Slow and Steady Wins the Race


Today all traces of snow and ice melted from every nook and cranny of the Little Library in front of my home. This is the first time it has been so completely visible since the end of November. With fewer pedestrians to be concerned with, the books have been somewhat neglected over the winter.

The small box of treasures appears unwrapped and fresh out of the box like a shiny new toy with the remaining snow as a backdrop. The gently curved roof is reminiscent of a quaint English cottage, and there is a plentiful supply of reclaimed redwood that provides ample highlight.

I like to think the redwood portions of the structure could be 2,000 years old, being that this material was planed from older stock rescued from a former structure on the Bayfront. Back in the day venerable redwoods were logged with impunity, so perhaps this wood was alive back in the days of the ancient library of Alexandria, Julius Caesar, Jesus Christ, was still firmly established during the Renaissance and the discovery of America, and ultimately felled some time at the beginning of the last century.

This is a tremendous connection to a large swath of the history of human civilization, and it stands peacefully along the sidewalk waiting to brighten the day of an unsuspecting passerby.

Many other such libraries grace the yards of our neighbors throughout town, but they are often hidden behind massive snowbanks that cast the appearance of bulwarks fit to repel hordes of barbarians. Soon these will be washed away to the storm drains, and our yards will be open and full of life.

I dream of grilling in the front yard again. My grill runs on hardwood charcoal, and boasts a chimney that has me quite smitten. The smells that waft out of this chimney are not manmade, and best the chemicals produced for colognes and perfumes any day of the week.

Slowly cooking your meal and casually taking in a pleasantly cool evening with a beverage of choice in hand is more than just a good idea. It’s the right way to live. It hearkens you back to cooking over open fires, and puts one in touch with the rest of the world in a special way. It’s not just about men grunting over meat on the grill, but rather a slowing down of life and an appreciation for the little things that make life sweeter. It helps us opt out of the rat race and pursue a different course.

Truly, anything you can do to slow yourself and your loved ones down is generally worthwhile. Just this past week I was unfortunate enough to be careening down the expressway in the Cities at merely a click or two above the speed limit. On several occasions larger vehicles bullied us and we were bestowed with several obscene gestures.

At first I wondered how so many folks could be that hostile to little old me, and I started to take it personally. Then I realized that I am not of that tribe, nor do I wish to be. A frenetic pace that causes stress to such a degree that a hothead would put an entire family in danger simply because they cannot continue at 80 mph unimpeded is definitely not my idea of the good life. This is a good reminder to me whenever I continue to struggle with my own lack of financial success. Most of us here in Duluth choose another definition for “success.”

I do hope you are enjoying the recent warm spell. Take your time and take care. Stop and smell the roses. Enjoy your neighbors. Read a good book. Slowly cook your food outside in whatever manner suits you. Write the occasional handwritten letter to a good friend. Enjoy life more fully as a pedestrian. Ride your bicycle the two or three miles to your destination and arrive refreshed. Chew your food! All of these things are beneficial, and indeed even beautiful. Such practices will enable you to enjoy life more fully and not pass by the many blessings and even miracles that go unnoticed by our harried brethren.

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