Are these towns for real?
In the oldest, fallow heart of Saint Minneapolis lay these tiny tinker toy towns like Mendota and Lilydale, each with an almost lonely road, a train track to nowhere, a lost settlement, and populations of 37 people, all somewhere hidden there in the floodplains under the high river bluffs.
We went to Lilydale today, a town without a town, or houses for that matter, and we walked along with the eagles, hawks and gulls who were all interested in the unnaturally still water of the sleeping river, and in the strange air currents that swirl down off the unusually soaring river banks there, veritable mountains by any local standard.
There were some big, old trees to see too, some covered in elaborate fists of burls like climbing great tortoises.
We experimented with walking up one path heading to Pickerel Lake even though it said "Path Closed". We gave it up at a frozen stream and, heading back to our main path, saw the most American sort of thing: three young men coming up the closed nature path, each guiding their own wee radio controlled car.
They were taking their little cars for a walk!
From our abandoned 19th Century Saint Minneapolis in ancient Lilydale, we looked across to the mostly left behind 20th Century Saint Minneapolis, there the city's great cathedral on a hill, a looming, extinct grain mill right across the water from us, with its mighty old dock to unload shipments straight off the river, and then just up from there, a massive landmark of a brewery for a beer that hasn't been for more than 30 years now.
We also saw some ducks.