16 July 2005

Get Thee Outa the City.

There's a scene in the movie "Pleasantville" where a character who gets zapped back in time to Everything's Nifty-Eisenhower America finds herself in a high-school classroom. The lesson is geography, and it seems, according to the map, that the world ends at the edge of town, a few blocks off Main Street. "What's after that?" asks the time traveller. Everyone laughs, for they've never ventured beyond the end of the sidewalk themselves. So to avoid turning black and white ourselves, we pointed the 337 southwest and headed for the Minnesota River Valley.

First stop was Henderson, where my maternal grandfather was born going on 85 years ago. We had lunch at the Brass Top, and then split a ginormous ice cream cone across the street. Henderson is a pretty place along the river. With it's prime long behind it, the town has decided not to go quietly, and is revamping the buildings on Main Street by stripping off all the hideousness of the 60's and 70's, and refinishing and tuckpointing the original brick. It's stuff like this that will renew a guy's hope in the positive action of involved citizenry and pragmatic government.

We rolled on through the Bohemian Rivirea; a chain of little towns founded by German and Czech immigrants between 1870 and 1910: Belle Plain, Gaylord, New Ulm, Nicollet, St. Peter, New Prague, etc. Tall green corn, little agricultural cooperatives, and water towers out of science fiction movies. We were wondering where all the people were (it was 95 degrees on the prairie), and then we realized, dummy us, that there just aren't that many people out there; not like we're accustomed to as city folk.

Get outa town, you urban jaded. Get away from the tarmac and tour the green spaces. There's more to life than franchise lunch.

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