The receding Red River of the North allowed Dylan and I to go on a radventure today, whoo-hoo! The boy chose the jogger stroller over the bicycle trailer and we set off toward the toll bridge in north Moorhead, hoping but not knowing that the bridge would be open and the trails clear on the Fargo side of the river. We have had to adjust our daily range a bit to accomodate Baby Julia, but when it is just the guys we are still able to put some miles on.
At Bridgeview park we played a bit on the slides and equipment then walked toward the river. Nature wasted no time presenting herself as we engaged in a standoff with five deer resting near the water. Despite the excessive volume of Dylan’s voice (“But I want to talk, Daddy!”), the deer stayed still for quite a while, watching us watching them.
We also engaged in a grisly game of safari gone awry, pretending that a metal culvert surrounded by tall grass was a lion and that a snowsuit stranded in a tree by floodwaters was a guy the lion “got”. Back at home the boy cheerfully strips down to his underwear, announcing that he is Mowgli and that I am Baloo (the underwear is his loincloth you see), but now that the pretend lion “got” the guy in the tree, he decided the village was safer than the jungle and we hiked back up to the playground. Our next stop was at a garage sale where a young woman and her family were trying to sell a few things in preparation for a move. Some free coffee, five minutes, and four dollars later we took off with a fedora and a portable music stand. Garage sales are fun.
The trails were clear on the North Dakota side of the river, so we wound our way through the Oak Grove neighborhood, emerging at the edge of downtown Fargo, then crossing back to the Minnesota side for a brief stop at the Hjemkomst Center. The main reason we stopped was to use the bathroom, but we were also granted a brief peek at the famous Viking ship and a chance to explain that the U.S. flag is red white and blue, while the Norwegian flag is red blue and white.
The highly cultural bathroom break reminded me to research my nagging suspicion that the bathrooms on our public golf courses open several months before those of our public parks. Of course, golfers help to subsidize their privilege to pee indoors with their greens fees, perhaps the solution is to charge the families with young children and the homeless who gather in Davy park a similar fee so they can enjoy the miracle of plumbing as well.
Dylan fell silent as we jogger strolled home, almost but not quite falling asleep. I am thankful that the river did not crest as high this year, and that the trails near the Red are accessible so early in this beautiful spring season. I am also thankful that political will has risen along with floodwaters, and long term flood protection is poised to win an epic battle against tax aversion. The greening of our public spaces is wonderful, as are the shocks of rhubarb and chives growing in our own backyard. As the Red recedes, it amazes me how quickly nature adapts to the new situation on the ground. Each spring is a chance to begin again, to correct course by acknowledging the true costs of our choices and the true value of our lives.