Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Road washed in sunlight

Ahhh! That's the sound of absolute contentment as warm weather settles in and summer with it.

It's been a great week of heat, sunshine and the bliss of trusting that these conditions are here to stay. 

Our cool May, now so nearly done, has rewritten its lines in the nick of time.

It's thrown off the last of the malaise known as the season that stayed too long. Am relishing this new regime very much!

Up North, where the holiday took us last weekend, was pretty in its spring colors.

The lakes region has beauty through the seasons but it's this time of year, with the long light and the imprint of the regenerative earth on the green wooded hills, that ties me to this area of outstate Minnesota. 

On our arrival, glad that the tees and shorts we packed were going to be the standard wear, we felt almost tricked.

Warm as it was, the trees were barely leafed out. We were further along at home with leafage. We weren't quite expecting this. It was a step back to the open views of early spring.

With a string of 80s lining up for the holiday, as if the balmy days were in on the secret from the start that this treat awaited us, the trees quickly leafed out.

There were a few trees stunted by the duress undergone but most trees, with the birds singing in their boughs, played hasty catch-up to compensate for the late start.

Lilacs were the same way. They were bushes with more bravado than leaves when we got there. Dry southerly winds acted like a blow dryer set on HIGH. The lilacs got the message. 

Bushes in protected places or with southerly exposure were able to produce tenuous blossoms to pick for Memorial Day. The wand-like grace of the lavender flowers took center spot at the Memorial Day table. 

Lilacs made an apt holiday bouquet. They bloom at Memorial Day in this part of Minnesota. We associate their blooms and their lavish scent with this national day of appreciation and remembrance.

The gravel road that rises on the other side of the river from where we stayed catches the evening light. 

The hill, and the hills falling away behind it, brought me to reverie as evening deepened and the sun continued strong.

This country road, and many others like it, unroll from our lakes region across the prairies and mountains to our Western coast. 

Aglow with late sunlight, bright enough to need to shield the eyes, this steep incline of a road leads out of sight to places that lead me on.

The dusty road reminds me of pioneers and ones drawn to seek out that which lies over the next hill. The road beckons, the road calls.

These daring souls, believing in destiny, or in luck, or driven by the compulsion to explore or compunction to readdress their lives, follow the roads that in the end are new beginnings.

I think of this with this road. It’s one small road climbing from the river it crosses. At the top is blue sky and the fields and hills to which it presses.

The road is identified by Google but relatively few come upon it other than those with reason to be there. But to me the road is huge. It’s the track to the open spaces of my interests and wonder.

It’s the direction of dreams. It’s the way to possibilities. It’s the roadbed of intentions. It’s the winding route which is the pursuit of steadfast hope.

Washed in sunlight the road stokes my imagination. Its course is to places unknown. It summons something of courage and curiosity to which I respond.

Ro Giencke – May 28, 2014 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

2018 Super Bowl

Basking under the warmest skies since late September was good enough for many of us.

It turns out there was more to come. 

The Twin Cities was handed a plum today which gives us more than beautiful weather to cheer about.

News out of Atlanta is that Minneapolis has landed the 2018 Super Bowl.

It’s such a delectable announcement for us. It’s eases the pain, a little bit, for all the Super Bowl games the Vikings came close to winning but didn’t.

Kudos to the Minneapolis bid committee. Good job, well done! Congratulations also to the NFL owners who decided the 2018 site. You made a great selection.

“Our Super Bowl” (as already sounds natural to call the Super Bowl to be held here) is February 4, 2018. 

Minnesota will make a good winter host. We excel at this winter kind of thing. It promises to be a good party. 

Minneapolis was host to the 1992 Super Bowl. So it’s been awhile. That game was at the Metrodome. 

Super Bowl 52 (easier to remember than LII, most of us rusty with Roman numerals) will be played at the new Vikings Stadium.

With glory affixed to it already by the honor of being chosen as the 2018 Super Bowl site, the stadium is not an actual structure at this time. 

Construction is underway following demolition of the Metrodome and December 2013 groundbreaking ceremonies.

The new stadium will rise on the Metrodome site in downtown Minneapolis. It’s slated to open in 2016.

The Metrodome was a baseball pilgrimage site of sorts for faithful Minnesota Twins fans. We attended nearly 30 years of baseball games under its marshmallow-like, often maligned roof.

Indoor baseball, ignominious as some considered it, saved us from chilly spring starts like this year at our new outdoor Target Field, and from rain-outs which are a nuisance.

Some of us had no bones to pick with the Metrodome. We have many fond memories of being there. 

With protection from pelting rain, or an occasional thunderstorm, we watched our Minnesota Twins lose and sometimes win, and we kept believing in them.

