Thursday, August 21, 2008

Getting Away

Enjoy life!
by Charlie Leck

A friend emails me some advice.
“So be yourself and enjoy life. Stop worrying about everyone else’s ass and you’ll be a lot happier and live longer!”
I expect he’s correct. He senses a rising intensity in my blogs. He is correct. I can feel it. The campaign is going to build to absolute ugliness. I got sucked into it in one of my blogs early in the week and I cited a video that was a fraud – seriously altered and faked. I need time away and time to think about some of the wonders in life.

I’m making a pledge. I’m not going to write about the campaign, politics, social ills or national and international crisis for the next week. I’m aware that Obama is about to name a running mate! I won’t comment on it! Yes, yes, I know that the economy is showing more signs of weakening and inflation is starting to raise its ugly head. And science test scores came in at an all-time low for Minnesota high school students. A couple of major criminal trials are opening in St. Paul. I’m not even going to read about them. And yes, the Democratic National Convention opens within this one week period. So what?

I’ll write each day for the next week, but only about my little walks through life’s rose gardens. You can expect a damn dam to burst on Friday, 29 August.

I’ll tell you what. I’m going back to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum – it’s less than a half-hour from here – and I’m going to smell the roses and enjoy myself to the core. I’m also going to visit with a young chocolate Labrador and see if we get on well together. Then, I’m going to take my camera and wander around our wonderful town and take photographs as the sun is rising.

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is a wonderful place and, my, how it’s grown over the years both in size and popularity. Right now they have an interesting summer exhibition called Treeology. We wandered along the mile and one-half mile trail on Sunday and made all the stops along the way and read every word. I was particularly attracted to the display about “Ash Anxiety” that explains an impending disaster for our state’s ash tree. No, no! I won’t go there. I am not going to pay attention to any of these crisis situations in the next week – not even the impending ash crisis.

On my visit to the arboretum today, I’ll visit the rose gardens. It’s late in the year and they’ve lost their most glorious look, but they’re still spectacular – sort of like an older, beautiful woman.
And, speaking of old, there is a spectacular, old Burr oak tree right behind the Marion Andrus Learning Center and I’ll revisit it and wonder again how anything so massive can be so beautiful. It’s approximately 60 feet tall and has a spreading canopy of about 90 feet. They’ve pegged its age at 225 years. Can you imagine? It began as a simple acorn that managed to evade hungry birds, mice and squirrels. This massive oak grew up in what was dubbed by French explorers as the bois grand – the Big Woods – a dense forest that covered more than 2,000 squares miles in southern Minnesota. As the tree matured, the only humans who might have seen it in those early years were members of the Medwakanton and Wahpeton bands of the Dakota Sioux. The earliest settlers, including my wife’s family, came to this region in the mid-1800s and they began to clear the giant hardwood trees to make room to farm. Fortunately, this big, ancient oak escaped the axe and saw and continues to stand as a sentinel over the arboretum grounds.

Being near the Marion Andrus building will make me think of this wonderful woman again and I’ll thank the Lord that I knew her. Someday I will write a blog about her and her husband, two of the dearest people I’ve ever known.

I’ll take a tram ride (the Trumpet Creeper Tram) through the grounds, too. There’s over 2,000 acres of Arboretum property and it’s impossible to see everything, so I’ll just see what I can, I’ll smell the roses and, oh yes, I’ll have a delightful little lunch in the wonderful restaurant out there.

Then, this weekend I’ll try to play two rounds of golf and I absolutely will not get upset about any single bad shot I hit. Not once!

And, you know, the Minnesota State Fair begins today. I think I’m going to find a way over there in the next couple of days and enjoy a day of walking around and looking at all the things the children wouldn’t let me look at when they were little. It’s the second largest state fair in America, you know. Getting there is the question. Parking is god-awful over there. If the state had only built more light-rail into more parts of the city, it would be simple. It has been an absolute forfeiture of responsibility on their part not to provide this convenience for…. Oops, there I go again. You must have some sympathy. This is really difficult.

No crisis today, Fred. I’m out of the business for a week; however, who do you think will run with Obama? I’m betting the announcement comes today (Thursday, 21 August).

The photos at the head of this blog were taken on our last visit to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum by my daughter, Cynthia L. Leck. The photo on the right was taken through a “teleidescope” – a combination of telescope and kaleidoscope – pointing upwards toward the sky through the leaves and branches of a dense tree.


  1. charlie, so glad that you're going to dial down the blood pressure a little. we* worried for a short time last week, because you're thought of as the voice of thoughful moderation...yeah. enjoy a valium, smell the apricots and welcome home the new brown puppy...
    then, let them have it.

  2. Thanks, old fella... I'm on my way to the Food Coop now. I'll see if I can get some fresh apricots. I've avoided the newspaper today and broadast news as well. I reread a lovely little memoir by Patricia Hample this morning and glanced up occasionally to see the wind wildly whipping through the treetops. Keep coming to the blog. Knowing you read it keeps me honest and makes me work harder. Chas