Saturday, May 23, 2009

All the chai tea in rural MN, and a new life lister

OK, so I did actually venture out of the Cities this weekend, but just a little ways. I made a trip to Thielen's, a meat market in Pierz, MN. It is one of those legendary small meat markets that has been there for decades. They do a mean business, and the joint was hopping even at quarter after 9 in the morning. I loaded up on various sausage products (Polish sausage, wild rice bratwurst, kratwurst), bacon, hot dogs, and beef sticks. My freezer is now well stocked.

I had an extremely entertaining (at least, entertaining to me) experience in the checkout line at the meat market. The customer ahead of me in line asked the store clerk if there was a coffee shop in town where he could get some chai tea.

I recognize this is perhaps not an usual question, nor is it unreasonable, but you must consider the area. I grew up not terribly far from here (my school always played Pierz in sports). This is a very rural part of central Minnesota with tiny towns; we're talking where farm country meets the northern lakes and forests. In these parts, we like our meat and potatoes, walleye fishing, and ice cold domestic beer. Basically, we really don't do chai tea around here! So the clerk's answer to the customer's question was "No."

This delightful encounter has kept me entertained for much of the day. I've been playing a little game trying to come up with a sort of reverse equivalent of this scenario. I decided it would be if I went to the Napa Valley wine country and asked someone where I could buy a six-pack of Schmidt beer.

What can I say? Little things like this amuse me. :)

Today was not a run day, so I went on a little hike around the neighborhood once I returned home. I saw several great birds, including the little eaglet peeking out of the nest. Mom or Dad was hanging out nearby, so the little guy was taking some time to flex his wings. I can't believe how big he has gotten!

My resident eaglet; not a good photo, but you can see him flapping his wings

I saw a few new birds as well; the red-eyed vireo is back, as is the yellow warbler. And, I also added something new to my life list; a sedge wren. Two of them, actually.

Had they not been so loud, I might have overlooked them. It was as if they were screaming, "Hey you, over here! Look at us!" I heard a piercing, staccato vocalization that was not familiar to me, and I eventually spotted these two wrens with their upturned tails flitting around in the tall grass. I know what a winter wren and house wren look like, but these two were different; they had some distinctive dark streaking and much more detailing on their backs.

I was not carrying my field guide with me, so I memorized all the field markings I could. I confirmed the identity when I got home, and listening to the voice on the Cornell website sealed the deal (I had initially thought they were scolding me, but as it turns out, that is their normal voice!). The sedge wren is now on my life list. Awesome!

My holiday weekend is off to a nice start. Dinner wasn't bad, either. Hot dogs from Thielen's. And their hot dogs are good. Real good.

Summer on a plate

Until next time,

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