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August 11, 2009 - Signs of Lanesboro

Blind Subway Sandwich Shop Employee in bathroom on first day of work at Subway in Chatfield, MN:
Doo dee doo... I'll just wash my hands here... (pretends to look in mirror, chuckles to self...) "Hey, what's this sign say here... Gah. Yuck. It's all wet."
E-m-p-l-o-y-e-e-s m-u-s-t w-a-s-h h-a-n-d-s b-e...
Aw, man! Gross. I wish I'd read that before I washed my hands....

Sharon and I took a vacation trip down to Lanesboro, MN to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary (huzzah!) last weekend, and it was pretty cool.
Lanesboro and the neighboring towns are a few hours south-southeast of us here in Minneapolis. All of the towns are mostly pretty small, and the Amish population is very prevalent.
We stayed in Preston, which along with Lanesboro, Harmony, Whalan, and a few other villages borders the Root River which sports a lot of tubing, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, swimming, camping, and has a nice bike/ped rail-trail that's about 40 miles long.
The villages are sort of the southern Minnesota version of "Beach Towns" with the added surreality of Amish horse & buggies trotting down the street avoiding the tanned and scantily clad screaming teenagers on their cell phones. Talk about a dichotomy.

Wherever we went, we seemed to come across all kinds of signs worthy of a photo.
Here comes Sharon down the street looking for Gemutlichkeit when little does she know it is just around the corner.
The concept behind "Gemütlichkeit," pronounced sort of like [ge'mucktliçkite] (and having no direct translation to English in my opinion) is that social tensions and certain environments can cause stress resulting in a feeling of alienation, and Gemütlichkeit is an active way of avoiding these negative influences by going to places and/or meeting with people that are regarded to be "gemütlich."
A gemütlich person is one that takes part in this lifestyle and knows about the tensions he/she is able to cause, and thus tries to avoid these things actively. In this way an 'agreement' is established to make an 'environmentally cozy' site; (ex. patio, garden, cellar, backyard restaurant, living room...) which is also 'socially cozy.'
One characteristic of a gemütlich situation is that you could blot everything else out (past, future, other places and absent people) and yet everything would be fine (in an eternal "here and now"). Germans describe this as "leaving everything at the doorstep" (though a gemütlich place doesn't necessarily have to be inside a house).
Ironically enough, the name of the establishment that had the sign in it's window was called "Das Wurst Haus."
Not quite as ironic in German, it means, "The Sausage House."
Das Wurst Haus was just closing as I was taking the picture and the gemütlich proprietor was beckoning me through the window to come back tomorrow at 9 AM for more Gemütlichkeit, so we ended up at a different restaurant, one where I have to say my sister Beth would be very interested to note that they served both Ring Bologna and Liver & Onion entrees every day.
My sister Beth might in fact consider taking up residence here and be lost inside an obscure antique shop for all eternity.

Direct from Hollywood (It says so on the box) here we have "Fashion-Curl by Shane, 'For Alluring Hair Styles," such as the one shown four times on the box. Need I say more.

That cuts to the chase.
We ended up taking it. It was good.

Couldn't resist a pull-zoom on the bike shop neon. We ended up coming back the next morning and renting some funky recumbent tricycles for a trek along the Root River Trail.
More on that when it becomes less of a painful memory.

Intriguing, yet slightly ominous freehand box sign. At least they didn't tell us to close our eyes first. Good thing because it was about a 40% grade uphill alley.
We were however rewarded with a nice surprise.

Norma's Garden was looking and smelling very spiff. The hummingbirds, bees, and wrens were going nuts and I was going nuts trying to photograph them. Dozens of types of flowers bloomed in every color of the rainbow. It was just before sunset and the spot was most reverent with a nice view of main street Minnesota on a muggy August evening.
Ahh... Das ist Gemütlichkeit.

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