A Line or Two: A Soulful Almost-Saint-Paul Park
It was an idyllic Sunday—May 13, one of those perfect blue-sky days when they shoot the postcards—and my wife, Laurie, and I needed an outing.
The two of us have different sensibilities when it comes to exploring the world; she's mostly a nature girl, while I'm more of an urban-neighborhood wanderer.
We decided that the day was so beautiful that I'd go the nature route too--we'd head for trees and grass, followed by dinner in some restaurant that was new to both of us. Our choice was Battle Creek Regional Park
, just over the Saint Paul line to the southeast, in Maplewood.
I'd driven around the perimeter of the park back in The Line's first weeks, when I was doing my best to learn at least a little about all the neighborhoods in the Cities, but I'd never gone in. I knew it was big (750 acres),both open and forested, with plenty of woodsy hiking trails, and all of this right next to tidy residential neighborhoods on the Saint Paul and Maplewood sides. There's a sizable waterpark too (slated to open for the season in June) with all kinds of brightly colored slides and rides.
Dia de la Madre
But what was a surprise and a delight was just how interesting an urban mosaic the park was that Sunday. As we walked from the parking lot, we saw a lively group of folks clustered around one of the shelters, enjoying a cookout and listening to an emcee's jolly amplified Spanish. It was Dia de la Madre
(Mother's Day), of course, and he was honoring the mothers in the crowd. Nearby stood a white van that identified itself, and this group, as belonging to La Iglesia Evangelica El Shadai
(Evangelical Church El Shadai), Maplewood.
On a grassy rise, black kids kicking a soccer ball around. Elsewhere families whose faces suggested India or Pakistan. The beauty and energy of all these cultures against a stunning, almost pristine green backdrop. It felt like the Bronx, minus the concrete and barbed wire. We loved it.
We strolled around the spaciousness—there are lovely vistas in every direction--crossed a little bridge that spans a mini-waterfall connecting a couple of ponds, and felt a lot of gratitude that we live in a city where the brand-new hopes and faith of urban immigrants blend with the timeless tunes that nature plays.