I adore this part of winter; the Beginning. The contrast of green to white with the first snow, temps cold but not yet bone-shatteringly so, storefronts festooned in swags, wreaths, globes and garland, luring you with their candy coated promises. In this moment even the mundane of my closet becomes appealing. Last year’s winter clothes a novelty now hang from my still-summer body in good-humored accommodation. This very early winter time begs that I leave the confines of my home to find my friends and follow enticement. “Eat, Drink & be Merry” has never had more meaning than in December. Find a place for me to sit beside an expansive window and watch the world from inside.
Recently I spent an evening at Barrio Tequila Bar whose street side facade vaunts a wall of glass overlooking Mears Park in lowertown St Paul. Such decadence taken for granted, to be surrounded by this energy-infused warmth with nothing more than a simple pane of glass shielding me from the algidity. It’s here friends and I sip bar concoctions with meaningless names; “The Trinity”, “Macho Camacho” and “Enter The Dragon”, each softening the edges of our day with their velvety smoothness. My attention vacillates between the alcohol steeped chatter at my table and the winter life outdoors. Pulsing gusts of snow race across the street heedless of cars, men and women walk past, strides confident in their Sorrel-clad feet. Food arrives at our table, mini-Mexican works of art; Mahi Mahi Taco, Red Snapper Ceveche, Amish Chicken Quesadilla and a Trio of Salsas. Nestled at the center of the Trio lies the Habanero salsa, co-dependent lover of my tequila, task master to my taste buds; nothing brings me to present like my incendiary compadre, daring me, swearing no harm while bringing tears to my eyes.
And so the evening proceeds, friends wrapped together in the raucousness of the Barrio, a crazy confluence of tequila and capsaicin sharpening the contrast of what awaits outdoors. I know the freshness of December will pass, eventually my clothes will conspire to strangulate me and I will curse each and every snowflake that falls from the sky. But for now I will sit toasty warm indoors and enjoy the newness of my winter relationship.
A little curiosity and a big dose of nosiness led us over to this charming couple of young adults who were setting up a slack line in Mears Park yesterday evening. They had strung a line between two trees and were testing the tension, when we walked over and interrupted them. Like a couple of toddlers, we wanted to know the what, why, how and , when and they indulged us with more than a dose of Minnesota niceness.They demonstrated, urged us to try, held our hands as we shook and edged our ways a few steps (me) or the entire length of the line (my friend).
What an amazing feeling to isolate the contact point of your body onto a 2 inch semi slippery strap, responding to every quiver of your muscle, whether it originated in your mind or your limbs. Then to jump to the ground and continue the shakes like the proverbial drunken sailor.
Here’s “the skinny.” The set up of slack line equipment can be had for about $65 dollars and Midwest Mountaineering or other similar stores around town. They had taken to bringing with to family events, preferring the activity to the usual other diversions. It’s great exercise – abdominal and legs, and of course, a boost to your balance.
My friend and I reluctantly said good-bye and took off to attend to our wine tasting at Bin. Curious? You can probably find them in Mears Park many evenings continuing their venture to prepare for a slack line walk across a creek somewhere. They lived close by.
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