Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Living as I do in Flatland, finding some proper elevation can be a difficult quest. Down the Mississippi River aways, past Minneapolis and through most of St. Paul, one will come upon some historic bluffs above the water. They were well known, even before the white man, there are numerous Indian burial mounds on the plateau above while in the twenties bootleggers used the caves below to store their goods. The explorer Jonathan Carver "discovered" a large cave there, it was used by the Native Americans for gatherings and ceremonies. In recent times, most of the cave was destroyed to make room for a railroad, the bluffs are notorious for midnight drinking parties by reckless youths, the occasional fatality is not unknown.

Into this locus I brought my then pre-teen sons. Child endangerment? Perhaps. We had a good talk beforehand about the dangers this place possessed; they were duly impressed. We had a good time clambering up and down the cliffs. One of them eventually made it a habit, with various mountain and rock climbing treks throughout the American West, New Zealand and Antarctica. The other son sells rock music in a Media store.

I often wonder what kind of parent I've been, I managed not to have killed 'em (although once did drop a vise on the eldest's head) and they haven't killed me (yet- the Boundary Waters trip last fall came close!) I did put them in harms way that day, if only a little. Kids have to be exposed to the natural world sometime, even if it somewhat dangerous it has to be better than just living a life of computer games and TV.

By Professor Batty


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