If you've departed northbound on I-35W via the 46th Street on-ramp this year, odds are you've noticed something to your left: an empty champagne bottle.
Miraculously, it's been sitting atop the median since New Year's Day, as far as this reporter can remember. That means it survived the Super Bowl, the epic April blizzard, daily traffic, clean-up crews, and about 10,000 other variables that tend to knock bottles off ledges. Our readers have taken notice.
Here's what we know: It's dusty, it's weathered, and it once retailed for about $25. The rich, full-bodied Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut "sparkling wine" (we're not playing by geo-specific champagne rules) that once filled it provided some unknown drinker "a light touch of sweetness combine[d] with ripe apple and pear flavors," according to Wine Enthusiast, which rates it 90 out of 100.
And that's just about it.
At this point, the resilient bottle is ostensibly a neighborhood landmark in south Minneapolis, albeit one that's cloaked in mystery. We asked Kevin Gutknecht, director of communications for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, to shed some light on the situation.
So, Kevin, is your department aware of the miracle champagne bottle?
"We are aware of it now," Gutknecht responded by email.
How do you think it survived the blizzard, the plows, the wind, etc.? Any theories?
"How it survived the winter is anyone’s guess. I suppose because it was up high on the median it avoided the snow and wind. Maybe it was frozen to the concrete barrier."
Is it MnDOT's responsibility to clean it up?
"Yes, it is our responsibility to pick it up, although it would be great if people didn’t put things like this on the roadway in the first place. We do not spend as much time in the winter picking up litter. We will do more of that kind of work now, although, again, it would be great if people didn’t litter so we could spend time doing other more critical maintenance work."
It seems like MnDOT, true to our state's trademark demeanor, is a bit passive aggressive about litterbugs. It also seems like the miracle champagne bottle's days might be numbered, but goddammit, it enjoyed one helluva run.
Once the bottle leaves us, be sure to pour one out for it -- and make sure that empty finds its way to a recycling bin.