We wildly waved our homer hankies in 1987 and 1991. They were the years the Twins, considered underdogs against Detroit and Atlanta, won the World Series.  

Their October championships put us on top of the world as we savored the success of the hometown team.  

Now the Metrodome site is set to initiate an era of football in its own football stadium. Vikings Stadium is the crown jewel in the plans. 

News that the 2018 Super Bowl comes to the stadium an amazing journey to this point. 

Sketches of the stadium, as it will be ready for the 2018 Super Bowl, are eye-catchingly beautiful. They’re a combination of fantasyland,  fabulous and football dream come true.

Super Bowl 52 is four years away but it’s okay to dream early in the game.

Snowflakes lazily falling in the frosty pre-game air is the image that comes to me. It clears to a crisp sublime Super Bowl Sunday. Tailgaters grill and excitement swells as the game is about to start.

There’s pleasant escape in dreaming. Anything that sharpens the focus or revs up interest adds to the end result of enjoyment put in and received. There are 1356 days to February 4, 2018 if we begin to dream now.

Closer in, the Twin Cities and the Minnesota Twins play host this summer to major league baseball’s All-Star game. The action is July 15, 2014 at Target Field, Minneapolis.

Ro Giencke – May 20, 2014


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dance of Spring

The dance of spring continues in our Northland. It’s a strange dance this year.

The past weekend was mild. It led us to believe spring was at last falling in step with us. 

We figured it was heeding, none too soon, our desire to get to the warm weather. We're so ready to put the gray, wet, cool days behind us.

Our hopes, rising on the weekend tease of good weather, cooled as quickly as the jet stream which followed. 

A punch of air from Canada is keeping us below average this week by several degrees.

Average temperatures are high 60s. We’d give plenty for a seventy-degree day. We can only imagine it as we hunker down for the dash to the Memorial Day holiday.  

Temperatures not compliant with our wishes, we scout out other ways to feel the assurance of spring.

Greening is well underway. The grass is what we’re really noticing, but the tiny leaves on the trees are starting to unfurl.

Last week the leafing was barely perceptible. Branches wore their buds like miniature gloves.

A boxelder tree on my driving route last week was the exception. 

The boxelder struck me as one who hurries and dresses as if for a party that, at no costs, it wants to miss.

As useless a tree as people declare boxelders to be, let’s give the tree its due. It was decked out in green well ahead of the rest.

In other signs of spring, lakes are open and the boats are out. Plentiful rain has caused creeks to rush along. High water levels are turning lakes, or some bays of lakes, into no-wake zones.

This doesn’t impact sailboats, which have been on the lakes since ice-out. Sails create a calming effect as you take them in. Sails are one of my favorite sights on the lakes.

This is the time of year when every day brings change in nature. You have to look quickly or miss it. It’s like our apricot tree.

The apricot tree in our yard is in blossom. I watch for it every year.

Last week the apricot buds were negligible. You needed a microscope to ascertain they were there.

If you made a point of seeing them you could. They were like baby pink marshmallows on a lollipop stick. One moment barely discernible, the next they’re an image of glory. 

The concentrated blossoming is like a cupful of pink kernels popped in the air popper. These popped to perfection.

The apricot blooms are magnificent. They’re pinkish white, large and cottony. You could mistake them for a perfect batch of popcorn.

The blooming almost always happens behind our backs. You turn away and the miracle of blossoming is there on our return.

Outside scenes daily evolve into the fuller state of the season. Buds become leaves, goslings paddle behind their parents on the ponds and blue robin eggs hatch in their nests.

Everywhere you look there’s something to note that lifts the heart.

Sunny days, which have evened out the periods of rain, are made for doing and appreciating. 

Yard work is going on at our place. There’s raking and picking up of twigs and branches. Shaping up the garden for planting is underway.

Residential blocks are brightened by the plants from the nurseries coming home with us.

Lilacs, on the other hand, are absent. They’re another of the seasonal blooms with a late start.  We often have the fragrance of their blooms by Mother’s Day but they held off this year.

The lilac bushes, however, are greening right along. The blooms will be here shortly, and with them their intoxicating scent.

Even as we dig in the soil or hang our pots or put out the wind chimes the joy for some of us is more than the present satisfaction of being in touch with nature.

Spring then gets to be, as much as anything, dreaming and planning for summer. 

This is certainly true for those of us who thrive on heat, days of long light and change of activity pace.

Green-up time in Minnesota is precious. It’s short-lived and this adds to the sense of the season running through our fingers.

The dance of spring deepens into the profound loveliness of summer.

With that said, there’s never the first gentle aspect of tender spreading softness in nature as it makes known to us in May. 

