Monday, August 01, 2005

Bicycle Notes

Took the long way to the office today, following a meandering route through precincts so unlike Eden Prairie and other fortresses for the winners of class warfare.

Why don't VFW clubs ever have windows?

How do you respond to a neighbor whose vision of his castle is the hellish accumulation of every half-assed home handyman project known to man? Not to mention the ADHD and lack of financing to get anything completed.

A small duplex has accumulated an impressive, rotating inventory of out-of-warranty luxury cars — a Mercedes, a Volvo and two Jaguars spill out of the driveway and onto the street, where the residents (Syrians?) are always working on one of them. The Volvo in front of the neighbors' house has a chalkline drawn around it on the pavement, with "No Parking" chalked at one end and a handicapped parking symbol at the other.

I turn off into a Jewish cemetery I've always passed before. Stones, some bearing Cyrillic names on one side and English on the other, are clustered tightly on a modest hill farthest from the road. There are no towering monuments, the doctors taking their place equally beside the hat makers and laborers. To reach them, you must pass through awaiting fields planted with alfalfa, not grass. A circle drive through the memorial park reveals more than a dozen circles where elm stumps have been ground out over the past several years. What was once a treelined way now resembles a cartpath through a farmer's field. This place might be starkly beautiful in winter, but today, even with all the green, it is merely stark. A good place to contemplate impermanence.

A few miles down the road a new multifamily development rises along a street called Elmgrove Avenue, lined with spindly, slick-barked red maple saplings and transplanted pines.

A shopping center on the skids, with a nearby strip development already abandoned. I think large enclosed malls around the country could be easily reconfigured into medium security prisons, with the parking areas converted to exercise yards and prison gardens. The customers and their families wouldn't have far to travel.

Between meals, I buy three stuffed grape leaves from a Lebanese deli and eat them as I ride. I've been anticipating them for miles as I pass each convenience store and its abundance of easy snacks. $1.12, about the price of a small bag of chips.

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