Cafeaplis — coffe + community @ minneapolis

The Secret Sleeping Landscape Beneath our Feet

My neighborhood is full of little churches. Walking straight east from my house to the Mississippi River, which is not quite a mile, I pass four little neighborhood churches. This is the one I can see from my house:


And here it is in 1920:

Ninety-three years ago, the church was being constructed. My house was built in the same year, so had the photographer turned a bit, he or she could have taken a photo of my house too. No such luck. The church was built by a Danish Lutheran congregation whose building in the nearby Seward neighborhood had burned down. That group has since moved on but the building serves the same purpose as it has since 1920 – as a small neighborhood church.

It isn’t the changes to the building that I find intriguing, but seeing a landscape with which I am so familiar before it was completely encapsulated by concrete and tamed with turf grass. It reminds me that my neighborhood was once a “wild” place with soil and trees and animals. It’s a similar feeling I get when I admire one of the many groves of stately oaks that are scattered throughout the neighborhood. While walking down a street, I sometimes happen to peek down an alley and am occasionally startled out of my thoughts by the sight of a half dozen ancient oaks stretching their branches like buttresses over homely garages and trash cans. I imagine the oaks were there first, providing shelter for deer and fox for centuries before the day that roads and streetcars and houses began to take their place. This is what this rephotograph reminds me: that while concrete may cover the landscape today and while we may have removed most traces of the former woodland or prairie, the seeds and soil are still under there somewhere, sleeping. Like a secret landscape beneath my feet.


1 Comment

  • Lovely photo and reflections!

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© Copyright 2006 Adrienne Bockheim.