I drive along Dowling, a busy avenue in my North Minneapolis neighborhood. As I travel the ten blocks I know like my own hands, a quote swirls through my brain.
Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.
Small doings are in plain sight, but repetition has killed the landscape for me. I gaze at my surroundings now, resurrecting them. I want to see again.
More than a decade ago, the shoe repair shop with the clever sign—“We can heel you and save your sole”—at Dowling and Fremont vanished, leaving behind a blank plot of land. Today a man and woman, bent like twin hairpins, work the piece of earth where the shop once stood. It’s not an established community garden, but they till it up each spring anyway, hiding their vegetable seeds in the fresh furrows. The City isn’t onto them yet, or else the lot would lie fallow again. I want to clap for them, cheer for their success in bringing food from nothing right in the middle of everything.
I roll on. Another farmer tends her property. But what is she doing? I’m happy for the red light, so I can see more. She lugs a watering can to the sidewalk in front of her house and sprinkles the length of one crack, then the next. Did she plant seeds between the slabs of concrete? Or is she nurturing the weeds that sprout from the gaps? I forget I have a passenger in my car—it’s Dicka today—and she’s watching the careful irrigation of cement too. She laughs, and the light turns green.
A block further, a three-legged pit bull hops along the sidewalk at the end of a leash, tongue dangling from his smile, his human affixed to the other end. The man’s strides are slow, matching those of his animal. I’ve seen that dog before—and his man—and those two own each other. The leash is just a formality society demands, because their affection would hold them together just fine.
Food coaxed from city ground. A drink for the cracks. Love on both ends of a tether. My ten blocks have cheered me today. And my eyes are open now.
What about yours?
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*Names in this blog have been changed to protect my family, neighbors, and friends in the neighborhood, and in a nod of appreciation to the beloved Swedish author Maj Lindman, I’ve renamed my three blondies Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka.