Down By The Riverside…

I’m gonna lay down that atom bomb
Down by the riverside down by the riverside
Down by the riverside
I’m gonna lay down that atom bomb
Down by the riverside study war no more

I ain’t gonna study war no more
Ain’t gonna study war no more
Pete Seeger

Hug me, squeeze me, love me, tease me
‘Til I can’t, ’til I can’t, ’til I can’t take no more of it
Take me to the water, drop me in the river
Push me in the water, drop me in the river
Washing me down, washing me down
Al Green via Talking Heads

Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden

Eloise Butler was born on a farm in Maine in 1851. In 1874, she moved to Minneapolis to teach botany and took her students on field trips “botanizing”. In 1907, she persuaded the Minneapolis Park Board to set aside three acres for a wild botanical garden. After 36 years of teaching she retired and became the curator of the garden. In 1924, she spent $700 of her own money to expand the garden to a five acre fenced off area. The garden was re-named the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden in her honor in 1927. She died at 81 tending the garden.

A mushroom the size of a volleyball!

Art and Food on a Saturday

This week was all about art and food. The Seward Cafe opened in 1974, and was a neighborhood institution when I first visited in 1983. We used to go spend our Sunday mornings there reading the paper and devouring delicious buckwheat pancakes and creative egg concoctions. It is a cooperative with an anarchist bent. You fill out your own orders, get your own water and coffee, pick up your order at the window, and bus your own dishes. Everybody working together. Sometimes there is music in the evening and there is always art on the walls. This week the artist was Mollierae and her art was going for $600 and up. These are a couple that I liked. (click for larger image).

And of course, there was also creative bathroom art.

From there we headed over to the Walker Art Museum which was exhibiting the works of Pacita Abad. We were all impressed with her work. The brochure describes her as “Philippine-born artist, globally inspired masks, portrayals of immigrant life, and dazzling underwater scenes”. The walls were covered in huge tapestries. Some were celebratory and made me happy.

Some were disturbing and powerful. Some were just fun. She traveled and lived all over the world and immigrated to the USA, so her art is multicultural. She also saw the USA through the immigrant lens which was not always pretty. One powerful tapestry was called Flight to Freedom from a series called Cambodian Refugee.

Another one that struck me was called “I Thought the Streets Were Paved With Gold”. Apparently a quote she came across on a trip to Ellis Island inspired this work: “I came to America because I heard the streets were paved with gold. When I got here, I found out three things: First, the streets weren’t paved with gold; second, they weren’t paved at all; and third, I was expected to pave them.” I have come across several people in my own travels who believed the streets of the United States were paved with gold. I tried to tell them this was far from true, but they held on to their image.

I found this octopus especially whimsical —

You can see Pacita Abad’s work at:
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis: April 15–September 3, 2023
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: October 21, 2023–January 28, 2024
MoMA PS1, New York: April 4–September 2, 2024
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto: October 12, 2024–January 19, 2025

Afterwards, we went for a drive around the lakes taking in the natural beauty of the day and ended up at a burger joint. A multicultural, multi eventful, all American day….

The North Woods

The Superior Hiking Trail runs 300 miles along the ridge line above Lake Superior from the southern edge of the lake to the Canadian border. The trail is managed by the Superior Hiking Trail Association (SHTA), located in Two Harbors, Minnesota. It can be accessed along the way from about 50 trailheads. Besides the Superior Hiking Trail there are several State Parks and the Superior National Forest where hiking trails abound.

The Superior National Forest is known for the million-acre remote Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness bordering on Canada.

We hiked along a small portion of the SHT, drove along the Gunflint Trail in the Superior National Forest, and explored the George Crosby Manitou State Park. The Crosby Manitou is a backpack only park with primitive campsites. Other parks in the area include Cascade River State Park, Temperance River State Park, Tettegouche State Park, Gooseberry Falls State Park, the Finland State Forest, and Judge C.R. Magney State Park.

The first day we took a hike along a part of the SHT and at one point came to a spot where a wooden bridge crossed a gulch. I sat down on the steps to rest for a bit and all of a sudden this blur of fur came running at my feet, bumped into them, ran the opposite direction, scrambled behind me and up the post of the bridge. By this time I was up on my feet, freaking out after having let out a bit of a scream. I looked up and saw it was a ground squirrel. He then proceeded to scold me by shrieking at me in a high pitched voice. I must have been blocking access to his stash. My companion was laughing his head off. Ahh… life in nature….

