By Molly Butler

This week I was out with the dog, walking the same little gravel road we always take. Due to the recent heavy rain, some of the ditch had worn away and eroded down. I left the path to go explore the changed landscape and stumbled on a beautiful surprise: a wild strawberry patch clinging to the steep hillside, just beginning to perk up and turn green.

Everyone is at least a little familiar with the closing lines from that Robert Frost poem.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.

We have a tendency to think the less traveled road is superior, that it is better to be bold and original and to plot out a new course. It’s part of our western philosophy: always striving and discovering.

There are certain walks I take over and over, the ones near my house or with my parents in their neighborhood. As a dog walker in the cities, I would take the same dogs around the same blocks day after day. When I was a kid, I went to play in the ravine and there were only two paths to take; either upstream or down. There are some paths I’ve only taken once; hikes in Colorado and Maine, a trek on Mount Fuji, that early morning when dad and I got up before the sun and climbed to the top of Black Elk Peak.

The point is, no matter how well-traveled or wild, it’s not so much the road but the fact that you take it.

Those famous lines, undeniably beautiful, are almost always plucked out of context. We forget lines like,

The passing there
had really worn them about the same,
and both that morning equally lay.

So really, the two paths weren’t different at all. They were both “just as fair.” We also forget that Frost prefaces his famous lines with,

I doubted if I should ever come back
I shall be telling this with a sigh.

He is “sorry [he] could not travel both.” There is a certain amount of regret; there is only time for one path to be taken. The road is well-traveled by some, but to Frost, both paths are equally novel and unknown. So the poem is not so much about the value of striking out on a new path, but the remorse and discontent we can suffer when we spend too much time ruminating over what could have been. Frost doesn’t really have anything to say about the path he chose, whether there were animals or birds singing, wildflowers, strangers to meet. His poem is about being stuck on “The Road Not Taken.”

Alright. We don’t need to spend all day on literary analysis. It’s almost the weekend, after all. The point is, no matter how well-traveled or wild, it’s not so much the road but the fact that you take it. And somehow, there is always something unique in every walk. A plant, a stone, an animal, litter to pick up, a conversation to have, a scent, a realization, a strawberry patch. When you come to a crossroads, make your choice. Then, when the choice is made, don’t get stuck. Remember to notice and admire the road you’ve taken.

Friday

It’s time for the Spring Blood Drive. Sign up with the Red Cross and head to the North Mankato Police Annex at your scheduled time. Spots are filling fast, and walk-ins will not be permitted, so register ASAP!

Head to Bumbelou’s Mankato or New Ulm locations for their Build an Easter Basket event! Choose three items and pick a free basket to take home, while supplies last. Bumbelou has outdoor toys, books, games, crafts, clothing and more. Plus, they’re taking 50% off everything on the sale rack, so swing by and get some great deals.

As always, the North Mankato Taylor Library has a host of crafts and activities for all ages. Kiddos ages 2-6 will be crafting Foam Cup Bunnies! Register online or in-person and swing by between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to grab your take-home craft. Ages 9-17 can pick up supplies for their free craft, Picture Frame Glass Painting. Registration required.

Who’s hungry? The Eagle Lake American Legion will have their Tator Days Fundraiser from 6-8 p.m. Just $8 gets you a burger OR shrimp basket with fries or onion rings. This event is carryout or dine-in, with Bingo starting at 7 p.m. All proceeds go towards Tator Days. You can head to New Creation Church in Mankato for their no-contact Free Food Giveaway. Pre-packaged food boxes containing assortments of vegetables, fruits, dairy, meat, and milk gallons are available at no cost, with no eligibility requirements.

Let’s turn up the music. Chris Bertrand will be at the Circle Inn in Mankato, playing from 5-7 p.m. High Strung will be playing at the Wow! Zone from 6-9 p.m. and the Oleander Saloon will have KillinTime performing ‘50s, ‘60s and country variety from 7-11 p.m.

Saturday

Head to Drummer’s Garden Center in Mankato for their Kid’s Spring Planting Weekend! Register online for a 30-minute time slot. Plating experts will help you and your little ones plant annual baby plants. There will be both sun and shade varieties to choose from, and Drummer’s professionals will help your plant grow, with pickup available May 11-31. This is a wonderful opportunity to get your kiddo learning and practicing their green thumb.

There’s always something exciting on the farm. This weekend is the Saint Peter Farm Toy Show! Head to the Nicollet County Fairgrounds this Saturday or Sunday from 9 a.m. through 4 p.m. to check out antique and collectible toys, trains, cast iron pedal cars, and so much more. Admission is only $3. This year the annual Local Foods & Farmers Expo will be held virtually via Zoom from noon to 4 p.m. This event highlights local growers, producers and farmers. This year will highlight local farms, provide breakout rooms for farmers and customers to connect directly, and showcase some keynote speakers from the region.

Hope you’re hungry! The Madelia Fire Department is hosting a Pork Chop Dinner. This takeout and delivery fundraiser will serve up chops, slaw, dessert, and their World Famous Twice Baked Potato. Call in starting at 4 p.m. to order your dinner, available through 8 p.m. Proceeds benefit the Madelia Fire Relief Assn. and, in part, life and property-saving equipment. Or swing by LocAle Brewing Company in Mankato to try their Norselander IPA and their brand new Scarletta, made with strawberry and hibiscus. Scotty Bigs food truck, recently voted one of southern Minnesota’s top 5 food trucks, will be at the taproom with ribs, brisket, mac & cheese, and the rest of their mouthwatering menu. They’re serving from 5-8 p.m.

Sunday

Let the games begin! Hop on the Bunnies on Belgrade “12 Day Scout Law Scavenger Hunt!” Starting this Sunday, clues will be released daily, leading to a local business. The first person to decipher each day’s clues will win the prize basket of the day. This event is free and open to the public, so keep an eye on Facebook for clues. Atlantis Hobby will host Yu0Gi-Oh! $6 entry with prizes from 1-5 p.m., as well as a Digimon Event, also from 1-5 p.m. Atlantis Hobby’s helpful staff is happy to assist players of all experience levels. Prizes and giveaways are available, so head on down.

Bonus: Safe Walking

I hope everyone gets a chance to get out and enjoy the improving weather. While you’re out, make sure you remember basic safety precautions.

  • Follow all traffic laws and be cautious at intersections.
  • Be a good neighbor and pick up after your pet.
  • If walking in the woods, know how to identify and treat poison ivy.
  • Ticks are back in business, and Lyme Disease is no joke. Make sure to cover exposed skin during possible exposures, like exploring tall grass and wooded areas, and do a tick check on yourself, children and pets after every excursion.
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats are all your friends.
  • On particularly long or meandering hikes, I like to take along a basic first aid kit.
  • And as always, remember to hydrate!

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Weekend High Notes is a regular feature by Molly Butler. Molly covers weekend events, live music, and culture in the Greater Mankato Area. Suggestions are welcome using the MankatoLIFE contact form.

 

Author


  • is a writer, gardener, and animal lover. She returned to the Mankato area after completing her MFA in Creative Writing at Hamline University.