I am very excited to be writing a blog here on StarTribune.com. I will be writing about once a week on topics such as conservation, the Boundary Waters, the St. Croix River, and more.
In 2009, I decided to write every single day for the month of June, as a way of celebrating what many consider Minnesota’s finest month. To add to the challenge, I decided to write in the old Japanese form of haibun, which is just a fancy way of saying a few paragraphs of prose, combined with three-line haiku poems.
This ended up meaning a lot of late nights, tapping away at the computer when I wanted to go to bed, faced with a midnight deadline. But I finished the month with 30 short essays, a document that is both a record of a specific period of time, and an impression of the season and what it brings year after year.
The collection of writing spanned the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to the St. Croix River, from riding the bus through the heart of Minneapolis to walking my dog on the shores of St. Paul’s Lake Phalen, and all the journeys in between those places.
Also in those essays were perennial summer events: watching a field full of fireflies; canoeing to a campsite along a cold spring-fed creek, then paddling to a sandbar perfect for swimming; Ely busy with canoe parties ready to head out into the wilderness.
June is here again. I don’t plan to repeat my “June Haibun” project, but I am eager to enjoy this month known for the beauty, joy and sun that we deserve after another long winter. This past weekend, as summer hesitantly arrived in the North Star state, I took to the St. Croix River with my wife Katie and our black lab Lola. It was sadly the latest in the year that I can remember taking our first canoe trip in a long time.
We put the canoe in near the mouth of the Snake River and floated downstream 11 miles to a landing near Rush City. The sky was overcast, but summer skies are never boring. The clouds were dimpled, showing that there was a bright sun shining above. The early summer air was heavy with moisture, thick with the smells of new growth and alive with a constant chorus of birds.
A friend once said the solstice, the longest day of the year, should be an official state holiday in Minnesota. I don’t see that happening anytime soon, but I’d suggest June 21 would be a very good day to use some vacation or call in sick, and celebrate summer in this beautiful place we live.
Do you have a unique way of celebrating summer? Let me know in the comments.
If you have a good story about conservation, the Boundary Waters, hiking, paddling, bicycling, or your favorite lake, river or trail, please send it my way at firstname.lastname@example.org.