Some happenings in July…

Kathur made an unexpected trip into town and visited me. As a result, the sound-dampening carpet on my door (which lets out into a sometimes-noisy stairwell) got cleaned for the first time… ever? We dropped by the Bell Museum and discovered a cool hanging plant-pot of sorts which you could stick you head into. Also: termites put a lot of work into the thermal regulation of their hives, it's something worth thinking about.
And then I moved out of that room! When I first moved into the Coop, I'd been ramblin' about sleeping on so many different couches and floors for so long that I couldn't bring myself to move into the room immediately. My first night at the house, I walked out the door around 11PM and spent the night on a couch in my office on campus. Then I spent the next week on the living room couch. Although I eventually did move into this room, I never really unpacked or beautified it. It was a Room of Transition. I'll let you know what becomes of my new quarters.
I take C.P and Mirta from the Coop climbing in St. Paul. We get out to the trees kind of late and then I have difficulty getting the throw line over the branch I want. Mirta asks if she can try it and promptly gets it snuggly wrapped around a branch. As a result, I end up using a slackline as both a throwling and throw weight on a much less aggressively high branch. We get the weight down and swap through the tree, but there's not enough time to do anything too adventurous.

R.D.'s wedding was in mid-July: the first of Tegal's roommates to get married. Months and months before the wedding, in February, Danifen called me up and suggested that we should dance and I'd said maybe because, after all, I meant to spend July in England. But, the night before the wedding, it became apparent that my plan to be on the other side of the ocean wasn't going to work out and that there are very few excuses for missing a friend's wedding. Accordingly, I bought a bus ticket at 1AM, woke up at 6:30AM, packed, walked down the block, and caught the 7:30AM from Duluth. Transfered in downtown Minneapolis, bused north to St. Cloud, and got breakfast at the Perkin's there at 8:30AM. At about 11AM, someone Danifen knew gave me a call, and I caught a ride with them up to the backwaters of Minnesota, from whence the vibrant R.D. hails.

The wedding was significant to me because it tipped a balance: I have now been to as many weddings (discounting one when I was three, of which I remember little) as funerals, or so I think.

R.D. tells me that her family skeptically asked her if that was one of the ushers, when I climbed out of the car wearing a hiking backpack and clothes suitable for long-distance travel. "No," she replied, "that's Richard." Of the peope that know me, there's one group that's always surprised (hopefully pleasantly, as R.D. was) when I show up and the group that's never surprised—they expect the unexpected.

The dance afterwards, in a park pavillion nearby, was rife with swing music and line dances. But it turned out to be so hot and humid that Danifen and I only got in a couple of swing dances before we were both tired.

For three years, Tegal, Danifen, A.L., and R.D. welcomed me up to Duluth, trips which buoyed my spirits, helped me break out of city-bound unhappiness, and for which I'm so grateful. Who knows when I'll see them all in one place again? I ended up catching a ride back to Minneapolis with the wedding photographer. On the way he told me how their church in Minneapolis keeps growing and either loosing their spaces or needing large ones. As a result, the church's meeting place has been drifting out of the metro and into the suburbs. He expressed regret because it made it difficult for him to support the church's outreach in neighbourhoods so far from his own. When I hear people speak of cities as lacking community, I always question that assumption: community becomes a distributed and specialised phenomena in cities. You don't always live near your community or communities, but can an institution such as a church act in such a distributed way? I'm not sure.
The Coop is in constant need of maintenance and we spend perhaps a weekend or two per season doing just that. This was the first time I'd made it up onto the roof and, to be honest, the thing it reminded me of the most was a glacier. The roof turned out to be a garishly bright white and set in to burning our skin and eyes the moment we set foot on it.

This didn't stop my new roommate, Nelaf, and I from doing a bit of sweeping nor did it prevent Mirta and I from trying to dance.

"Put your foot there…"

In search of adventure, Alim, Namig, E., and I repaired to a swamp south of Shakopee. Reliable rumour had it that somewhere within the swamp a gratuitously large glacial erratic with decent bouldering lay waiting. The boulder itself was said to be on dry land, but the trail there would be… interesting.

When we arrived, we discovered that the swamp had flooded during the recent rains and the trail had, in fact, disappeared. But, no matter!

The water was brown and murky. At first, I could feel the gravel and sharp rocks of the trail beneath my bare feet. But, as we went deeper in to the swamp, it all became ooze and mud intermixed with water-logged reeds.

At one point, I climbed onto a log and discovered a leech the size of my little toe latched onto my big toe. The silly thing had gone for the callus and I pulled it off, flinging it away.
Which is when I noticed fifty or so small, brown leaches which were all trying to attach themselves, waving wildly in the air. These were more difficult to pick off, so I just ground them into a mush with my thumb.

A river wends through the swamp and we made of the bridge passing over it, now an island surrounded by water and muck on all sides. Beyond the bridge, the water got deeper and deeper and it became apparent we would not make it to the boulder without getting really wet, something which wouldn't be good for the climbing equipment.

So we turned around and slogged back.

But the day was still young, so we went in search of another adventure.

And found it in suburban Shakopee. Back through dense undergrowth, we found a shallow litte pond, with some oddly coloured circles of sand. But, when we got a twelve-foot log and stuck it down into one, it kept going and going… and never came back up.

Quicksand? The ROUSs couldn't be far behind.

We finished out the day by visiting some of Namig's favourite blackberry-picking spots. The first two were barren, but the last, on an abandoned rail line (!) was a little gold mine of berry-goodness.

Check if this is a private message just for Richard:

JP - Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 17:55:52 (PDT)
I went in that quicksand today...freaking awesome