Calm before the storm

I am sitting at my favorite new place to write, drink, and people-watch, Morrissey’s Irish Pub, on Lake Street in Uptown. I’m lucky tonight, the latest winter storm has shut in most of the city, and I’ve scored the corner booth with my back to the wall and the best view of the joint.

I’m thinking about my nephew, who loves Irish bars and works not far from the Boston Marathon finish line, and about the media-fed distrust of strangers that can so easily be usurped and reframed at gathering places like this.

It’s cozy in here, not too crowded. The bar rail is full of Uptown kids, the ballgame’s on the TV, and the smell of fish and chips warms the heart. The windows bleed streaks of rain, the thundersnowstorm is raging outside, and the streetlights blur and bop with come-hither neon lights advertising Smithwick’s, Tullamore Dew, Guinness.

It’s Christmas-y and jovial and gorgeous, probably the last great blizzard of the season, and I’m still wet from a walk with the dog down to the lake — all of which reminds me to take this moment to pay homage to the beautiful winter we’ve all just survived.

That’s right, beautiful. Every chance I got, almost every time the snow started to fall, I lit out into the night with Zero to revel in its hushed majesty. Much of my quiet time was spent at the Lake of the Isles dog park, marveling at the beasts as they happily romped with each other in fresh powder, chatting with the friendly dog owners, and taking in the routinely stunning view of the downtown Minneapolis skyline, twinkling across the lake.

Several of our late-night walks were done alone, down streets and alleys and around the lake, and were, thrillingly, uninterrupted by you, the people. Most of the time we came upon a scant few others and only a handful of cars, which made for as mystical, natural, and, yes, beautiful a landscape as any mythological getaway you can name, Narnia and Walden Pond included.

We sucked it up. We knew it wouldn’t last. To be in the city, and to experience that great expanse in so much silence, serenity, and wildness, was nothing short of soul food to be savored.

“Nothing is permanent,” former Buddhist monk Thupten Dadak told Twin Cities blogger Flash Garvin earlier this week, about the so-called brutal winter of 2013. “Something happen today, not necessarily happen tomorrow. Suffering is when we have a lot of expectations. We have no choice in the weather. When you think positiveness you create harmony, even with your family or the coffee shop or the bus. People will see that and then they will be enjoying it. Snow or rain becomes beautiful. Your soil becomes very rich and many beautiful flower will grow.”

Which brings us to the Great Spring and Summer of 2013, which undoubtedly portends the locals going crazy with mass flesh orgies and sun worshipping and whatever else passes for Bacchanalia now in Minnesota. Sooner than later, the lakes will became track meets, the roads filled with mosquito-y self-righteous bicyclists, the beaches crawling with semi-nudists, the air clanging with the din of an entire people coming out of hibernation.

But until then, here at Morrissey’s, some of the quiet remains. The snow pounds. The hum of people talking about life, dreams, sex, work, family, love, and everything else a classic Irish pub invites harmonizes perfectly and poignantly with Kirsty MacColl and The Pogues coming over the PA above. Outside the Big Melt looms, but the misanthrope in the corner booth wisely consoles himself with the knowledge that it’ll only be six months until the stillness settles in again.

Jim Walsh lives and grew up in East Harriet. He can be reached at and [email protected]