Mississippi River

It takes out-of-town--make that out-of-country, out-of-continent--visitors to remind us: "Where is it?" they inquire, barely out of the airport. And they're not talking about the St. Paul Cathedral, the Minnesota Zoo, or Nye's. They want to see the feature that places Minnesota on the world map, the one schoolchildren in India and street vendors in Senegal can identify. You'd think we'd pay it tribute, celebrate it, put it on T-shirts, but maybe neglect is bliss: It's why there are still secret spots by the shore, places where you can sit and forget yourself while you watch a guy in a dinghy cast for carp. It's here that we take people when they've come from some foreign land; behold them as they scramble down the banks and gently, reverently touch the water's surface, chattering in a tongue of which we understand only one word: Mississippi. Mississippi.


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