For those who enjoy outdoor walks, February is a cruel month.
No matter how much you bundle up, it’s never enough. At least that’s my experience as a non-native Minnesotan who would rather buy fish at the grocery store than catch one crouched over a hole in the ice.
But, when the temperatures rise above 20 or so degrees, the sun bright, and the air still, there is nothing better than a walk to calm the mind. The answers to most quandaries I face became clearer when my legs move.
That happened to me on a walk this week around Purgatory Creek Park. Stomping in a pair of old sneakers that I came to regret about 100 yards down the trail, I was on a mission of sorts.
Many compelling anecdotes and quotes end up snipped for brevity or context in a lot of my more detailed stories. No matter how wondrous the quip, if it’s out of place with the rest of the story then it’s out of circulation.
On my way back to my car, it occurred to me: Why not take all these bits and pieces hidden away in my reporter’s notebook and package them in a column?
So, flash forward a couple of days. Here is the first installment of that enterprise, mined from my reporting or tidbits that I’ve come across in the community.
Indeed, it was a productive walk. Next time, though, I’ll wear warmer shoes.
Mike Rogers knows a lot of stories about Eden Prairie Cemetery. He told me some of them while we talked in the city’s oldest cemetery on a warm day last fall.
I interviewed him (see story here) to learn more about the plans to transfer cemetery ownership and management to the city. Rogers, the longtime caretaker, had decided to retire.
(The City Council agreed earlier this month to take over ownership and management of the cemetery on March 1.)
We talked about that and the cemetery’s history. It’s been around for nearly 160 years; many of the city’s early settlers are buried there or at Pleasant Hill Cemetery.
For starters, he pointed across the cemetery to a big oak tree shading several graves.
“I have to tell everybody this because it’s so amazing to me,” he said. “That’s two separate trees that over 150 years have grown together,” he said. “So, it’s always my looking at things saying things will come together the way they’re supposed to.”
One early resident he mentioned was Robert Anderson, who settled on the west side of the lake that now bears his family name.
As Rogers described it, Anderson’s “great story” is how he stood up to a couple of bullies from Bloomington who wanted his land.
“They said, ‘We’re going to come over here with 1,000 men and chase you off,’” Rogers said. “Mr. Anderson looked at them and said, ‘You may come with 1,000, but you won’t leave with 1,000.’ And they never showed up.”
His wife, Mary Jane Hill Anderson (1827-1924), recounted that and many other stories in the autobiography she wrote when she was 95 years old.
“She talks about how she came from the garden one day, and an Indian was sitting in the kitchen rocking the baby,” Rogers said. “The baby was probably crying, and he came in to rock the baby. He would come back once a year until he didn’t. She figured he passed on by that point.”
With the 2022 Bejing Winter Olympics nearing its end, I remembered a story I wrote in 2018 for (the now closed) Southwest Metro Magazine.
I spent hours interviewing former Olympians who have called the southwest metro area home at one time or the other.
Three of the athletes — Rachel Bootsma, Ben Husaby and Allison Pottinger — had Eden Prairie ties.
Of the three, only one medaled.
That was Bootsma, who won gold as a member of the winning U.S. swim team in the 4×100-meter medley relay at the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
“I often forget the magnitude of my accomplishment until I show (the medal) to others, and they are in awe of it,” the EP native now living in Dallas told me at the time.
Husaby, an EP native who now lives in Bend, Oregon, participated in cross-country skiing during the 1992 Albertville, France, Olympics and the 1994 Lillehammer, Norway, Olympics.
Pottinger, an EP resident, participated in women’s curling during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and as an alternate at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Despite not winning medals, they are content.
“I have positive recollections from my experience,” Husaby told me then. “And for me, that was good enough.”
“Both Olympics were amazing,” Pottinger said at the time. “The best ice makers in the world are there, the best rocks. There’s nothing to be unhappy about at the Olympics.”
Sydney Raley and Garrett Guzman were recently honored at an Eden Prairie City Council meeting for saving the life of a customer choking on a chicken nugget at McDonald’s.
Police Chief Matt Sackett awarded Raley and Guzman each a letter of recognition for coming to the aid Miriam Swirski-Lubin, who also was in attendance.
Sackett said that Raley and Guzman’s ability to assess the situation quickly, remain calm, and administer emergency aid in a stressful situation saved Swirski-Lubin’s life.
Raley, 15, of Edina, was working the drive-through at the Eden Prairie McDonald’s when she noticed Swirski-Lubin choking.
She jumped out of the window, pulled Swirski-Lubin from her car, and started the Heimlich maneuver. Guzman, who had been walking in the parking lot, answered Raley’s calls for assistance. He ran over and continued performing the Heimlich maneuver, ultimately dislodging the food from Swirski-Lubin’s throat.
By the time police officers arrived, Swirski-Lubin’s airway was clear, and she did not need medical attention.
The story of how Raley jumped into action to help Swirski-Lubin ran in media outlets across the country. For her bravery, McDonald’s rewarded her with a check for $250.
Stuart Sudak is co-editor of the Eden Prairie Local News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.