Today was my first visit to The Raptor Center in St. Paul. Established in 1974 as part of the Univ. of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, the center rehabilitates more than 700 sick and injured raptors each year. I learned about all sorts of raptors: hawks, falcons and kestrels, eagles, owls and osprey, as well as the turkey vulture. Raptors are characterized by a hooked beak, strong feet with sharp talons, keen eyesight, and a carnivorous diet.
Did you know the peregrine falcon can reach speeds of 200mph? That the bald eagle has 7,000 feathers? How about that the Northern Saw-whet owl is one of the smallest owls, standing at 7 inches tall? Or that if humans’ eyes were proportionately equivalent to owls’ huge eyes and their skull, we’d have eyes the size of tennis balls?
Today’s photo is of a juvenile bald eagle. They don’t get their characteristic white color markings until 4-5 years of age.
Trivia: When is a minute 61 seconds? Tonight actually. At the last minute before midnight on June 30, I learned that the UTC will be adding a leap second. This is the 25th leap seconds that’s been added since 1972. About every 1.5 years, one extra second is added to Universal Coordinated Time (UTC). This accounts for the fact that the Earth’s rotation slows down over time while the atomic clocks we use to measure time tick away at almost the same speed over millions of years.
Today was a day for socializing and celebrating food: from lunch at the food truck Dandelion Kitchen (one of City Pages Top 10 Street Eats, I’ve also eaten at Smack Shack and Hola Arepa from their list and Turkey to Go from my list), to samosas and a lemon shandy at Brit’s happy hour, my favorite kung pao at Big Bowl, and finally a slice of triple berry pie at Baker’s Square.
I was intrigued to check out Jim Hodges’ boulders (Untitled, 2011), which were installed at the Walker Art Center’s outdoor green space this past spring. The artist spotted these four massive boulders in Massachusetts, each weighing between 8-13 tons and thousands of years old. Shipped to Minnesota on three semi trucks, the boulders are “wrapped” in a layer of high-polished stainless steel in a different color—copper orange, blue, gold and lavender. The viewer is able to walk around them and between them, and the light and shadows dance off the surface in myriad ways.
Near the corners of Larpenteur and Lexington in Roseville, Snuffy’s Malt Shop has an unassuming storefront in the neighborhood strip mall. Today was a hot and hazy day with a summer air that was palpable from every pore. My medicine? A butterscotch malt.
I went to the Twins vs. White Sox game, and I wasn’t at all conflicted on who to root for compared to when the Twins played the Cubs earlier this month. Of course, I found the Minneapple pies. Saw two runs from the Twins finally in the bottom of the ninth inning, but it wasn’t enough to win. If nothing else, it was perfect weather to be at the ballpark with friends.
Twin Cities Metro magazine recently highlighted a host of local haunts in its Hole in the Wall guide, which is how I ended up at Ziach Polish Foods in Northeast Minneapolis. It clearly lived up to its name because everyone in the store was speaking Polish, except me. Nearly all the groceries were labeled in Polish with very few English translations. It was like I’d transported to a European neighborhood market.
Somehow I missed the Polish experience when I lived in Chicagoland, aside from pączkis and Pulaski Day, a Polish holiday observed by Illinois public schools. I love that even in Minneapolis, I’m still discovering pockets of culture and new experiences that awaken my senses.
I have an insatiable curiosity and appetite for ethnic foods. From the shelves, I picked up and turned over each dry good, canned and jarred vegetables and fruits, and of course, the candy, cookies and chocolate. I eyed the extensive pierogi options in the freezer and limited myself to three flavors. My last stop was the deli case where I bought Polish ham and kielbasa, carefully selected and wrapped in butcher paper. Quite frankly, it’s the first time I’ve bought kielbasa that wasn’t Hillshire and I’m really excited. (Thankfully, the family running this store also speaks English!)
If you listen, keep your eyes open and make time, you’ll gradually identify the nuances of what makes a city great.
Sometimes my plan for the daily photo doesn’t pan out, which is how I ended up trekking through Mill Ruins Park at 10:15pm Sunday night with my camera and tripod to capture the Stone Arch Bridge. (Also seen here.) Surprisingly, there were a couple dozen people milling around (no pun intended) and even 6-7 runners, who appeared to appreciate the cooler night air.