Know Your Como: Never Underestimate the Power of Sidewalks

The Maierhofers

By Peg Wright

The Maierhofers
The Maierhofers

Moving halfway across the country with children and a pet cat is stressful at the best of times. The Maierhofers did it during the pandemic.

Chris, a pediatrician, and Emilie, the manager of their busy household, relocated to Como Park from Syracuse, New York, after Chris finished his residency and secured a job at Hennepin Healthcare, a position that includes, among other things, working with gender-nonconforming and transgender children and youth.

They could have moved to western Wisconsin, where they both have family, but they wanted the diversity and access to cultural experiences that come with living in a more-urban area. Originally, their home search focused exclusively on Minneapolis. When they couldn’t find anything that suited them, they returned to Syracuse and resumed their house hunt online. That’s when they found their current home in Como Park, which they bought after seeing it via long-distance video tour.

When asked what drew them to this neighborhood, they cited — perhaps unsurprisingly — the park and its amenities. But they also valued the nearby shops, the schools, and the accessibility to downtown Minneapolis where Chris works. Getting even more specific, Chris said he was attracted to the unique yards in this area — many full of statuary and gardens, and a few that could even be called urban farms — which reminded him of his childhood. And it didn’t hurt that they’d never seen such a high concentration of Little Free Libraries in one neighborhood.

One might think that the pandemic negatively impacted their ability to meet people and make friends. The Maierhofers say the opposite has been true. Emilie’s hypothesis is that COVID-related cabin fever is getting more people out into their yards than usual. They’ve met many people on walks with their daughters Linnea, 6, and Cora, nearly 3. Emilie — who particularly enjoys exchanging gardening tips with neighbors — feels that people, starved for human interaction, are even more willing than usual to say hi and start up conversations with passersby.

One family invited them to pick mulberries in their yard; another family they met on Como’s sledding hills gave them ice skates, a gift that has led to fun-filled frolics on Como’s frozen waters.

Looking ahead to a post-pandemic future, Chris and Emilie are eager to attend concerts at the Pavilion and take their daughters to the Zoo and Conservatory without having to worry about social distancing and other COVID restrictions.

In the meantime, if you see a family of four strolling down the sidewalk, say hello. It just might be the Maierhofers.

Writer Peg Wright is author of, lover of words, rabbits, gardening, and all things travel.
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