For those not living in the midwest: don't forget about us here, still enduring winter. In Minneapolis, we are lucky if some shy sunlight will tease through the grey and salty haze, and stir us a little, and remind us that when the temperature rises, that distinct wet earth smell is going to happen again, like a reward, hinting of the tiny green shoots waiting patiently.
To those in the Twin Cities: To really whet the appetite for spring, we can visit the Cowles Conservatory in the Walker Art Center's Sculpture Garden. It's magical and free. One can walk down an indoor path surrounded by palms, succulents, orchids, and all sorts of seasonal greenery. The smell is intoxicating and overwhelmingly healthy-feeling.
With a few good friends and the Crew Pack and Fora Pack on our backs, we recently visited the conservatory. After drinking in the sweet air and enjoying the rich greenery, we headed back out into the winter to cross the nearby Hixon Whitney Bridge and shoot some photos.
The bridge, which connects the garden with Loring Park and downtown Minneapolis, was commissioned to local artist Siah Armajani, an architect whom combined several styles of American bridges to symbolize convergence of ideals and standards into something new. Lifting the blue and yellow color scheme from Jefferson's Monticello home, the bridge feels like a perpetually bright beacon above a currently salty and grey winter metropolis. Our Crew Pack felt particularly welcome here.
Many of the the bridge's beams bear lines of a specially commissioned poem written by John Ashbery, which you can read as you cross. Hear Ashbery read the piece himself here. His beautiful writing resonated deeply in me (James) and seemed to express something like the feelings we have had since starting Viska, stepping off, finding ourselves in a moment of transition, a beginning, gaining momentum. The poem:
And now I cannot remember how I would
have had it. It is not a conduit (confluence?) but a place.
The place, of movement and an order.
The place of old order.
But the tail end of the movement is new.
Driving us to say what we are thinking.
It is so much like a beach after all, where you stand
and think of going no further.
And it is good when you get to no further.
It is like a reason that picks you up and
places you where you always wanted to be.
This far, it is fair to be crossing, to have crossed.
Then there is no promise in the other.
Here it is. Steel and air, a mottled presence,
and lucky for us.
And then it got very cool.