A normal Saturday in our house involves vacuuming up dog hair, washing clothes, and moving stacks of books from one place to another, trying to create some open space on the dining room table. So a "perfect Saturday" must presuppose that all that work is done and we are free to play tourist.
6 a.m.: Down to the Lake — Como Lake, that is, in St. Paul. The earlier the better, to catch the birds at their most active. This means not just the gangly, graceful egrets and herons, but also red-winged blackbirds swaying from the cattails, yellow warblers flitting from branch to branch, diving mallards, and red, red cardinals singing from the treetops.
7:30 a.m.: We walk the dogs through the neighborhood to the Coffee Grounds (1579 Hamline Av.), where we sit outside with a couple of blueberry scones and steaming cups of coffee. The dogs want scones too, but they make do with the miniature Milk-Bones sold at the coffee shop counter.
10 a.m.: Is it raining? If so, we'll bookstore-hop, first browsing the stacks at lovely Micawber's (2238 Carter Av.) and then over to Common Good Books (38 Snelling Av.), which has a fine selection by local writers. And then a stroll along Grand Avenue under the umbrella, popping in at Irish on Grand (1124 Grand Av.) to admire the sweaters and pottery, and Sixth Chamber Used Books (1332 Grand Av.), just to see what's come in.
Noon: Lunch at Khyber Pass Cafe (1571 Grand Av.), a tiny Afghan restaurant with big windows, white lights, elaborate carpets (on the ceiling!) and delicious food.
10 a.m.: Or … is it not raining? We'll bike the Gateway Trail, picking it up where it crosses Maryland Av. near I-35. If we are feeling strong, we might pedal all the way to Stillwater and back.
Noon: Conny's Creamy Cone (1197 N. Dale St.), the little stand with the giant ice cream cone on the roof. Lunch is barbecued beef on a bun and a chocolate malt, eaten at the red and white picnic tables.
3 p.m.: On to the Weisman Art Museum on the U of M campus to visit the Pedicord Apartments, my favorite installation. The dim hallway, closed doors, and dingy lobby all remind me of my first apartment. Walk up to each door and hear: a dog barking. A ballgame on the radio. A family eating dinner. Someone crying.
6 p.m.: Dinner at Caffe Biaggio (2356 University Av.), where the deep-fried olives make a great starter, and where the courtly waiters all remember you even if you only come by a couple of times a year.
9 p.m.: It would be hard, at this point, not to go home and sleep, especially if there's been wine. But it's Saturday! We head to Ward Six (858 Payne Av.), to admire the tin ceiling, the antique bar, and the Surly Hell on tap. Tomorrow, the dog hair awaits. Tonight, though, is all about the hair of the dog.