I’ve been to Duluth and back. It was a spendid trip, wrought with enough activity to make my head spin. I caught up with tons of my professors and old friends, and made some new friends as well. The entire time we were up to absolutely no good, from sneaking lit cigars through the Fitger’s complex, to pilfering free kegs from the Lake Superior Brewing Company, to shouting profanities in front of foreign tourists at Palisade Head, to… well… to hear the rest you’ll just have to ask when you see me in person, now, won’t you?
If I had to sum up Duluth in one word, that word would be idiosyncratic. The town is like that weird uncle that everyone talks about, you know, the quirky one who fills the heads of his nieces and nephews with filthy lies about the world writ large. “That’s right, lad! Apples are in the meat food group because they grow on the backs of these large animals called apple beasts. I know this because I actually lived on an apple beast farm when I was about your age. If you ask your mother she’ll deny all of it, though, cuz she doesn’t think you’re old enough to know this stuff.”
As I was driving to Duluth I got to thinking what it was about that town that I liked so much. I thought of things like 8th Street Video (which is actually located on 9th Street) and the House of Donuts (which is open until the wee hours of the morning, serves tacos, and is the single place on Earth where I’ve nearly gotten in a fight with someone), which are great, but far from enough to justify the love I hold for Duluth. I mean, it’s quirky, and it’s rather pretty at times, but what was it that makes Duluth a cool city?
I pondered this as I dropped over the hill and saw Duluth and Superior unfold before me. Another feature, however, commanded my attention. Nestled between the two towns happened to be Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world. The day was windy and she was wildly angry, and even from miles away I could see huge whitecaps and crashing waves.
Somehow I had forgotten the Lake. Instantly I fell in love with her again, her grace and power and off-kilter mood swings. The Lake looked different every day that I spent in Duluth, rough or glassy, in shades of blue, green and steel… it was incredible.
The Lake sets the tone, sets the mood for the town of Duluth. As the Lake changes, Duluth changes as well. In all honestly, the weather during my trip was absolutely horrid, cold and rainy every day. I saw the sun a total of three times during the four days I spent in Duluth, and yet the mood throughout remained cheery. Perhaps it was graduation and the school year coming to an end or the elation of being in the company of old friends, or perhaps it was the free sixteen gallon keg of microbrew, but something was definitely buoying everyone in spite of the grey skies.
Come to think of it, it very well may have been the beer. I think we drank for eight hours straight on Saturday.
“I’m up for it.”