march 17, 2020—a parable for the times, part 1

So, I took Rocco to Minnehaha Falls Dog Park today, my favorite park within the city limits because even within limits, it feels like it goes on forever—you can follow the river all the way to the gulf in one direction, or go almost to Canada in the other, but it’s a place I don’t get to much any more because Minneapolis requires a permit to use their dog parks, yet their online permit system refuses to sell me one—not for lack of trying, mind you, because I’ve tried, for months to no avail—and yes, I supposed I could actually go and purchase one in person, but see, I kinda try to avoid people when I can, even before it became pandemically trendy, and now thanks to social distancing and such, I can’t get one in person, even if I wanted to, so I decided to take my chances (cue Judas Priest, Breakin’ the Law), and head to my fave city park for some fresh air and nature communing without a permit. Short story: we took a grand long hike and didn’t get caught by the feds. Or whomever issues tickets for that sort of thing. But that’s not the parable. For the longer story, read on. Or don’t. I’m not the boss of you. But since you’re kinda self-quarantined, what else you gonna do? Alphabetize your spice rack? Backward this time?

The park clings to the deeply grooved banks of the Mississippi, and it’s heavily wooded
which means the trains, still covered in thick, die-hard, hard-packed snow—basically glacier-covered ribbons winding through the park, which makes hiking on the trails a thrilling exercise in how not to fall to your health. Or at least get scraped up pretty bad. Or maybe just muddy. One hill that eventually leads down to the river is especially steep and sneaky-slippery because of the ice hidden under spotty layers of leaves, is one of Rocco’s favorite squirrel-spotting spots. I couldn’t convince him that maybe today there were other places we could find squirrels, so I gingerly shuffled sideways down the path until about a third of the way, I began slipping and shuffling faster and faster, and suddenly I’m envisioning myself tumbling ass-over-teakettle (whatever the hell that means) into the open mud-stream at the bottom of the hill. I managed to stumble-fall half way to a tree, where I clung for a few moments, wondering now what do I do? Claw my way back up to the top, or just let gravity finish the job? If only there was a slack line or something…

Suddenly, something came into focus in my peripheral vision and take a wild guess what it was. OKAY I’LL TELL YOU—IT WAS A REAL-LIVE, GODDAMNED SLACK LINE, Y’ALL. Tied to the tree just above my head, where I was clinging for my life. Or maybe just standing there, wondering what to do next. So, I reached up, took hold of the line in mymittened hand and, hand over hand, slacked my way down to the bottom of the hill.

And I know there’s a parable in there somewhere. I’ll let you find it. xo!



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