Everything’s Blooming

May 17, 2013

12.54 Miles. Mac-Groveland, Desnoyer Park, Merriam Park, St. Anthony Park.

Maple flowers 1

Maple tree droppings line Goodrich Avenue in the Macalester-Groveland neighborhood.

There’s a whole lot of blooming going on right now. If you have allergies then you’re well aware of this thanks to your itchy, puffy, red eyes, drippy nose, sneezing, wheezing and cough. For those not burdened by pollen allergies, there are plenty of visual cues.

Maple tree exuviate.

Maple tree exuvia.

For example, I noted patches of green droppings under certain trees around the Highland Park and Macalester-Groveland neighborhoods. Upon close inspection it appeared that maple trees were the culprit. Research I did after the ride leads me to believe the little green items shed by the maple trees are flowers. I had no idea that maple trees flower.

An intimate look at what I believe are maple tree flowers.

An intimate look at what I believe are maple tree flowers.

A lot more than maple trees were in bloom on Otis Avenue in Shadow Falls.

A lot more than maple trees were in bloom on Otis Avenue in Shadow Falls.

One of the most unusual homes in this part of Saint Paul, the Kenneth Worthen House is at 54 Mississippi River Boulevard but its best side faces Otis Avenue. Built in 1926, the first county assessor to look at the house called it an “architectural freak” according to Larry Millett in the AIA Guide to the Twin Cities.

One of the most unusual homes in this part of Saint Paul, the Kenneth Worthen House, is at 54 Mississippi River Boulevard but its best side faces Otis Avenue. Built in 1926, the first county assessor to look at the house called it an “architectural freak” according to Larry Millett in the AIA Guide to the Twin Cities.

Have you ever taken an exceptionally close look at a utility pole? I hadn’t either-until for an inexplicable reason I did today.

Now we both know that electrical poles have their own, unique ID number.

Now we both know that electrical poles have their own, unique ID number called a Pole Inventory number.

scooters 1

Scooter Mania at this apartment building.

Is the outrageously high price of gasoline forcing Harley riders to ditch their hogs for scooters? Unlikely, so perhaps it was an end of the school year party that brought riders of 12 motor scooters together at 235 Exeter Place.

Several scooters are reflected in the mirror of another.

One scooter’s mirror reflects several others.

I assume (and hope) this GMC van honoring “‘merica “ and Dale Earnhardt Junior is tongue-in-cheek. It’s parked across from the scooters and 235 Exeter.

I assume this GMC van honoring “‘merica “ and Dale Earnhardt Junior is tongue-in-cheek. It’s parked across from the scooters and 235 Exeter.

Many people take pride in a luxuriously green lawn. Others lean toward abundant landscaping. Today I visited a yard laden with wind-driven spinners.

Paul Ceplecha stands in his front yard, next to one of about 50 ornaments on his property.

Paul Ceplecha stands in his front yard, next to one of about 50 ornaments on his property.

Paul Ceplecha has as many as 50 spinners and several windmills displayed throughout his yard at 144 Montrose Place. Paul’s explanation is simple, “I like motion (which) is why I do these things. You can’t really see wind so I put spinners, and whirligigs and what-have-you in there.

Paul 5

The spinner in the foreground is blurred by the wind giving it a twirl.

Paul has lived here about 40 years and he inherited the house about 10 years ago. That’s when he replaced all the grass with gardens and started decorating.

The back yard is covered with ornamental grass and some bushes.

Ornamental grass and some bushes cover the backyard.

Paul said, “I’ve got rainbow ones everywhere and red, white and blue ones everywhere and so I try to find different ones for variety.”

paul 4

Some of the numerous red, white and blue spinners.

Paul purchases the spinners at local home improvement stores and on-line. Experience has taught him that most spinners last four or five years and then need replacement, a process he calls “attrition”.

A few of the spinners in the front yard of Paul Ceplecha’s house. (I counted 17 in this shot.)

A few of the spinners in the front yard of Paul Ceplecha’s house. (I count 17 in this shot.)

Neighbors seem to enjoy Paul’s decorations. “I had one neighbor come up to me and he asked me where I got the cardinal because his son works for the Arizona Cardinals. He said, ‘Where can I get one for him.’ So we had to figure out where it came from.”

Paul 6

The cardinal spinner.

Abby Lamberton lives immediately to the south of Paul.

Abby Lamberton lives immediately to the south of Paul.

Abby Lamberton has lived next door for upwards of 20 years and made a point of telling me how popular Paul’s yard decorations are. “This is a toddler magnet. The parents of toddlers have a hard time because, we’ll be sitting out in our yard, and they’ll stop. Loud screams will be forthcoming unless their parents let them take a good long look and they’re just mesmerized.”

