Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pizza Night at Two Pony Gardens

As we begin our fourth year here in Minnesota we have nestled into a familiar rhythm of traditions that demarcate the passage of time, the seasons, and move us along the year. Our annual visit to Two Pony Gardens has taken on that significance for me -- it has become more than just a place we enjoy, but reminds me of our growth here in Minnesota, where we were when we arrived and how far we have come in the years since then. Things have changed there, as things inevitably do. But, to me at least, the essence is of what makes Two Pony Gardens special and unique is still there.

Bigger crowds at Two Pony necessitate more horse power. This year Mickey and Pete were joined by Abby and Sven. I was lucky to get a spot behind the coachman on our wagon ride. He held four reigns in his hands sandwiched between different fingers and try as I might to understand the logic of how he shifted them from finger to finger, hand to hand it seemed like a complex puzzle to me. I was in awe. The four horses led us through a trail in the woods around the property. I was reminded of Little House in the Big Woods and wondered what it must have been like to travel everywhere by horse drawn carriage along roads just like the one we traveled on. Bumpy. That's how it must have been.

Another new addition to the Two Pony experience was a puppet show by Open Eye Theater. Not exaggerating, this was one of the best puppet shows I have ever seen. The puppeteers performed The Amazing Cow Boat, which was part of their driveway tour this summer. They tour around performing four different puppet shows in peoples' backyards, front yards, parks and driveways all spring and summer long. We are still singing the catchy refrain around our house -- "part cow, part boat, part…ama-a-zing."

And then, of course, there is the garden...

Mostly dahlias of all shapes and hues with a smattering of echinacea, joe pye weed, tansy, anemone and many other lovelies towering in rows that beg you to run and hide among the colors.

And the long-awaited pizza...

We've learned that patience is of the essence when it comes to dinner at Two Pony Gardens. It is slow food after all. After 3 years of visits we've finally got our system down and brought just enough snacks to tie us over until finally the pizza arrived fresh from the oven. Undoubtedly, the hours of anticipation only make it more delicious.

Isn't this the thing about undiscovered gems -- pretty much the moment they are discovered they lose some of their "geminess." Once the word got out about how lovely and unique and secluded and delicious and quirky Two Pony Garden pizza nights are, they became busier, more expensive, more structured and populated by what felt like a less community-oriented crowd. But does success necessarily imply ultimate corruption? Change is inevitable, but I think Two Pony Gardens is trying to retain the essence of what makes it so magical. And as far as I'm concerned we will continue to return.

In this last picture Eli is sitting in the back of the horse-drawn sleigh that Mickey and Pete take out over snow covered trails in the winter time. I imagine throwing the Minnesota winter and cold into the mix will rekindle some of the essence of Two Pony that may be sacrificed when the crowds descend on summertime pizza nights. A quieter, more intimate escape to the woods with creative people who cherish the Earth and appreciate locally sourced, delicious food. What do you say we meet up there in January, okay?

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