Nina’s Coffee Café. (Illustration: Ken Avidor/
Nina’s Coffee Café. (Illustration: Ken Avidor/

Some days trees are all I see.

Today they’re getting fringed in leaves

at the crown. Underneath

there’s a huge ball of root

that nobody sees except my son

as a five-year-old who drew one

exactly as a botanist might,

side view, x-ray vision.

Nobody talks about trees over cappuccino

outside the coffee shop. Friends

laugh over Friday night’s game.

A jogger passes me; a car horn shrieks.

Nothing terrible happens—no stray

bullet, no pedestrian death.

A perfect morning, traffic rolling

toward the freeway, old city trees

dressing up for spring.


Norita Dittberner-Jax was born in Frogtown and has lived in Saint Paul all of her life. She thinks the city is beautiful, with its hills and flatlands congregating around the Mississippi River. Her widely published poetry collections include The Watch, Longing for Home, and What They Always Were.

Illustrator Ken Avidor, the artist who created the cover to the 2014 Saint Paul Almanac and whose full page art appears throughout the edition, is a cartoonist and illustrator living in a loft in Lowertown’s Union Depot with his wife, Roberta Avidor (creator of the Saint Paul Almanac maps). Ken is also the custodian for and frequent contributor to the Twin Cities Urban Sketchers blog found at and can be found at