Minnesota


The last few weeks have brought a world of differences to many of us — a new physical view from the inside looking out; a new vocabulary that includes medical terms of pandemics, viruses, curves, ventilators, and COVID-19; an appreciation for things that previously we’d taken for granted; and a feeling that the world’s turned upside down.  With the barrage of news and seemingly constant updates it’s hard to look too far forward.  Like many, I’m trying to take things one day at a time.  Today the sun is shining and there are signs of spring outside my windows.  The birds are migrating back into our area and their calling hangs in the air.  There are people walking in the neighborhood and soaking up the sun’s warmth.  There’s a young girl that’s riding her small bike next to her dad who is running; they’re chatting and singing as they go by.  Sometime ahead the tulips will be blooming here in Minnesota.  Somewhere ahead, the struggling and the uncertainty we’re dealing with now will be behind us.  Somewhere ahead I’m hoping we will have learned lessons from this time; perhaps we’ll appreciate the beauty all around us – in nature, in family, and the people we interact with.  And somewhere ahead I’m hoping our world will no longer seem to be upside down, but instead will be more kind.

The past two weeks have humbled me quite unexpectedly.  I took a bad slip on a frozen sidewalk and landed on my right leg and ankle.  A ride with the EMT’s took me to the local trauma hospital’s emergency room and a set of x-rays were taken.  Turned out I’d dislocated the ankle and had a trimalleolar fracture with breaks in three bones.  Surgery was scheduled the next day and I came out with plates, screws, wires and lots of hardware holding all those bones together.  Yesterday the plaster splint was removed and I got to see the results of the good surgeon’s work.  Luckily the breaks are healing and the stitches on both sides of my ankle were removed.  I’m now in a boot keeping my ankle immobile, but I cannot put any weight on the foot.  I’ve learned many lessons in these two weeks and some that I’m still learning.  Patience and slowing down are essential now — I couldn’t rush to do anything if I wanted to.  I’m unable to put any weight on my right leg, so I’m reliant on the walker to give me the support I need when I’m upright.  Friends and family are wonderful — flowers, phone calls, text messages, gifts, food, and visits have all brightened my days and given me something else to focus on.  I appreciate our medical system, doctors, nurses, assistants, PCA’s, EMT’s — I’ve been treated and taken care of by people who were smart, experienced, knowledgeable, and kind.  People who saw to my comfort and needs as they were dealing with many other patients too.  Yes, I’m not happy with the broken leg and the distant horizon of the end of May before I can walk “normally.”   But the past two weeks have given me a different perspective on the things that I have taken for granted so many times in the past – something as simple as walking, getting outside to enjoy the fresh air, and the people who I am lucky enough to call family and friends.

We are in the midst of the coolest celebration on earth – the Saint Paul Winter Carnival.  One of my favorite events to attend is the snow sculptures.  Teams work for hours taking a huge block of compacted snow and cutting and carving and sculpting it into a work of art.  In years past I’ve only seen the sculptures after they were completed, but this year I decided to take in the actual carving.  I found some teams with elaborate hand drawn sketches and plans for their sculpture, and other teams that had small dolls or toys that they were using for their design.  The tools, measurements, and time that go into these works of art is amazing.   The temperatures have been warmer than usual which created some challenges for the sculpting but the end results are always amazing.

The end of 2019 brought a beautiful fresh snowfall to Minnesota and Wisconsin.  What started out as sleet and rain ended as three to four inches of snow that clung to the wet branches and leaves.  Our surroundings became a true winter wonderland.  Without a strong wind and with temperatures below freezing, we celebrated the start of a new year surrounded by this beauty.  The setting sun through the winter forest brought a stream of golden light onto the frozen pond in front of me.  I stood here for awhile, marveling at the light blue tinted snow and the golden sun piercing through the trees.  Quickly the sun moved further below the horizon and the moment was over, replaced with the dark of night and a canopy of bright stars overhead.

The snow of winter has a way of draping its white over everything.  The trees become lined emphasizing their structure and branches.  The ground becomes white showing the curves and hips of hills.  At the University of Minnesota Saint Paul campus is a wonderful sculpture setting of cows.  These bigger than life animals are resting peacefully in their urban setting.  The snow has draped over them also, quietly emphasizing their repose and seeming indifference to the weather.  They’re a great reminder to me to accept the weather, accept the snow, and appreciate its beauty.

It was a cool fall day as I drove past the last farmer’s market of the season and I couldn’t pass it up.  There was plenty of squash, apples, and all the cold-weather veggies available, but my eyes went straight for some colorful dahlias – probably the last ones of the season.  Their burst of color was a welcome sight and I knew there wouldn’t be anything else flowering until next spring.  They have brightened the house and caught my eye as I passed through the room they were in, each time being thankful for this one last bouquet of the fall.

Fall is here in all its glory!  The yellows, golds, oranges, and reds, all aglow against a dark stormy sky but lit up by a short-lived stream of sunlight, and reflected in the quiet and still waters of the lake.  This is the beauty we look forward to every year in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

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