There is a street in Minnesota, just as surely as there has ever been a street in Idaho, or British Columbia, or Fiji. It’s a street that some person, at some point, is all but certain to have walked on, traveling away from one moment and approaching another. This person, by process of elimination, is not and has never been me…because the street I’m talking about is Woodland Circle, and you can find it curving around the edge of town in Long Prairie, Minnesota, and I have never—not once—been on this street.
In this article I would like to tell you what it’s like to be on Woodland Circle.
I suppose at least seeing a picture of Woodland Circle would be a good place to start, but I have never seen such a picture. The second option would be to speak with someone who does have a picture of Woodland Circle, something some people might at minimum expect me to have done, but I have not done that either. The people I know who have pictures, have pictures of other things.
A shame. I’ll bet Woodland Circle would really shine for all it’s worth in a snapshot at dawn.
Most people aren’t aware that serious street critics like myself have come up with a standard for assessing street quality known as the Dawn Standard. To use the Dawn Standard, you find the street that needs reviewing, and you walk along it at dawn. You notice the rising golden light and then you reflect on how many other living things on the planet this light connects you to, how many of them are alive because of this light, and then you make note of what your camaraderie with these lifeforms makes you want to do with the rest of your day. However many living beings flash or swim or flap or fly or hop or wave across your mind is the number that represents how good the street is.
The Dawn Standard all but ensures that no street will ever score a higher score than a marsh or a prairie or a river. But a good street-user who’s ready to ugly cry at a sunrise can usefully evaluate the likes of Woodland Circle. Please don’t misunderstand: by talking about this assessment strategy, I don’t want to make it sound like I have been on Woodland Circle at dawn or at any other time; that is not something that has ever happened.
As I sit here writing this, wondering when was the last time Woodland Circle was paved, when for all I know it could also be a gravel road, and I can’t help but reflect on the enduring memories I could have made on Woodland Circle simply by doing a thing I’ve never done before: being on Woodland Circle.