Splashing Through Seventh Heaven


Our bodies are 70 percent water, Earth's surface is 70 percent water, so I always thought it would be fitting if the City of Lakes could be 70 percent water as well. 

Alas, Minneapolis  is a mere 7 percent water. But while a 10th of what I'd prefer, it's 7 percent more than you'll find in Minneapolis, Kansas, or Minneapolis, North Carolina. Those arid frauds display serious chutzpah using our Dakota-Greek moniker for their dry wastelands. How did our representatives allow this to happen? Didn't anyone think to trademark our city's descriptive title?

I've been thinking about Minneapolis quite a bit of late, something a St. Paul boy will do from time to time (as opposed to your average Minneapolitan, who thinks of St. Paul only when tiring of the crime rate). Water and the number seven have been recurring themes in my musings.

Did you know the average residential customer use of water in Minneapolis is 70 gallons a day? Fitness guru Jack LaLanne says that to be healthy we need to drink only seven seven-ounce glasses of water per day. What are those 70 gallons being used for?

The Minneapolis water treatment and distribution system serves seven cities and is capable of putting out 70 million gallons of water each day. But this City of Lakes operation doesn't use any lake water whatsoever. The mighty Mississippi, the seventh-largest river in the world, supplies it all—a river, by the way, that sends seven billion gallons of water past the Twin Cities every day of the week.

When Minneapolis was born, the water looked different than at any other point along the Mississippi. This urban area grew next to the only bona fide waterfall on that entire 2,300-mile stretch of river. The city became a water-powered industrial complex. At the start of the 20th century it was even called the "greatest direct-drive water power center the world has ever seen."

Yet it was known as the City of Lakes because there were 12 of them—12 lakes to go along with three creeks, three large ponds, five unnamed wetlands, and one magnificent river.

The whole story of Minneapolis is a story of water, liquid gold sent this way during the last Ice Age. This land lay atop an artesian aquifer. It was fed by melting glaciers, and by that giant and ancient Lake Agassiz, some 10,000 years ago.

The town's founding fathers wanted the town to be known as "Water City" and paired the Dakota word for water with the Greek word for city, creating a hybrid term the world had not known before. No other major American city would ever be so aptly labeled.

And no other town in Kansas would ever be so poorly named.

I had a chance recently to visit Minneapolis, Kansas, and searched all day inside its borders for a lake or river—the same arduous task one could perform in the dry hamlet of Minneapolis, North Carolina. I found no water to speak of and told the locals at a gin joint, referred to affectionately as the Watering Hole, that the town ought to apologize to Minnesota and then go rename itself. I even suggested alternatives, using the Dakota name for "dull" and the Greek term for "hell hole."

They were not amused.

I'm not sure which one of those charging farm boys knocked my lights out, but I'm delighted to report that the way they brought me back around was with refreshingly cold water poured generously in my face (where they found it is the question).

I will not be visiting Minneapolis, North Carolina. I'm a Yankee who tends to say what's on his mind, and I'm learning that doesn't always play well in the South. But I'd like that city's name changed as well, and were I in the neighborhood, I'd suggest something along the lines of Limbaughland, or perhaps a new hybrid Native term such as Minne-missing.

For now, however, a toast to the true Minneapolis, fairest city of them all. A toast with a tall cool glass of "minne," the only drink you can slam at a local watering hole, seven times in succession, and claim to be getting healthier with every glass. The only drink that, if withheld, leaves us dead in only (you guessed it) seven days.