DNR Trail

Recently, I sat for another artist, Clarity Haynes, for her Breast Portrait Project. It was lovely to talk and connect backgrounds and experiences over pastels and warm coffee in a sunlit studio. As I was traveling back from her studio in Brooklyn, the "D, N, R" on the subway sign reminded me of the DNR back where I grew up in Minnesota. I'm drawn to contrasts, and these two memories couldn't be further from each other on a map.

The DNR trail (see location "T" on map) is right off of Highway 15 directly across from my best friend's childhood "dome" home (D).  New Ulm has two rivers that border it and the DNR trail is a virtually-unknown gateway to a quiet and magical part of the Cottonwood River. The trail is heavily overgrown (you have to plow through the mosquitos), and after each twist and turn the pioneering pathfinder is rewarded with sparkling rivulets, meandering sandbars and lush vegetation.

And while "sparkling rivulets, meandering sandbars and lush vegetation" may on the metaphorical occasion be found in the New York Subway, my guess is that you probably don't want to explore those trails any further.

The Cottonwood River - the river my parents didn't want me caught dead in - was a constant companion in my childhood. Danny, Lance, Huy and I would bike down the back way into Flandrau State Park to go swimming (sorry, Mom and Dad) in the river. Flandrau was bordered by the New Ulm Country Club - where, on the 9th hole (G) in the middle of the night with my boyfriend and his brother, was the first time I got drunk at 16 years old. (But I still remember the whole story; um, sorry again, Mom and Dad.)  Schell's Brewery (B) sits right in the river ravine, an almost mythical place being the 2nd oldest family-owned and operated brewery in the nation where I worked through college giving tours & tastings, tending the museum and talking to the peacocks. And just beyond the map is, still along the Shag Road, the Winkelmann Lime Kiln - the first mortar-maker in the area which provided the glue that built my historic hometown.

Click to see larger version of map.

As more years are added to my life, the grasp I have on my memories seems less secure. The last few years in New York are a blur, perhaps due to the alcohol consumption one uses for fuel. So this project hopes to etch these memories and the these experiences onto my consciousness. However, I must note that as I am writing this post, I'm watching Grumpy Old Men and Grumpier Old Men so I am consumed with an overwhelming sense of nostalgia.

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