So I need a column idea for this week. If only something had happened around here last week that I could write about ..... hmmm ....
I know! The Park Point Art Fair. We stopped there last weekend to experience the wide variety of fish woven from dryer lint, foggy snapshots of Split Rock Lighthouse, and livestock made out of spare parts from the railroad tracks. We even supported the economic well-being of an artist by purchasing one of her very cool cat lawn ornaments. But attendance at this annual event seemed to be down for some reason.
We didn’t have to fight the usual crowds as we wandered through the rather silly-named Art Fair Food Court (as if the six vendors of smoothies, gyros, and kettle corn were representative of some medieval Camelot-inspired fairy tale land). Wonder where everyone was … you’d think they had a community to fix or something.
Well, of course, they did. The devastation from last week’s flood has been well-documented by others more eloquent, and with far more picture-taking and Facebook-posting ability, than I.
We had stories from the zoo that ran the gamut from heartbreaking (the barnyard animals), to heroic (two seals that experienced that brief, yet sweet, taste of freedom!) to terrifying (how would you like to have been the guy who discovered he was standing in the middle of a pitch-black, flooded zoo at four o’clock in the morning and the polar bear was OUT of her enclosure?). Not to mention all the buckled streets, the car-swallowing sinkholes, and the mudslides that turned lush, green hillsides to chunks of brown stew.
Sue, Kaylee, and I walked around our West Duluth neighborhood the day after the rains, and it soon became apparent how lucky we were to escape the wrath of that angry water as it plowed through town on its way to Lake Superior.
Some of our neighbors had wide paths of gunky, matted grass in their front lawns, indicating how, just hours before, their houses had been literal “islands in the stream.” (They’ll probably never be able to listen to Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton again.)
Alleys and driveways had been turned to miniature Grand Canyons, plastic buckets of water were being tossed out side doors, and there was a chilling, apocalyptic feeling as we wandered up an abandoned Haines Road to see complete hunks of half-a-highway obliterated, as if the Hulk had been pounding his way up to the mall for a new pair of tight purple pants from Marvel-crombie & Fitch.
At one point, two carfuls of laughing, idiotic teenagers came creeping down, ignoring the “Road Closed” signs that were posted up above on Skyline Parkway. I don’t know where they thought they were going, but it did give us a chuckle when we saw where they ended up.
As I viewed the wreckage first-hand, and then again on the news and various social media, I was humbled — and a bit frightened — to be reminded how much the earth simply allows all of us to be here.
We go through our lives and arrogantly believe that we are in control, but if Mother Nature really wanted to, she could take us all out in an instant. And there would be nothing any one of us could do about it.
Yeesh. I think I need another cute cat lawn ornament.
Brian Matuszak has been difficult and demanding since February 2008. He is the co-founder of Renegade Comedy Theatre, founder of Rubber Chicken Theater, and doesn’t want to cause a panic, but did we ever hear where the zoo’s lions, tigers, and grizzly bears ended up? Oh, my ….