When you live in a condo building, you can put your head down and mutter “hello” as you pass fellow occupants in the garage, or build relationships with your neighbors. Husband and I have gotten to know many of our neighbors over the last year and have reaped the benefits of being part of the community. One of the many benefits of knowing and trusting people that live close to you is getting built in cat-sitting services. We regularly watch neighbor kitties, and in turn, they watch our cat when needed. This is Brutus, who now talks to me and lets me scratch his back because he recognizes me as part of his community.
In 2016, I am starting a new monthly photo project called, “Happiness Is …,” a focus on stories that bring joy to my life.
For New Year’s Eve, Husband and I decided to drive Highway 61 and see what we could find along the way. After rambling from Minnesota to Wisconsin, we ended up in Dubuque, Iowa for the night.
Dubuque’s Main Street was active with college students ready to party, but Husband noticed an establishment a block away from the activity that looked more our speed for a post-dinner cocktail. We decided to check it out.
The Lounge was nearly empty when we walked in, but quickly began to fill with locals who knew the bartenders, particularly “Mary,” a tiny white-haired woman who could barely see over the bar rail. She turned out to be the owner.
When Mary learned that we were from Minnesota, and had picked her bar over the rest because it looked like a place we would meet friendly people, she wanted to give us something to remember her by. Mary proceeded to reach into the cooler, set this small milk jug on the bar, and give us her knock-out smile.
“Apple Pie” is Mary’s homemade liqueur, and without much effort you can taste warm apples and a crumbled brown sugar topping. Her gift was gracious and kind, and not quickly to be forgotten.
In the Lowertown art district of Saint Paul, Minn., a new outdoor exhibit is on display, and involves much of the community that calls Lowertown home. Inside Out Lowertown features artists and culture makers who live and/or work in the neighborhood. Lowertown touts having the largest concentration of artist live/work studios in the United States, so it is only fitting that the project has sprinkled over 175 photographs of the artists outside, on their warehouse studio spaces.