Let’s start off with something simple. Did you know that wherever you go, there you are? And if that’s true, then try this on: No matter where you are, there’s a lot worse places to be than here. There might be a quiz at the end so maybe you want to stop here.
Since you still seem to be here, I’ll once again risk suffering the consequences of continuing. "Today" is last Saturday (check with either of my loyal readers and they’ll affirm that I’m usually a week behind you). So for those of you who were involved with something else: It rained most of the day. Along with our beloved prairie, I welcome spring rains because they prove that there really is such a thing as resurrection. To affirm this, just look out your window and tell me you’re not impressed.
Like most folks, the only time I don’t care much for the rain is when I’m stuck outside in it. However, this is not always the case because I do remember when the Thiel brothers canoed down Sixth Avenue. It was during one of those gully washers back in the day when the curbs on Sixth Avenue were exceptionally high. Sixth Avenue follows a creek bed on its way to the Heart River and back in those days a gully washer would turn the street into a swift, white-water river. The pressure from the rush of water in the storm sewer system would blow 100-pound manhole covers 20 to 30 feet in the air and cause a geyser of water to surge out of the manhole.
Traffic would flood out and any car parked on the street usually got washed away. Along with seeing the Thiel brothers canoe by, I recall my Aunt Margaret’s 1957 Chrysler Imperial (the one with rear fenders that stuck up like shark tails) being washed down the street from 207 Sixth Ave. to Barney’s Standard.
Mandan was established in the Heart River bottoms, and I’m fortunate to have my house about 300 feet up above the river bottoms because my picture window gives a never-tiring view of well over 20 miles of the river. This area is probably the last "old growth cottonwoods" close to town, and the bottoms are in the process of exploding to life. All they need is a couple warm, sun-filled spring days and the greens will envelop us.
It’s kind of amazing what we’ve done to this old river. First, the railroad moved it from the south side of old Highway 10 to the north side, then back in the ’50s, we diked the Syndicate area and moved the mouth of the river from Moritz to Fort Lincoln.
Both of these engineering feats left a thing called "the Dead Heart" west of town, in town and around Prairie West golf course. West of town is a quiet rural area; in town is used for storm water; and Prairie West is now surrounded by over 1,000 homes around the Lakewood development. Who knows what the future holds, but the past has nourished life around here for millennia and I think it’s safe to say the Heart is likely to play a part in it.
So there I was, last Saturday, looking out my window, and I had to conclude that the day this column is published will be much greener than it is today. Like I was saying earlier, there sure are a lot worse places to be than here.
Here’s hoping you enjoy wherever you are, because there you are.