My planned post for this week’s photo challenge has once again been tabled. While spending a couple of nights in St. Paul, Minnesota for work, I was reminded that an escape may consist of a small oasis of downtime. True solitude was not possible, but some quality “me” time for a few hours in the evening, walking in one of my favorite neighborhoods, and later enjoying dinner with a timeless book in hand was escape enough . . . and it certainly didn’t hurt that my base for the evening was the St. Paul Hotel, across from Rice Park in downtown St. Paul.
For over 100 years, the St. Paul Hotel has been a fixture in downtown St. Paul. Classic and elegant, it is an urban escape.
The front desk clerk checked me in to a lovely room on the top floor, which provided a view of the Mississippi River and the slowly-emerging Minnesota spring landscape.
The view from my room also included the Cathedral of Saint Paul, perched on the hill in the distance.
After a long day of sitting in seminars, the Cathedral beckoned, inviting me to walk up the hill and enjoy the break in the rain, stretching my legs, camera in hand.
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Continuing past the Cathedral, perched atop Summit Hill, I could appreciate the grandeur that already existed when the Cathedral was constructed at the turn of the Twentieth Century by walking past some of the majestic homes lining Summit Avenue. I love old houses and history. Walking along Summit Avenue for an hour provided an escape from the modern day. The crabapple trees were in bloom, not yet at their peak, and lilacs had just begun to fill the air with their old-fashioned fragrance.
I did not begin to consider my evening walk in the context of this week’s photo challenge until after I returned to the hotel. A good friend gave me a 50th anniversary edition of Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift From the Sea, which I had not read in many years. It is a quick read, but a reflective one, and I packed it with me, thinking it might be a nice companion to a quiet dinner. I was in no hurry for my evening meal, and first decided to enjoy a drink at the hotel bar. The bartender mixed up a perfect Cosmopolitan cocktail, and I opened my book.
The 50th anniversary edition of Lindbergh’s book includes an introduction written by her daughter, Reeve. Reeve perfectly describes the timeless attraction of her mother’s writing, when she states:
At whatever point one opens Gift From the Sea, to any chapter or page, the author’s words offer a chance to breathe and to live more slowly. The book makes it possible to quiet down and rest in the present, no matter what the circumstances may be. Just to read it — a little of it or in its entirety — is to exist for a while in a different and more peaceful tempo.
Reading Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s gems of wisdom at the bar, and continuing to read through a late dinner, I read words that make clear why our escapes are necessary — whether near or far, brief or prolonged — they help us appreciate the beauty of the world and relationships around us, by creating space in our mind or space in our schedule to step back and ponder that beauty; beauty that otherwise so easily is lost in the noise of our everyday lives.
“For it is only framed in space that beauty blooms. Only in space are events and objects and people unique and significant — and therefore beautiful. A tree has significance if one sees it against the empty face of sky. A note in music gains significance from the silences on either side. A candle flowers in the space of night. Even small and casual things take on significance if they are washed in space, like a few autumn grasses in one corner of an Oriental painting, the rest of the page bare.”
~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh, from A Gift From the Sea
Regular escapes from our sometimes over-scheduled, multi-tasking lives are essential. An escape need not be complex; it may be as simple as going for a walk or a run and reminding oneself to be mindful of the details passing by, splurging on a favorite dish and slowly enjoying each choice bite, or hunkering down with a favorite book and feeling the world fade into the background as one is fully absorbed by each carefully selected word.
Ciao! ~ Kat
This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge. ”Escape” was this week’s theme. Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.