Shovelin’ it but not really diggin’ it

Is there a word that means both beautiful and foreboding?

I’ve lived in Minnesota all my life and to me, snow is no big deal. But I do see the beauty in it and I’m glad I live somewhere that has four distinct seasons, blah, blah, blah. Snow is nice to have around Christmas time and I don’t mind it too much for the first half of the winter, but on my ranking of favorite seasons, winter is still a solid #4 with no bullet.

First snow of the season (photo by Steve Date)

We got our first snow here in Minneapolis this morning and I was compelled to go out with my camera. I have a blog, after all, and this is the kind of day where people notice the beauty and reflect on . . . . whatever.

The old water tower looks good in any season (photo by Steve Date)

Almost anything you say or take a picture of about snow is a cliche. It’s all been said many times and in much more interesting ways than I ever could. I’ll admit, it was pretty this morning — a wet, heavy 3 inches (with 6 more to come by tonight). But because I was shooting photos, I didn’t wear gloves, so after 10 minutes my figures were numb. I didn’t wear boots, so my feet were soaked. The wind was blowing and the camera lens kept getting wet. So I walked around the block, shot a few pictures, said to myself, “Yup, sure is pretty out here”, and ducked back inside.

Now I have a few snow pictures that are about as good as the billion others that were taken by Minnesotans this morning.

It was in the high 60s and sunny just a few days ago, so I guess I’m not ready for this, even though a mid-November snowfall is not at all unusual. This one will melt, but it won’t be long before we get the one that stays with us until April.

There are those winter days in Minnesota where sky is deep blue, the air is clean and crisp and the snow stays fluffy and white. Today isn’t one of them. Today’s snow is wet, heavy and already starting to look dirty.

I’ll be out shoveling this afternoon, then getting the last couple of chairs and a hose into the garage and the pond pump out of the water.

I’ll leave my camera indoors.

That makes two of us

The Washburn Water Tower: Scary-looking guardian of good health

People stop their cars and take photos.  Runners push themselves up the hill.  High school kids go up there to smoke dope.  Airline pilots look down and know they’re lined up with runway 12-Right at MSP.  Octagenarians Sam and Virginia Sarat, who live across the street, walk past as they do nearly every day.  The Washburn Water Tower in south Minneapolis is a landmark, yes. But it’s actually more like an old friend to those of us who live near it.  It’s hard to imagine what the top of our little hill would look like without it.

Aerial view of the new water tower and surrounding neighborhood in the 1930s (photo from Minnesota Historical Society)

Similar photo that I took from an airplane in 2006.

This tower is actually the second one built on the site.  The original was built in 1893 and demolished in 1930 to make way for the current one.

Original tower was built in 1893 (photo from Minnesota Historical Society

Current tower under construction in the early '30s, before the scary guys were added. (photo from Minnesota Historical Society)

Our health is guarded (photo by Steve Date)

The tower was designed by three prominent men of the era. Harry Wild Jones, the architect, designed many other well-know buildings in the area, including the Lakewood Cemetery Chapel. The sculptures are by John K. Daniels, who did similar work for other buildings, including figures on the Washburn Flour Mills Utility Building in Minneapolis. The engineer was William S. Hewitt, who also invented a reinforced concrete construction method.

The tower is a cool thing to have in the neighborhood and makes a nice little park with good views. 

Runner and Water Tower (photo by Steve Date)

Last summer (photo by Steve Date)

Follow this link for an article about the history of the water tower from the Minnesota Historical Society’s MINNESOTA HISTORY magazine published in 1984.