Today, I love Walking in the Winter.
Although I typically bike to work, I walked to work for most of January. I have had a bad run of it for a while and one day I was very angry. I needed a way to process some of that so I walked home from work. Then the next day I walked again. That first walk resulted in nearly two straight weeks of walking. The walk is four miles from West 7th Street and Otto Avenue in Saint Paul, near the Mississippi Market, to Kellogg Boulevard and Robert Street.
Starting point. Here is my house with my Saint Paul flag. Saint Paul had a flag design contest in 1932. Gladys Mittle, a St. Kate’s student, won $150 for her design which is $2,412 today. Not a bad haul! It features a log cabin, the capitol building, and a wheel with wings which is perhaps a nod to the automotive industry, but I like to think of it as St. Catherine’s Wheel.
Clear sidewalks. Walking in the winter is easier when sidewalks are shoveled. My neighbors do a pretty good job of clearing their sidewalks.
Quiet. Walking in the winter is quieter than walking in the summer. Perhaps it is because of the insulation provided by the snow. Perhaps it is because no one is around, especially at 6:45 a.m. West 7th Street has a lot of neon signs.
Shop windows. I recently moved to the neighborhood from Hamline-Midway. There is no better way to learn an area than by walking. Walking is slower than just about any other transportation choice so one gets to appreciate all the little things along the way. When I bike I tend to avoid commercial thoroughfares, like West 7th, so I see houses rather than shops. Skinny Santa looks like he’s ready for a vacation – perhaps a bike tour as evidenced by the bicycle next to him.
Eerie. Walking in the early morning can be a little eerie, but in a good way. Moisture in the air and cold temperatures make things look different than they do during the day or in warmer weather. This is the Schmidt Brewery. I wonder when they turn the Schmidt sign on and off? It is on when I walk home.
Triangle parks. West 7th Street is a diagonal, overlaid on a grid system. There are lots of these triangular parks where the streets meet West 7th. This one has odd limestone sculptures (?).
Danger. Here is a memorial to a Kunlek Wangmo, a woman who was killed crossing West 7th at Saint Clair Avenue in October. Because of its diagonal placement vis à vis the grid systems some intersections have five entrance points, making crossing difficult. Ms. Wangmo apparently tripped and then was run over.
Early morning businesses. This is the busiest corner on my walk. The crossfit place is next door to a laundry mat that opens at 6 a.m. There are usually a lot of people working out and doing laundry, maybe at the same time. I think people who drive to gyms to work out are strange, but they would probably thing it is strange that I walk to work in 15 degree weather.
More shops. This is an antique store near downtown. This display is Winter Carnival paraphernalia. I love the Saint Paul Winter Carnival. It encapsulates what I love about Saint Paul – it is disorganized, the website information is never entirely accurate which lends it a sense of adventure. You may plan to attend a puppet show at the Landmark Center with your children, but you get there and find no puppets, only a blanket toss. Once I was at the Torch Light Parade and, in addition to candy, people were throwing used casino card decks to children. Ouch! One needs to accept things and enjoy them as they are. Like Saint Paul, the Winter Carnival encourages are certain sense of serendipity.
Fun. Walking in the winter can be fun.
Downtown Saint Paul. If you do not ever go to your Twin City, please do. We have a beautiful downtown. Minneapolis tore down a lot of its older buildings in the 1950s and 1960s as part of ill-planned urban renewal projects, but Saint Paul did not. We still have our beautiful old buildings with gargoyles and nifty fonts. Many of the streets are cobblestone, too. Rice Park (on the left in this picture) is great.
Home stretch. This is the last block before I get to work. The sun is coming up, I am warm from activity, and the park is beautiful.
Read about this collaborative challenge to love one thing about winter everyday in February, and post about it on this blog. Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls, or check out last year's #lovemnwinter posts.