Day Sixteen: and wild and sweet the words repeat

It was raining lightly in the early morning as my trusty canine companion, who answers to the human name of Pete, and I headed out. We were acting on a hot tip from a friend, whose mysterious instructions were only “Go to the Black Forest right away and look in the alley behind it.”

This was something I’d never done before, even though I used to eat at the Black Forest when I first moved to Minneapolis. The Black Forest was the site of a “wurst salad” which was as interesting as it sounds, and it was also the site of a Halloween night where I freaked out the bargoers by wearing my amazing half-black and half-white face mask, which fits so perfectly that people think it’s my actual face.

But enough of the Halloween mask and back to the hot tip.

Pete and I headed out from our house into the Black Forest/Whittier neighborhood, which adjoins ours and which we never walk in because we’re dumb creatures of habit and we stick to one of the four lake walks we’ve done thousands of times over the years.

Me to Pete: We’re so dumb. Why do we not walk in Whittier more often? It’s so cool.

Pete: ……..

Me: Do you want to hear a little Marcy Playground?

Pete: ………

I took that as a fervent yes.

Me: Hangin’ ’round downtown by myself
and I had so much time to sit and think about myself
and then there she was
like double cherry pie yeah there she was
like disco superfly

Pete: …………..

Me: I love that song!

Pete: ……………

After a while we came to the Black Forest, which is on a long street known as Eat Street for its dozens of great, cheap restaurants. At first I wondered if the mural on the side of the building is what my friend meant, because it’s so charming. I would like to go to the Black Forest and live in that castle for a while, breathe the pure mountain air and smile at fawns picking their way through the trees.

But this mural wasn’t something that I’ve never done before. It’s been here a long time, and besides, it’s not in the alley. Down the street, around the corner, and into the alley went Pete and I.

Holy crud. That, below, is the mosaic of my dreams, right there in the alley behind the Black Forest.

Those are the ending lines of a poem that I love so much that I memorized it many years ago and recite it to myself at least a few times every week. Magical words in glass and stone and cement, right there in an alley on Eat Street.

Me to Pete: Would you like me to recite The Summer Day to you?

Pete: ………………….

I took that as a fervent yes.

We walked home in the now-pouring rain to the soundtrack of Marcy Playground followed by Mary Oliver, a strange and felicitous combination.


  1. oreo · July 24, 2012

    Wow, I saw that beautiful mosaic while driving past and meant to return to see it closer. I had no idea that it referenced what is also one of my favorite poems ever. I’m going to have to go take a picture of that and put it up where it will remind me to ask myself that question daily.


  2. Denise · July 26, 2012

    Hi Allison, I just have to comment – love this! I did not know the poem (should have) and I’m so glad I know it now. Thank you for sharing…do you know anything about the artist who created the mosaic? I am so enjoying your never done before challenges. Reading every one, lurker that I am…I am inspired to get back on the blog horse and do something like it myself. Thanks again.


  3. alison · July 27, 2012

    Go see it, my friend. It’s beautiful.


  4. alison · July 27, 2012

    Denise, it makes me happy that you love the poem. It’s one of my all-time favorites. And I’m glad you’re enjoying the challenges. . . only eleven days to go!


  5. Ellie · July 29, 2012

    This is amazing. And so are you!


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