Monday, August 8, 2011

Early August

It sounds like a minor film by Yasujirō Ozu. Early August. A time when thought begins to bend almost imperceptibly toward cooler, quieter days ahead. A delicious time of the year, in my opinion, with three months of wonderful weather in prospect. Maybe a few vacations, too!

In our neck of the woods the crickets started to chirp on July 31. The Cedar Lake rail line is now dominated by the mauve of wild bergamot in profusion (also in decline) and seven varieties of sunflowers, cone flowers, and back-eyed Susans none of which I know the precise name of.

The Twins are limping along with fading hopes but the new bike trail under the stadium is a boon to recreational bikers. It connects the downtown riverfront with communities as far away as Hopkins and Excelsior, and also serves as the northern leg of an easy 20-mile loop in conjunction with the 28th Street Greenway. We took that route the other day, stopping at the Longfellow Grill for a midmorning breakfast of meatloaf hash topped with two eggs and a dollop of Béarnaise.

My August reverie may have been spurred by a visit to the Scott County Fair a Wednesday or two ago. There weren’t many people there, which gave me the opportunity to chat with the men and women in the food wagons while Hilary was off tending the Scott County Booth.

The young woman in the cotton candy trailer told me she’s from Macedonia. She’s just here for the summer earning some easy money. The man at the Elkburger stand filled me in on the recent chronic wasting catastrophe in the local elk population. Evidently the market in North Korea for elk antlers has taken a nose-dive, too. I would like to have bought a burger from the guy…but I’d already been to the 4-H booth and didn’t have the appetite.

Just yesterday, eager to take advantage of the cooler weather, we headed to Faribault (less than an hour south of town) to do the Sakatah Singing Hills Trail. The trail passes through rolling fields, crosses the Cannon River twice, follows the shores of a few lakes and alongside several remnant prairies before reaching the mature forests of Sakatah State Park.

You emerge from the woods at the lackluster town of Waterville, which bills itself as “Southern Minnesota’s Vacation-spot.” There’s a nouveau coffee shop on main street (with WiFi) but no one was in the tidy dining area when we stepped in to get an ice cream cone. Nor was the woman behind the counter especially friendly. Maybe there’s a connection. (Or maybe she was just out of sorts because all her regular customers were at the 127th annual Fireman's Weekend pancake breakfast over at the VFW.)

We wandered Main Street and examined the postings in the window of the real estate office, looking for a dirt-cheap cottage on the lake (dream on!) and then started the long haul back to Faribault. There was almost no one on the trail. A few warblers chirping in the deep woods. A kingbird on a fence-wire showing off the white band on his tail. A few robust walnuts above our heads...

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