As we move closer to Christmas, the holiday twinkles of the lights around the city become lovelier each night. One of the benefits of living in our town is the community's participation in the holiday spirit. There are many fundraisers happening currently to benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank and their Holiday Program, which provides food and gifts to many families in need during the holidays. The streetlights are lit with snowflakes, and the Central School's trees are filled with lights glowing deep blue hues and soft pink glows. Grand Rapids residents and businesses are taking part in the Change the Range, a range cities humanity call to action to help those in need. The base of the blue lit tree at Old Central School has the sweetest baggies clipped to it filled with scarves, hats, & mittens and a note indicating that they are there for people who might be in need to take freely. The gigantic wreath is hung on the front of City Hall with care. It is beautiful and magical.
"glimpses of sparkling Christmas trees"
Being that Grand Rapids is a walk able city, and it has been an unusually warm start to winter, it has left me with ample opportunity for strolling in the evenings. There is a perfect 5k loop from my house that goes down by the fairgrounds and circles Crystal Lake where I often see the most stunning sunsets. Lately, while strolling, I catch glimpses of sparkling Christmas trees through windows and holiday decorations illuminating my walk. I'm half convinced that a group of carolers will hop out from behind a tree at any moment and sing a snappy version of Frosty the Snowman or Deck the Halls, which would be just fine by me.
This evening, the wind is howling and the snow is gently falling, and it looks like old man winter has finally come to settle upon our cozy little town just in time for Christmas. On tonight's walk, I decide to stop for a warm up at my favorite local coffee shop. The peppermint, nutmeg, and cinnamon spice of the seasonal brews permeate the air and fill the room. I sit sipping my Americano, and observe with delight the patrons entering the shop bundled in scarves and caps all rosy-cheeked and bright eyed and smiling, as the holiday hum of music plays gently in the background. I smile and finish my coffee and bundle up for the snowy walk home.
The Winter Solstice is a week away, and with the changing of the seasons I reflect on another year of living in this amazing city. I've come to realize it's all of the little things that add up to make this a wonderful town. It's the sense of community coming together to raise money for those less fortunate, the families hustling and bustling around, the twinkling snowflakes on the light posts, the snowy walks at sunset, the local shops and businesses where everyone knows your name and greets you with a smile, and the feeling that you are truly home.
The Mississippi River will always have its own way; no engineering skill can persuade it to do otherwise...
- Mark Twain in Eruption
We are fortunate to have the privilege of living on the Mississippi River, with its natural beauty, commerce, home to wildlife, and rich history. Experience nature in the whisper of the pines and the crisp northwoods air. Follow the river through Bemidji, Cass, Winnibigoshish and Pokegama — mighty lakes, with mighty good fishing. Discover the stories of the Ojibwe and the history of the lumberjacks. The river passes through ten states, is the largest drainage system in North America, and it rises here in Minnesota.
For these reasons and many more, the Mississippi River is the source and inspiration of a great deal of literature, research, advocacy, music, and other artistic expression. The river is like a riddle in our lives—it's always the same and it's always different: it's moving and still, unchanging and changing, beautiful and troubled. Geologically, it is here but it could change course and be over there. It has a slow but immeasurably strong power. It is the single reason for the existence of both Grand Rapids and the Twin Cities, Most importantly it provided power for mills, the engines of our early modern world. The earlier inhabitants of this region who worked with the river laid the foundations for our present communities.
This month at MacRostie Art Center, the Mississippi River is the focus for a group exhibition by three Minnesota artists: James Boyd Brent, Rick Love, and Daryn Lowman. The River Project focuses on the artists’ experience of two specific local areas on the Mississippi to draw attention to the diverse qualities of the river and to its overriding importance in our lives and in the economic and cultural life of Minnesota. The exhibit is primarily about three artists striving to immerse themselves in the being of the river. The river is so obvious and magnificent in our landscape and yet it is often taken for granted. Amidst its natural beauty also exists a pollution problem on a grand scale. There is a misconception that the river can always heal itself because it flows downstream, so quickly out of sight.
This week Art Hounds on Minnesota Public Radio offer up two events that celebrate the Mississippi River, plus a summer festival from Skylark Opera. Listen here http://www.mprnews.org/story/2015/06/18/art-hounds. Keith Williams says it's worth a trip to check out "The River Project" at MacRostie Art Center in Grand Rapids. Williams says it's an earthy, thoughtful reflection on life along the river.
Visit Grand Rapids announces a 15 week #MNnature Photo Contest that will run Memorial Day (May 25, 2015) to Labor Day (September 7, 2015). This contest was created as a marketing collaborative that encourages people to share why they love living, working, raising a family and vacationing in Minnesota’s Nature or otherwise known as the Grand Rapids/Itasca County area. This contest is being underwritten by Visit Grand Rapids, www.minnesotasnature.com, Grand Rapids Herald Review, and KOZY/KMFY.
Everyone can enter for a chance to WIN weekly prizes and a $2800 Grand Prize. This contest is for residents, seasonal residents and visitors. A $50 weekly area business gift certificate will be awarded every week to the winner of the photo of the week. All people need to do is to TAKE A PICTURE, SHARE ON SOCIAL MEDIA, and TAG #MNnature in their post. The Visit Grand Rapids staff will select the photo of the week that was shared on social media every week from a site called TagBoard.com. This site allows users to search any hashtag and it pulls all of the comments and images that are associated with it. There is no age limitation for the weekly prize.
The second way for people to enter for a chance to win is to log onto www.visitgrandrapids.com/sweepstakes complete the entry form, and upload a photo that they took somewhere in the Grand Rapids/Itasca area. People must be 18 years or older to enter for a chance to win the grand prize. The Grand Prize is a $2800 package that includes a week long stay at Hidden Haven Resort and a pontoon rental, and a wonderful package of other gifts.
“We know that the Grand Rapids/Itasca area is a wonderful place, and we want to have people share their images with us of how they love this area too,” states Megan Christianson, Executive Director, Visit Grand Rapids. The marketing collaborative contest was created as a photo share, promote the Itasca Area Attractions, and the Grand Rapids area events that happen over the next 15 weeks.
The grand prize sponsors are: Hidden Haven Resort, Anderson Dental, Children's Discovery Museum, Judy Garland Museum, Forest History Center, Grand Itasca, Janna Salmela Photography, Paddle Hoppers, Timberlake Lodge Hotel, True North Salon & Spa, and Wings and Willows. The weekly prize business sponsors are: Annabelle’s Antique Mall, Baby Steps, Birds of a Feather, Brewed Awakenings, Bridgman Embers, Club Mesabi, Inc., Frame Up, Itasca Trail Sports, Kindred House Co, Lake Lover Vintage, Nana Chelle’s Cafe, Pokegama Golf Course, Salmela Jewelers, Shaw Florist Amish & Antiques, and Yarn Gallery. Each week one business will be featured as the weekly prize sponsor of the $50 gift certificate to their business.
“Take pictures of you enjoying a Grand Rapids/Itasca area shop, restaurant, area attraction, hotel/motel, B&B or resort, at an event or just enjoying the Minnesota's nature beauty that surrounds the area,” shares Christianson. “We have placed selfie signs at approximately 15 photo worthy locations in the Grand Rapids/Itasca area to encourage people to take a picture with the selfie sign and just to take a picture and share.”
For more information about the contest visit the website: www.visitgrandrapids.com/sweepstakes or you can call the Visit Grand Rapids office at 218-326-9607.