Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,
Steven
unzeugmatic

The Twin Cities as Cotswold Village

I don't know if I would have gotten around to checking out the Saint Paul Farmer's market if my Morris team hadn't danced at their main location in downtown St. Paul. There's a fine huge farmer's market in Minneapolis, after all, which is much closer to where I live and where I've found many fine foods in the past. But it turns out that the markets are different. The St. Paul Farmer's market requires that what is sold be grown or produced within a certain radius of St. Paul, so the food is all local. This means there are no exotic or out-of-season vegetables, but it also means that the market itself, which is manageably small, adheres to the traditional Farmer's Market movement philosophy of locally grown and locally produced goods. The other week I got some of the first snow peas of the season, and there was lots of rhubarb and asparagus of fine quality for much lower prices than you find in the supermarkets. The dairy that produces the unhomogenized milk and good thick cream that I purchase at the health food store sells its wares there, as does a local producer of amazing artisan sheep's milk cheese. I bought some bunches of young fresh spinach, dirt clinging to the stems, which I cooked and used to make a nice quiche with the free-range blue and green and brown eggs I also purchased at the market. Last weekend I made myself some scrambled eggs with the intensely-yellow free-range eggs, the fresh young spinach, and some young sheep's milk chevre. The flavors were alive on my tongue.

My Morris team has also led me to various small parks and neighborhood events that would otherwise have remained unknown to me. I am surprised at how many of these events there are, and how many seem suitable as places for our team to dance.

Team member Andy lives in the small neighborhood of Prospect Park, on the Minneapolis/St. Paul border. Prospect Park itself includes one of the highest hills in the cities, and there is a huge water tower atop this hill that is open to the public only one evening a year, the night of the Prospect Park Ice Cream Social, where we danced the other week. Some of our team members played and danced a jig at the top of the tower, and then we danced for a long time in front of the long line of people waiting to climb the tower. They were an appreciative, if captive audience. Then we walked down the hill to the playground and ice cream area and danced some more.

Until recently, team musician Jim lived in St. Anthony Park, which celebrates the Fourth of July holiday with a large neighborhood event that's like something out of Norman Rockwell in the America that Never Was. A parade wends its way through the neighborhood to the park. There are pony rides and tennis games and relay races all afternoon, and a bandshell where, among other things, local elementary school students read essays on citizenship. For the last few years Ramsey's Braggarts has set up a shelter and a barbecue area (in this we are not alone) and held a picnic, stopping now and then to dance around the park.

This year on the Fouth of July we'll be having our barbecue and dancing at a block party in St. Paul in the neighborhood of team members Matt and Deb.

Last week we danced at Veteran's Park in Bloomington, just south of Minneapolis, where a local Montessori school attended by three children of our team members was holding its last-day-of-school picnic. Two of the children who attend the school are the six-year-old twins who dance with us. They definitely impressed their classmates.

We dance in front of the Lake Harriet bandshell before the Minnesota Freedom Band plays its annual Pride concert; we'll be there next Monday. We have danced in Rice Park, in front of the Ordway in downtown St. Paul, as the theatergoers arrive. We dance at the Mayday Festival in Powderhorn Park, and we've danced at the Sculpture Garden outside the Guthrie theater. Last year, on the night of the Harry Potter book release parties, we danced at the Birchwood Bookstore, which is owned by the writer Louise Erdrich. Over the years we've danced at Lake Nokomis, at the Rose Garden near Lake Calhoun, on the campus of Macalester College at the end of finals week, at the small park overlooking the Mississippi where Grand Avenue meets River Road, at the Como Park Zoo, and at Mounds Park. We've danced at Peevey Plaza in front of Orchestra Hall, at the St. Paul Saints game, and in front of Izzy's Ice Cream. It's a full spring for us.

Tomorrow we're meeting up with Minnesota Traditional Morris, the other all-male local Morris Side, at Great Waters Brewpub in St. Paul. The outside tables of Great Waters are next to a theater, so we try to arrange to be dancing when folks come out at intermission. They wind up looking appropriately amazed.

It often happens that people ask me where they can see me dance, in a tone that implies that they are imagining a specific stage and performance time. All I can say is to look for us around the cities in the months of May, June, and July. This notion confuses people somewhat, even though I do my best to note general times and places.

Get out and about, folks. You never know what you might see.
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