On a street corner in Eden Prairie’s wooded north-central area a cardboard sign promises ‘LEMON AID’. Boys are playing hoops in Edenvale Park. An arched shot hits a perfect two-pointer. The Covid-19 protocols are lifting. Normal feels, almost, normal.
Pizza is normal.
Gina Maria’s Pizza as well as Chalet Pizza, a small-business victim of urban renewal in Hopkins, have survived the pandemic. Both handle takeout and delivery orders a mile apart on Valley View Road. Gina Maria’s is run by a family named Olson. New York Italian pies courtesy of Norski-Americans.
At Menard’s on Saturday, the garden supply section is the size of Vermont. Inside are folks in need of dirt therapy. One desperate gent pushes a cart filled with sod rolls.
Amidst the canyons of merchandise, the search for the mythical gaskets begins. It is said they prevent spray from jetting out from a garden hose outlet. An aisle clerk points to “Plumbing” on the second level. Another clerk winds a quarter mile not towards gaskets, but towards “rubber washers”.
There are exactly one bazillion items at Menards. Eventually, check-out involves a packet of 10, quarter-sized rubber washers, cost $2.48. Menards now holds one bazillion minus one… or 10? They’re made in China. Hose leak and thirsty lawn issues solved – courtesy of international trade agreements.
On Summerhill Drive, kids are yelping while running through sprinklers to the sound of wiffleball ‘bonks’.
Last year strangers walked their dogs, jogged, or rode their bikes on the neighborhood’s street loop. Greetings and “How’s it going?s” were heartfelt, leading to friendly chats. Those chats didn’t need a laptop or Zoom password. This spring, in-person street encounters are less frequent. People are back in their cars.
Cigar Jones, a Minnetonka smoke shop/lounge is operated by Todd, a fellow Eden Prairian. His cave and humidor serve as a retreat of sorts for a number of Prairie guys. A few weeks back it staged a golf event at the Bent Creek Course, a ten-minute jog from our neighborhood. Todd was absent, but the brother bear at the cash register growled, “Hey Jeff. How ya doing?” It’s good to be king – one without a mask.
Wednesday evening is the meet-up with Steve and Beryl at their annual, Bluestem Lane block party in southeast Eden Prairie. Steve is handing out watermelon slices. They are middle-aged cheerleaders in this multi-generational, southeast EP neighborhood. A gourmet food truck is selling pasties, kids are playing games on a front lawn. A dozen new best friends.
This is the new norm. At noon Thursday there’s a meet-up with Tom Brouellet from Spring Park at a Round Lake baseball field. He’s in the West Metro Senior Softball League playing for the MoJos. Some of the players are in their 80s, he says.
Tom steps to the plate. He takes a couple of swings at a big white sphere before grounding out to the second baseman. Melodramatic cat calls and laughs prompt his bold smile.
The old boys of summer on a Round Lake diamond. Normal?