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Art Along the Greenway

The Minneapolis Midtown Greenway is a fairly new bike trail that runs right through the middle of the city on an old railroad grade. As you head towards the river in the Seward neighborhood, where the trail abuts a series of industrial/commercial buildings, you'll see this off to your left:

So you keep going for while, and there's more:

Nope, not done yet!

There has to be at least a hundred feet of wall, that's decorated up as high as a person can reach, and higher in some places. Click through to see closeups of some creatures, a medium-sized version of the panorama, or even a very large version (28,000 by 1100 px) if you dare.

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Pete Meets Bear


Don't you want to just hug him?

I've been a little quiet on the online front lately. Annie was in town from Saturday through Thursday before her big move to Hawai'i, and we spent Sunday and Monday canoeing down the St. Croix from Rush City, camping at one of the canoe sites on Sunday night. On the way down, we surprised a large animal on the west side of the river, and based on the noises it made back as it fled into the woods, it was probably a black bear. So I guess it's appropriate to follow up on my previous post and talk about my bear encounters!

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First Storm of the Season

This has been a dry spring and early summer, as we all know. But this evening around 9:30 PM a line of thunderstorms formed over southern Dakota county and then trained for about an hour and a half. I saw the lightning to the south on the way back home and headed over to the bluff at Linwood Park with the camera. It turned out to be a great view, and more and more people started to arrive and watch the show.


A lightning show

Click through for the rest of the photos.

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Up the River... Again

Ahhh... A trip "up the river" on the long weekend. Wild River State Park, that is. The Trillium Trail certainly lived up to its name; this is a hillside in back of the B lane.


Along the Trillium Trail

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Anishinaabe - Part IV. A Bad Deal


Placard at Sandy Lake.

Along Highway 169 on the west side of Big Sandy Lake in north central Minnesota, there's a small road leading off to a rest area - administered, oddly, by the Army Corps of Engineers because of the dam at the edge of the lake protecting a short channel to the Mississippi River. A few years ago I put my kayak in the channel just below the dam and paddled fifteen miles into the Mississippi and down to the town of Palisade - a trip I will post about at some point.

But the rest area itself, beyond the small visitor center and omnipresent pavement, held a surprise - a moderately sized, conical grassy hill surmounted by a circular monument erected by several local Ojibwe bands, together with a bilingual display describing its significance.

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Anishinaabe - Part III. Seasons

The book that the last story was quoted from is organized into four sections: Ziigwang, Niibing, Dagwaaging, [dash] Biboong. (Click to listen ). This just serves to highlight the importance of the seasonal rhythm to traditional Anishinaabe culture.

On the west side of Misi-zaaga'igan (Mille Lacs Lake) is the small reservation for the Mille Lacs of Ojibwe. Probably the most well known feature is the casino. It's a modern day revenge that never fails to amuse me, but more constructively, it also provides an extremely valuable source of income for an area that traditionally has been on the bottom of the economic ladder in modern America.

On the other side of busy Highway 169 and a little ways down is the Mille Lacs Indian museum, jointly run by the Mille Lacs Band and the Minnesota Historical Society. In fact, the storyteller from the previous installment, Maude Kegg, worked there for many years. The highlight of the museum is a guided tour-only circular room about twenty-five feet in diameter. It is entirely enclosed and divided into four quarters (minus room for the entrance), representing the four seasons. Arranged continuously around the outside of the room is a beautifully kept up, life-size diorama showing typical scenes for each season.

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Spring is Springing (Slowly)

Posted Sat, April 25, 2009 - 10:03 PM
minnesota, photography

It's been a busy week, and I haven't had much time to post recently! But this weekend, I managed to get away for a short time and take a trip up to Helen Allison Savanna SNA in northern Anoka County. This 100+ acre plot is owned by the Nature Conservancy and managed in cooperation with the Minnesota DNR's Scientific and Natural Area program. The terrain is beautiful - small rolling hills and damp depressions on the Anoka Sand Plain, covered by a mixture of open prairie, oak savanna, and oak woods. The sandy soil lends itself to a xeric to mesic prairie environment, not much helped by the dry conditions we've had so far this year.

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Prairie buttercups at Helen Allison Savanna SNA


Anishinaabe - Part II

Posted Wed, April 8, 2009 - 9:43 PM
nativeamerica, language, minnesota

Mikinaakoons. (source)

Following up on my earlier post about Anishinaabe language, history and culture.

With the rise of writing, near 100% literacy in many countries, efficient distribution networks for various forms of writing, and especially, the Internet, the oral tradition that has contributed to human culture for arguably hundreds of thousands of years now seems like it could fade away as a quaint vestige of the past. (And yes... I feel the irony of talking about it this way.)

But still, that's not how people work - even the biggest iPhone and Crackberry fanboyz still like to get together and just talk. Stories about the trivial, the sublime, and everything in between flow over cups of coffee, mugs of beer, or crackling campfires every single day all over the world. And what child isn't happy to hear a bedtime story?

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Anishinaabe - Part I

Posted Mon, April 6, 2009 - 7:45 PM
nativeamerica, language, minnesota

I mentioned earlier how Anishinaabemowin is the presettlement language of my native state of Minnesota (more so in the north and east). I'm interested in more than just the language, though - the history and culture is also fascinating, and recorded in pretty good detail due to the span of time between the first European settlement and the start of cultural extermination - at least a full generation. This is the first post in a series looking more closely at the Anishinaabe, but in bite-sized pieces. Whole books can (and have!) been written on the subject, and I strongly encourage you to follow links and seek out some of the references if you want to learn more.

Here's a first taste.

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Pete Meets Moose

Posted Thu, March 26, 2009 - 10:18 PM
minnesota, travel, wildlife

Alces alces

Well, that's an ambiguous title - actually it was two moose; a cow and calf, in late spring. It could have been a lot more dangerous than it actually turned out. I think I ended up doing the right thing.

This happened several years ago, one afternoon in May, I think, when I was up on the North Shore. I drove up the Gunflint Trail, stopped various places along the way, and was at the Magnetic Rock Trail in mid-afternoon.

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