Nearly every Sunday for 20 years, brothers Mike and Dave Gair have met at the corner of 47th Street and E. Lake Harriet Parkway in Minneapolis at 8 a.m. sharp. They come to walk, certainly, but also to quietly honor a lifelong bond that grows stronger with time.

Mike, 66, recalls a pit in his stomach when Dave, 69, left for summer camp as a child. "I'd long for my big brother," he said.

They were reared in south Minneapolis with six siblings. Their father ran a shoe repair shop for 60 years; their mother ran the house. They grew up, got married, had two children each. Mike, a landscape architect, and Dave, a probation officer, didn't see each other much in those busy days.

Then they started walking, rarely missing. Twice around Lake Harriet in 90-degree heat, 30-below windchill and whatever else the Midwest had in mind. "Sometimes Mike pushes me and we make it five minutes faster," Dave said. "I'm the anchor otherwise."

They never run out of things to discuss. Politics. War. The economy. "Chatter, chatter, chatter," Mike says.

They get stopped by fellow walkers. Are you twins? Some wonder if the duo moonlight in December as that jolly fellow with a North Pole ZIP code. Never tempted. "We'd have to play Santa in tandem," Mike said, "and that would really screw up kids' thinking."

The exercise is good for them. The comfort of being shoulder-to-shoulder with someone who knows your history and loves you anyway is grand. This walk, Mike says, "fulfills a need to connect. If it doesn't happen, I have to figure out what I am going to do to fill this void. The outdoors, the freedom to utter whatever is in our heads, I can't do that with anybody else."


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"DUETS" is an occasional feature that celebrates unique relationships between two people. Send ideas to Or call 612-673-7350. Please put "duets" in the subject line.