IMG_2283Paul plants lots of annuals to spruce up the yard. He has 200 varieties of hostas and some choral bells (or corabelles.) He suggested I come back in a couple of weeks to witness all of that.

Just four doors north of Paul’s place was a completely different, primordial yard display.

How would it feel to get up on your birthday and see this on your lawn?

How would it feel to get up on your birthday and see this on your lawn?

fossil 2

A variety of dinosaurs punctuated by skeletal flamingos.

Now solidly in Desnoyer Park, I stopped to see another unique home with an interesting history. The original portion of the Edward and Ida Brewer House was a damkeeper’s home until 1918 when the Brewers had it hauled up the hill by a team of horses to their property at 387 Pelham Parkway. Brewer was famous for his illustrations for Cream of Wheat advertisements and paintings which include the Hastings spiral bridge.

Later, Brewer added a studio to the home, according to an article by Patricia Condon Johnson in the Spring 1980 edition of Minnesota History.

The original dam-keepers house is to the left and Brewer's studio is the building on the right.

The original dam-keepers house is to the left but obscured by bushes and Brewer’s studio is the building on the right.

Emerald Street is the border of Saint Paul and Minneapolis and both cities post street signs. Saint Paul’s is on the post above the stop sign; Minneapolis’ is in the background. Interesting to note that in Saint Paul, the street is Emerald Street North but in Minneapolis called it’s East Emerald Street.

Emerald Street is the border of Saint Paul and Minneapolis and both cities post street signs. Saint Paul’s is on the pole above the stop sign; Minneapolis’ is in the background. Curiously, in Saint Paul, the street is Emerald Street North but on the other side of the street in Minneapolis it’s East Emerald Street.

Emerald Street is Saint Paul’s border with Minneapolis between I-94 and University Avenue. Weyerhaeuser, one of the world’s largest forest product companies, has a large distribution warehouse on the Saint Paul side of Emerald Street.

The Weyerhaeuser Service Center and Distribution facility as seen from the intersection of Emerald and Franklin, looking south.

The Weyerhaeuser Service Center and Distribution facility as seen from the intersection of Emerald and Franklin, looking south.

Frederick Weyerhaeuser was a close friend and Summit Avenue neighbor of railroad magnate James J. Hill. According to the website www.historylink.org, on January 3, 1900, Weyerhaeuser agreed to purchase 900,000 acres of forest lands in Washington state for $5.4 million. Not long after, Weyerhaeuser and other investors created the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company.

Frederick Weyerhaeuser circa 1900. Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society.

Frederick Weyerhaeuser circa 1900. Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society.

A sign on the Weyerhaeuser Service Center indicates it opened in 1920 but the company’s website says 1921.

Signs on the Weyerhaeuser Service Center indicate it opened in 1920 but the company’s website says 1921.

Peering through the fence of the Weyerhaeuser distribution facility, one can see what appear to be packages of lumber ready for delivery.

Peering through the fence of the Weyerhaeuser distribution facility, one can see what appear to be packages of lumber ready for delivery.

RR sign 1RR 2

RR 3

These three shots illustrate an odd situation. First, the railroad crossing sign (above) is in a barrel, not anchored in the ground. Second, (above right) on the street side of the railroad crossing sign post is this sign from the Minnesota Commercial Railroad. Finally, (right) what brings it all together is a look at the tracks to which the previous signs refer. There is a condo in the way of the tracks, which is certainly a problem and could be an emergency if a train is on the tracks.

The Emerald Gardens condos on the north side of Franklin Avenue are symbols of this neighborhood’s recent transformation from light industrial to residential.

The Emerald Gardens condos on the north side of Franklin Avenue are symbols of this neighborhood’s recent transformation from light industrial to residential.

The James M. Ray Insurance agency is but a faded memory.

The James M. Ray Insurance Agency on Franklin is but a faded memory.

The clicking of skateboard wheels hitting concrete followed by hoots and whoops drew me east to the sidewalk of the Court International Building on Franklin, between Curfew and Eustis. I thought the commotion was a group of skateboarders perfecting some new tricks. It turned out to be skateboarders doing some, like totally gnarly, tricks for a video and photo shoot.

As I watched and shot the skateboards, the sky darkened and became threatening. Showers and thunderstorms were forecast so I chose to stay relatively close to home in case I had to play beat the weather which I decided I better do.

The dark sky from Pelham Parkway and I-94.)

The dark sky from Pelham Parkway and I-94.

That turned out to be a prudent decision because big raindrops started to fall as I got within a half-mile of home. And about 30 seconds after I reached the safety of the garage, the skies opened.

I barely avoided getting drenched by the heavy rain.

I barely avoided getting drenched by the heavy rain.

Getting home dry was about the best ending possible to today’s ride.

The map of this ride is at the following link:

http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/219003597

 

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