaurant porch over the river. Nice!!!

The weather has been spectacular ever since. The leaves are just starting to come out on the trees. It's SO warm out. On Easter we had my whole family over and I cooked (with Marco) for 14 people. We also did a trivia Easter egg hunt (my idea, because I always loved Easter egg hunts) with candy for the two young boys, Ben and Drew, and little pieces of paper with trivia questions in them for everyone else. We sat in the sun on the porch and quizzed each other with the trivia. Quite fun. It's my first year since high school that I've been home for all three major holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, in one year.

Now Marco and I are organizing our next steps -- things like jobs, apartments.

Monday, April 10, 2006

April 10 -- Waiting Makes the Day Go So Slow!!!

I just got an SMS from Marco at the Detroit airport. He's on time and about to board his flight to Minneapolis!!!!!!

This afternoon seems like it's been SO slow. I'm impatient for Marco to arrive!! The upside is that I feel like I've had three times as much time to do stuff, so I've been productive -- doing laundry, tidying up, dropping of knitting needles for Emily, that kind of thing. And yet I STILL have 2 1/2 hours to wait. uhhgghhh

I hope this weather stays for Marco's whole first week in MN. Wow! It's like a beautiful summer day out there. I could go around in just my swimming suit it's so warm. I walked to Afton as usual and a skirt and tank top was more than sufficient. I still wore tall socks and I was too hot. Since this area is hilly and scenic, a lot of people were out cruising around on their motorcycles and in covertibles. Spring fever!! Aaaaaaaaaaaaahh.

It smells so nice out too. The windows are open and the breeze is drifting in.

I'll be out of town for a week. I'm bringing Marco down to Lanesboro. There's the Root River there, and I think we'll bike along it. There are Amish folks so maybe we'll go see what we can see about the Amish way of life. We'll drop by the land that my cousin and her husband just bought down there, and maybe see their new bees. I don't know exactly where New Ulm is, but maybe we'll visit the Schell Brewery. Lots of stuff to choose from.....

Saturday, April 08, 2006

April 8 - Marco Will Be Here Soon!

Marco is going to arrive here in Minnesota on Monday evening! I am so excited! These last few days have seemed SO long. When he gets here I'm going to take him somewhere pretty in the countryside. It is lovely sprintime here now.

This week was the first time the ponds and lakes have completely lost their ice. It is so pretty to see the water reflecting the sun and the trees that rim their shores again. The skies are blue and I've seen some little crocus flower popping up.

Last night I looked out my bedroom window and saw big flames in the forest on the other side of the pond. It was kinda bizarre because the flames were about fifteen feet high and it looked like a forest fire. But I realized it was my neighbor across the pond making a bonfire down by the water, probably burning old branches that he has cleaned out during some spring yardwork.

In the dark I couldn't see if anyone was out watching the fire or not though, so to be sure I went out of the house and walked down in the dark forest to the edge of the pond. The water was glassy and smooth in the night, and the huge flames reflected in the water. It was pretty. I like the forest, even at night. And there were frogs out already! They were chirping in the spring evening breeze. So I stood there in the dark, listening to the calm chirp of the frogs and the quiet crackle of burning wood, watching the flames of a fire in the trees and its reflection on the water. Then I noticed a ripple in the smooth water and looked out just five feet or so and a dark figure was gliding across the pond. It was a beaver! It went by at least three times. I don't know what it was doing. Collecting wood at this hour? Maybe. It was totally silent when it swam and left a ripple of small waves that caught the light of the fire.

It was pretty, and I saw my neighbor by the fire so it looked like things were under control. I watched it for awhile then walked back up to my house.

Friday, April 07, 2006

April 7 - Who's Who of Minnesota

Ohhhh, stayed out late for karaoke last night. Good times. But I'm a little rusty this morning....

I guess I should introduce the new cast of characters here in Minnesota. These are the friends, some new some old, who have been keeping me entertained (and doing a damn fine job of it) these past few months while I was home alone in Minnesota:

First, there are the people I have just met this year:

Molly - a very funny girl who knows lots of people. She has a showdog named Valentine who can jump through hoops on cue (sort of). She does theater and sings. She can even do a karaoke rendition of Blondie that sounds good. Girlfriend of Nick Raleigh.

Mike - a poet and photographer with a techie day job; and the first person to introduce me to Strong Bad ( ). He pretends not to watch "America's Next Top Model" but he really knows everything that's going on. Boyfriend of Lauren Asheim.

Lauren Asheim - Of two Laurens, this is the girl Lauren. Fellow alumni of the Minnesota Kicks and Pipes Brigade (me being the other member - it's quite a show). She's a Guthrie actress and a fine knitter. Girlfriend of Mike.

Jen - The only girl I know who owns her own spinning wheel. And she is also the only girl I know who owns a metal forge. She spins yarn and grumbles about the dog that she hates that is living in her house.

Ally - She's about to leave to teach junior high school in Columbia. In a group of knitters she crochets.

Then there is the old school folks; people who have known me a lonnnngg time:

Lauren Allen - the other of two Laurens, this is guy Lauren. Defying all common cultural notions we are still best friends after all these years. If anyone has seen me through some awkward years (elementary school, junior high school, high school - the whole works), that has gotta be him. I think most people will agree that Lauren is also one of the world's best people and if there were a register of cool people like there is a register of historic landmarks, he would be at the top.

Emily Allen - born Emily Henson, she is Lauren's wife. We met in ninth grade, creating (with Nick Raleigh) fantastic science projects that involved flaming gerbils. Now she's a crafty girl working in jewelery and metal, and we both get kicks cruising to hardware stores and dreaming about kilns. She can also break out some Bollywood dance moves like nobody's business...

Nick Raleigh - always a unique guy..... he endured years of math classes with me and Lauren back in Stillwater. Ten years later at age 26 he ran for governor of Minnesota with the Green party. He sang Johnny Cash last night at the Karaoke bar. Boyfriend of Molly.

Alicia Jacks - A tiny girl with two big twins and one big dog and a husband named Karl . I got lucky because when my family moved to the St. Croix Valley at age ten, Alicia was the first girl I met and my first St. Croix Valley friend. I haven't gotten to see her much since I've been back, as two new members of the household keep her occupied. Certainly hope to see more of her though.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

April 4 - Miscellaneous Spring Fun

Oooooh, beautiful sunny days!! The snow is gone, the rains have cleaned the streets and little green plants should be popping up any day now. I walked to Afton today and ended up only in my t-shirt!

On Sunday Lauren, Emily and I took a road trip down the Mississippi. Laughed a lot. It wasn't sunny that day -- rainy the whole way. But it was warm out and springy nonetheless. We hiked up Barn Bluff in Red Wing (a big hill over the Mississippi). We stopped at lots of little roadside curiosities and took pictures. Ate gummy worms. Visited the Nelson Bottoms fire brigade. Found a guy having questionable relations with train cars. Sicko.

I also got a surprise phone call from Zoe in New York (actually New Jersey, but she looks across at New York). Hi Zoe! Your call made my day! Keep July 4th in mind....