Ro Giencke – May 14, 2014


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Mary, Undoer of Knots

In the entry of a church we visited recently an easel with a picture of Mary on it stood to the side.

Mary, mother of Jesus, is venerated in the Catholic Church as our heavenly mother and one who intercedes for us as we take our prayers to her.

Many Catholic churches have statues and other representations of Mary. The picture of Mary on its easel wasn’t enough to catch my full attention but the caption below it did.

I moved in closer to read it. I’m a sucker for anything in print. The caption said: "Mary Undoer of Knots." And that did have my interest.

The phrase had me immediately. It created a domestic scene in my head. It was so easy to picture Mary patiently undoing the knots that come along, as they will in life.

There she is, head bent over handwork in her lap, perhaps seated in the open doorway where she can both apply her needle and keep an eye on Jesus at play. 

She looks up for a moment – maybe to see where her son is – and goes back to her patching or hemming to find an unexpected knot in the thread as she mends his pants or Joseph’s shirt.

Undoer of Knots is one of many descriptions for Mary. These descriptions, or titles, are ways to make her role as Mother of God more understandable to us. 

They depict her holiness and teach us her generous care, which she shows for each of us.

The title Undoer of Knots has timeless appeal. Mary was a woman of her era and time. We can think of her in that time limited scope if the larger role the Church has for Mary doesn’t fit with our idea of Jesus’ mother.

As a wife and mother she had a job to do and tasks to perform. It was much like it is for us today. 

As marriage partner/ parent / manager of the household needs she undid the knots in front of her, whatever they may have been.

She did this by quietly listening or offering her thoughts to help her family see their way to addressing their doubts or solving their quandaries. 

She did the same for others who might have come to her with small problems that arose from time to time.

Life consistently throws curve balls at us. It has often looking for someone who can help when we’re in over our heads. We’re eased by having someone quietly by who knows our score.

Peaceful attentive companionship redirects our energy positively. It can allow us to find resolution to our problems. Mary, in the title Undoer of Knots, gives comfort. Here is one willing to assist with our knots.

All of us are Undoers of Knots in our relationships, and wherever we spend our time and have our interests. 

We bend to a matter, or listen carefully and respectfully, when someone comes to us with a situation that requires adjustment or a little fixing.

As we untangle and sort out minor problems, whether our own or those of others to whom we give active help, we learn a kind of humility. Through patience and practice we follow Mary’s model for service.

In lending a hand to another we realize the grace that accompanies helping someone. We get a deeper understanding of the beautiful connotation of Undoer of Knots as a title for Mary.  

Mothers formed my first mental images as I thought about the meaning of Undoer of Knots. Mary first, and then my mom.

Many impressions from my childhood are of Mom fixing one problem or another. They weren’t sticky, messy issues but they stand out. Her attention was healing balm on vexing situations or tearful moments.

Sometimes the knot was undone with a Band-aid and a kiss. Other times the fixing was cookies fresh out of the oven.

The fixing was also in something as prosaic as neatly darned socks. Holes in socks were darned then. 

Mending was an endless work loop for a mom with a big family. A drawerful of mended socks told of a mother's love and vigilance toward her family's welfare. 

Mom’s undoing of knots always put back on its feet whatever (even so slightly) was in need of an assist.

Undoer of Knots is a phrase that attaches to my brother as well. His training in fixing knots came early. 

He was Grandpa’s fishing buddy. Grandpa put some magnificent backlashes into his fishing reel when he fished the river. Luckily my brother was along, both to row the boat and to untie Grandpa’s snarled lines. 

Grandpa tried to repay him. The jingle of coins extracted from his pockets was treat money at the store for his pleased grandson.

My brother’s skill with undoing knots bailed me out too. I had jewelry with chains that kinked no matter how carefully they were set back after use. 

This one time a dainty gold chain I took out to wear was a snarled mass. It was a great relief to turn the chain over to him.

I’m sure my brother got me out of other jewelry jams. He worked at anything that was given him until the knot loosened. He had the patience of a saint to untangle any snarl.

I did some looking up about devotion to Mary under the title Undoer of Knots. It appears that Pope Francis is part of the reason for its spread.

The charismatic Pope, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in South America, bought a postcard of the painting "Mary Untier of Knots" in the 1980s. The original hangs in a church in Bavaria and is well known.

The Argentine Jesuit priest brought the postcard home with him. It was his intent to make Mary under this title more widely known on his continent. Marian devotion to Mary, Undoer of Knots continues to grow. 

It can remind us that our small problems, which seem to effortlessly reseed themselves like weeds, are never too big or too little to have someone who cares. 

Ro Giencke- May 7, 2014