"If I don't believe in solipsism, who will?" - Al Batt

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Church Hill Ramble

Ramble: to move aimlessly from place to place.

View from a big leather chair - my life love, Lorna reading a book on her iPad. Everything in the room is used except the rugs and her lamp which are Home Depot. Nothing costs over $100 (possible exception the one rug). There are two of the terra cotta lamps, purchased at $4.95 each, less 40% off! With a little searching the quality of used "things" is amazing. Shame of us for replacing so many things that are perfectly functional and reasonably attractive. 

The view to the north from our deck. Most places that have severe topography have logical streets which follow the lay of the land. Lanesboro was laid out in 1868 as a planned village. Unfortunately the planning was done in New York City by people who assumed the land was relatively flat. The result is some extremely steep approaches to Church Hill. Once you do get to the top of the hill, it is fairly flat, with two old stone churches, a former high school which is now condominiums, and about a dozen homes. Another quirk is that when the lots were sold off they were sold as a certain size without good reference points. As a result of this there are strips of land scattered around the village that don't seem belong to anyone. From both of my neighbors, when asked where the lot lines are, I got a shrug. The steep wooded lots across the alley to the north of us may not be buildable by present codes - no matter, it doesn't seem to belong to anyone other than the deer anyway.

The cap. Eric Thiss is a snake man, a herper. He keeps snakes in cages, rather, he raises snakes and lizards, and makes a living selling books on reptiles to schools, zoos, breeders and hobbyists. I've had some of the old original Lanesboro residents raise an eyebrow at the mention of his name. "He's weird", and "He don't know nothing but snakes". Strange comment. I have found his knowledge to be broad, deep and passionate.  Just the kind of person I like to be around. Recently, to fill the time, he has been helping me to reduce my beer supply and oversee his son Evan mowing my lawn. A couple of days ago we spent the late afternoon working on that beer situation. Later in the evening he returned with his wife Kathy and Evan. As a payment for a few days of beer, he brought gifts for Lorna and me - bird caps(!) a Violet-crowned Hummingbird for her and a Redtail Hawk for me. 

As we sat talking in the house, Evan was outside doing nighttime kid things. He hollered that there was,"A really big toad out here!" We went out to check. BIG TOAD. Eric said it was a female and a toad that size was probably at least 20 years old. As they were leaving we were admiring our new caps. He said that I had struck him as a Redtail man. As I was still admiring that fat toad eating my earwigs I said, "I think I'm more of a Bufo man right now". He took my new hat off my head and said he had something better for me. Half an hour later he dropped off the Toad Cap. What are the odds that a guy would actually have a baseball cap with an American Toad emblazoned across the front? Seriously?

It means a lot to me, I look at it and can't help thinking of my friend, Toad Peterson. His old toady heart is failing, he doesn't have many options left and he's decided to forego all of them. As always, he is the wise Old Toad. Hang in there while you can, let go when you need to. I'll always have you on my cap. 

Also before I go, I have to mention the Smokey River BBQ, It's hidden along the river, down behind the grain elevator on the north end of town. It's not fancy - picnic tables, plastic forks, the smoker is an old semi trailer. I had the pastrami on a recommendation that it was "absolutely world class". It is. Hot and smokey, knife-cut per order. And just fabulous side dishes. I'll fill you in on the rest of the menu as I eat my way through it.

Lanesboro, Mn: Foodie heaven - 750 people, 12 great places to eat and drink. ;-)


Old Toad said...

Mighty fine toad cap, Gunnar. Great to know that the top of your head will be well-sheltered after I've turned to dust. Meanwhile, the heart keeps on beating ... until it stops. Nice to see that you and Lorna have settled in to Lanesboro with its fine food and brew spots (and fat toads). Watch out for slow-hopping toads on the bike trail!

Gunnar Berg said...


Tom G. said...

Thankfully for me, my Missus agrees about keeping things around that are perfectly functional and reasonably attractive.

Mimbres Man said...