Stories from the corner of 37th and Nicollet

Home amongst the trees

I just returned from a week in Washington state - visiting my son in Seattle and trekking through Olympic National Park. It was a much needed block of time away for me and an opportunity for the cafe to get along without me. We all seemed to come out of the experience ok.

My joy was in the multiple hikes through big woods - firs of enormous girth and height. Cedars and Sitkas that tower in the only northern temperate rain forest. I’m not a great traveller, I tend to miss home when I’m away, so I found much comfort in the conifer forest that resembled our own Minnesota northern forests. And the mountains, the ocean, the climate and coastal vegetation held me in awe and wonder throughout the hikes and gave me a new set of experiences to hold in my memory.

We did spend time in Seattle, the city, as well. It’s progressive, forward-thinking business community was an inspiration (and a challenge) for me. Art and culture, density and transit, and $15 in action gave me glimpses of where MSP can be and how well we are doing. But it was the trees that kept calling to me along my trail walking meditations - this is what I heard:

  1. Stand tall - people will look up to you

  2. Stretch - reach for the sky, it is where light and energy are found

  3. Keep rooted - deep roots in stable ground bring long life

  4. Make your home among a diverse community - there is strength in numbers and health in a rich, varied ecosystem

  5. Be generous - you can be a home and support for many others, in ways which will be obvious and some that won’t

  6. Bend when you must - sometimes the weight is too much to hold - give a little to last longer

  7. The Earth will change around you - you will need to hold on to others for dear life, nurture your connections

  8. Know you are appreciated even though you may not be acknowledged - to be one of many is still to be one

  9. Your challenges in life will show in how you stand - wear them proudly and let them be your story

  10. Endings are not final - new life is built from your death - you live on - prepare yourself to be fertile ground

Our seven years on Grand Avenue were under the shade of several mature ash trees. Moving to Nicollet Avenue was a bit of a shock, where the only mature tree around us was taken down during road construction, and the rest were brought in after the construction of Nicollet Square and the reconstruction of Nicollet Avenue. They are all now just starting to take enough shape that a bit of sidewalk shade is showing. Sadly, Grand Avenue lost all but one of its majestic trees and is now much like Nicollet Avenue of a few years ago. Our urban canopy has changed and the loss of tree cover is a noticeable loss indeed. May we learn to be good stewards of our trees, they have much to give back in return.