Local Indigenous Food

Owamni Restaurant opened in 2021 and received the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in 2022. In April of this year they had an electrical fire and had to close, but damage was not extensive so they were able to re-open recently. It is located in a historical building next to St Anthony Falls on the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis. The name Owamni derives from the Dakota name Owámniyomni which roughly translates to “place of the falling, swirling water”.

The name of the restaurant is actually Owamni by the Sioux Chef. The Sioux Chef is made up of: “A team of Anishinaabe, Mdewakanton Dakota, Navajo, Northern Cheyenne, Oglala Lakota, Wahpeton-Sisseton Dakota and others. We are chefs, ethnobotanists, food preservationists, adventurers, foragers, caterers, event planners, artists, musicians, food truckers and food lovers.” The founder is Sean Sherman, Oglala Lakota, born in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. He has been cooking for 30 years across the world and has received several Fellowships and awards including the 2018 James Beard Award for Best American Cookbook, and the 2019 James Beard Leadership Award. The cookbook is called the Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen.

At Owamni, all the food is indigenous. The waiters wear t-shirts that say ’86 Colonialism’. All the food served is sourced from indigenous food producers and does not include any colonial ingredients such as wheat flour, cane sugar or dairy. Honey and maple were the only sweeteners used that I saw. A perfect place for the gluten lacto sensitive.

The restaurant features small plates and encourages ordering multiple dishes and sharing them. We ordered the:

  • Wild Rice (hand harvested)
  • Ashela (Duck, Corn Mush, Tepary, Sunflower Seed)
  • Cured Salmon with huckleberry sauce, kelp, and trout roe
  • Bison Asada Taco with pesto and Guajillo Salsa, and a blue corn tortilla, and topped with mustard greens
  • Elk Taco with burnt ends, carrot and turnip slaw, Warrior’s BBQ Sauce, and a blue corn tortilla and topped with mustard greens

I had a Sweet Wandering tea made from sweet clover, hawthorn leaf & blossom, milky oat top damiana and sweet grass. My dining companion opted for a wild rice lager.

Elk Taco with Wild Rice and Ashela

The Ashela was interesting. It was a mush that tasted a little like refried beans. It definitely had duck in it but very subtle. Tepary is a bean. It was pretty good. The salmon was very cold and I could barely taste the huckleberry. The Elk was a little tough and the mustard greens had a bitter taste. We both agreed the Bison Asada Taco was our favorite. I could have eaten more of that. And the wild rice was excellent as always.

This was a place we had wanted to go to for ages but could never get a reservation. Maybe because of the fire, people didn’t know it had re-opened. Not sure why, but we got in. It was an interesting experience. The flavors were subtle. Not what we are used to with all the salt and spices usually thrown at us at restaurants. It was all fresh and felt healthy. We were full but not stuffed. We agreed it was a pleasant experience but we weren’t sure it was someplace we would frequent often.

Red Wing, Minnesota

The weather turned. It got warm. Almost 80 degrees F. So we took advantage of it and spent the day in Red Wing, a town on the Mississippi with a population of about 17,000. It has a great used bookstore and a Scandinavian shop along the several blocks of downtown.

They have an “Art Walk” downtown with several statues scattered around. One was of a young Rosie the Riveter: “We Can Do It!” Lee Leuning & Sherri Treeby, Bronze. They even had prices on them. This one was $25,000.

Red Wing is the home of Red Wing shoes founded by Charles H. Beckman in 1905. It was one of the primary companies manufacturing footwear for American soldiers fighting in WWI.

A whole section of town is devoted to pottery. When it was discovered that the glaciers had deposited large clay beds in the area, the clay was shipped to Red Wing and the Red Wing Stoneware company was founded in 1877. It changed hands several times but it and other pottery companies are still in business and welcome visitors from all over.

The architecture is eclectic.

If you are lucky and Memorial Park is open, you can see a view of the whole area from the top of the bluff. We were not lucky this time. But here are some views from last summer.

We did find a good restaurant – Home Plate Grill & the Dugout Lounge is a sports bar with live music, trivia, and comedy nights. The food is burgers and sandwiches with some salads and entrees. We had the spinach and artichoke dip and a couple of burgers with blue cheese and bacon. It was all quite tasty. Good atmosphere, good service. Fun place.

After dinner we walked down by the river where we found more statues.

And a boat village

And the back of the St James Hotel.