Black Squirrels

Last night my wife told me I was coming across a bit complain(e)y(?) on here. She told me that it might be better to focus on some of the more positive aspects of what’s happening in the city. She also requested that I be precisely one-third less sarcastic to which I said “YEAH. O K. SURE”

The comment got me thinking though, I probably should focus on something else–or at least write something less technical and a bit more positive.

Black. Squirrels.

Need I say more? Well, yes, obviously I do.

I’ve lived in the Mankato (and North Mankato) for about 7 years now. If you count the time I was in New Ulm (geographically and zoologically the same) you’re pushing 13 years.

Never, ever, have I seen a black squirrel in the area. NEVER.

Until now! A few months ago I saw a black squirrel while driving and said to myself “is that a black squirrel?” My brain sarcastically responded “no it’s a more obvious question. Yes it’s a black squirrel-eyes on the road.”

I knew that they existed because my Aunt, for some reason, would always bring up the fact that they had black squirrels in New London, WI.

Here’s the Wikipedia page on them. Apparently they’re pretty common in the midwest, but I’ve just never seen them in the Mankato area, but alas here they are, in my backyard, chompin’ on nuts.

To pull this back to urbanism/land use/placemaking–A city can continue to surprise you no matter how long you’ve lived there. I think that’s the interesting part, people build cities and when you come across something you find really interesting, you have to say “someone built this, someone thought about it.” When you walk around in a good city there’s a plethora of sensory stimulations. There’s mainly smell, sounds and sights. Most likely all of them created by someone, an extension of the human condition made tangible in the abstruse organism that is a city. To me, this is why we need to create quality buildings, places and cities that have their greatest, most profound ballad at the human scale. Cities represent so much more than a place where people live and the buildings in those cities help to shape humanity, culture and history. We’re kidding ourselves if we think that 120 years from now someone will walk down Madison Ave, get to Wal-Mart and be amazed at what we’ve created.

And that’s just it, we’ve done this all across America, that when you navigate to “Main Street” there’s no black squirrels, it’s Wal-Marts, McDonalds and parking lots.

But when you walk through a city like Brussels, Berlin or Salzburg every corner is a visual feast and a truly unique experience.

I love it and I hope you do too.

Keep your eyes out for black squirrels no matter where you are.

About Matthias Leyrer

Matthias Leyrer is a resident of Mankato looking to restore a fraction of its old glory. He writes about the economic, aesthetic, practical and financial issues facing the city of Mankato going forward.