The Gifts of a Roaming Day

January 17, 2023

“How long has it been since we roamed?” I asked my husband as we buckled our seat belts.

We guessed the last time was late in November when we drove around the lakes in suburbs west of Minneapolis. With most of the leaves on the ground, rather than on branches, we had clear views not only of lakeshore, but homes with water views –some huge and ostentatious and others old and more like summer cottages. A perfect day to imagine what it might be like to live in a lake community.

Since that day we had been occupied with the holidays and family events, the death of a dear friend, and weather unsafe for driving. The day had come, however, to resume our weekly practice of roaming. Seeing what we could see. Relaxing in the rhythm of the road. Learning something new, perhaps.

Our destination was Winona, a town in southern Minnesota situated on the Mississippi River. I did a little research and discovered that Winona means, “first born daughter” in the Dakotah language. I happen to be a first born daughter, so that felt like a good omen. When I looked up Winona on the internet I discovered there were over 40 homes or buildings listed on the National Registry of Historic Sites, including the public library, and we hoped to spot many of them as we wandered city streets. Part of our roaming this past fall was to visit the library in each town, but Winona’s was closed for the weekend as part of commemorating the Martin Luther King, Jr holiday. Next time, we said. And, believe me, there will be a next time.

Our main reason for going to Winona was to visit the Minnesota Marine Art Museum. on the banks of the Mississippi River. That has been on our list for years, but even though a number of friends had told us what a special place it is, somehow the timing was never right. Who wanted to spend time in a museum during non-winter months and during the winter, finding the day when the weather conditions allowed for easy travel was a challenge. Besides, the image I had of the museum was a dark cavern of crusty oil paintings of old clippers ships. That just didn’t appeal to me, even though I think of myself as a person influenced by the element of water.

Instead, this museum, which opened in 2006 and is housed in a gorgeous turn-of-the century influenced building, is dedicated to great art inspired by water, including world-class impressionist and Hudson River School art. But the museum also seeks to showcase contemporary art that expands and opens one’s relationship to water.

Our timing, as it turns out, was perfect. We immersed ourselves in the work of Anne Labovitz. And immerse is the operative word. Along with nine large paintings that focus on water’s surface quality and luminosity, we entered into what felt like sacred space–an installation of gently swaying walls that mimic the slight movement of calm water. Along with seeing and feeling, one hears a soundscape recorded at sunrise on the shores of Lake Superior. I sat inside the waterscape, contemplating, remembering, as if real water was washing over me.

I know most of you who read my blog do not live close enough to visit the museum, but if you do, I urge you to go see this exhibit before it closes on January 21. Our visit to this museum reminded me, once again, that treasures reside everywhere, including our back yards.

What has been on your list forever that you simply have not accessed yet? What might you discover accidentally if you got out a map, a real map, and figured out how to get THERE from HERE? Or if that is not possible, what are the other ways to enliven your curiosity? Of course, books, and perhaps something in a genre you normally don’t read. But that can also be true for other media–watch a documentary, instead of a mystery or crime show. One friend is taking an online class on bird identification and knows that will add to the pleasures of her daily walks. Another friend told me recently that she does virtual tours offered by the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and I am sure many other museums offer similar opportunities. Or even simpler, have you ever walked through the doors of the church down the street or visited a library other than the one in your loop of life? Recently, a friend and I were driving home after lunch, and I spotted a beautiful old library I had never seen before, and that is now on my list. Perhaps follow a block and see where it ends and then turn around and see where it ends in the other direction, stopping when something interests you.

Become a tourist in your own part of the world. Become a tourist in your life.

Saturday my husband I set out in sunshine, hoping to see eagles and hawks and we did. (The day’s tally was nine eagles, but only one hawk who looked permanently frozen on a bare branch.) But we had not expected to be so uplifted and amazed. We felt honored and privileged by the gifts offered to us. And we know we will return in the spring and summer when the river is open and the museum gardens are in bloom.

In the meantime, I wonder where we will roam next.

An Invitation

Where or in what way is your curiosity inviting you to roam? I would love to know.

2 thoughts on “The Gifts of a Roaming Day

  1. I love that you and your husband take these roaming day trips and discover new and exciting places! That museum looks and sounds amazing. We are planning to “roam” to the city this winter (Chicago – we live about 45 miles northwest of the city) to visit some shops as well as a couple of bookstores.


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