The Great Twin Cities Treasure Hunt — CLUES EXPLAINED
#1
INTRODUCTION
  • "First" is meant to suggest Fir Street, which defines the western border of Taylor Park, and terminates in a dead end at Highwood Preserve—the hiding spot for this hunt.
  • The first letter of each line in the introduction spells "FAKE NEWS," which is meant to warn hunters of the red herring in this hunt: The first letters in the the second through twelfth clues spell BRYN MAWR LUCE LINE SOFT BALL RAIL ROAD AREA LLRE DHER RING, or "Bryn Mawr, Luce Line, softball, railroad are all red herring."

CLUE #1
  • "hit the bricks" is meant to suggest a small pile of bricks at the base of a lone tree in the western part of Highwood Preserve, beneath which was hidden a small pouch, containing the official jewel.
  • "It's not only true of the beautiful view, but the item for which you vie: Deep and blue, in a sparkling hue, as water reflects the sky" is meant to suggest the views of Pig's Eye Lake and Downtown Saint Paul (and Minneapolis, on a clear day) near the hiding place, as well as the color of this year's sapphiric jewel.
  • "snag" is meant to suggest a solitary tree within the preserve, at the base of which the jewel was concealed.
  • "in the bag" is meant to suggest this hunt's MacGuffin—a small black pouch concealed by bricks at the base of a solitary tree.
  • The first letters of each line in the second stanza spell "IDES," which is meant to further alert hunters to the hunt's "FAKE NEWS" red herring, and to "beware the Ides of March"—the anniversary of the betrayal and assassination of Julius Caesar (and the date of the clue's publication), March 15th.

CLUE #2
  • "Rabbits, birds... squirrels... deer" and "foxes" are all animals you might see in the "woods" or on the grassy "knoll" that constitutes Highwood Preserve, which is home to much "wildlife."

CLUE #3
  • "Red of brick and gold of grass, with earth of deepest brown" is meant to suggest the bricks that concealed the jewel, and the "field" behind Taylor Park that is home Highwood Preserve.

CLUE #4
  • "park" is meant to suggest searching in a park—in this case one adjacent to another.
  • "outdoing pals" anagrams to "Point Douglas" Road, which runs parallel to the western edge of the preserve.
  • "scenery" is meant to suggest the scenic nature of the park, and the views to the west.

CLUE #5
  • "Lo and behold" is a song by James Taylor, and is meant to suggest Taylor Park.
  • "safe harbor" and "refuge" are meant to suggest Highwood Preserve.
  • "soaring arbor" is meant to suggest high wood.
  • "pine" and "oak" are two of the more common species found in the preserve.
  • "park" and "meadow" are meant to reinforce looking near Taylor Park at Highwood Preserve (itself a "passive park," according to St. Paul Parks and Recreation).
  • "dispersing" anagrams to "Springside" Drive, which runs parallel to the southern edge of the preserve.

CLUE #6
  • "agreed to strike" anagrams to "Oakridge Street," which runs parallel(-ish) to the northern edge of the preserve (Both cities have seen their share of labor disputes).
  • "The open spaces that you seek are not at all alike" is meant to suggest two parks, adjacent to each other (or at least in close proximity), that share few—if any—amenities: Taylor Park, with its paved path, playground, benches, and picnic tables, seems more civilized and intended for people, while Highwood Preserve is intended far more as a space for nature and wildlife.

CLUE #7
  • "Believing is seeing" and "the adage may not be so sound" are meant as a further warning to the hunt's red herring.
  • "mayoral tussle" anagrams to "Samuel S. Taylor"—the namesake of Taylor Park (Both cities will vote for mayor this November).

CLUE #8
  • The "basin" in question here is Pig's Eye Lake, which can be seen from hiding place in Highwood Preserve.
  • "forgive the craftsmanship of this amateur mason" is meant to suggest the small pile of bricks that concealed the jewel.
  • "paisley geek" anagrams to "Pig's Eye Lake."
  • "Look out on the skyline" is meant to suggest the Downtown Saint Paul (and Minneapolis) skyline(s), visible throughout the preserve and from the hiding spot.

CLUE #9
  • "Ring the changes" is meant to suggest hunters consider changing their approach (particularly if hung up on the first letters-based red herring), potentially toward anagramming.
  • "galumphing" and "Jabberwocky" are made up words from Lewis Carroll's poem; "Jabberwocky" itself is defined as "gibberish."
  • "if you've outfoxed our Jabberwocky" is meant to suggest hunters disregard first letter-based red herrings in favor of anagrams.
  • "glade" is meant to reinforce searching Highwood Preserve—a large clearing south of Taylor Park.
  • "goldenrod and lily-leaved twayblade" are two common plant species that grow in Highwood Preserve.
  • "first tree" anagrams to "Fir Street," which defines the western border of Taylor Park, and terminates in a dead end at Highwood Preserve.
  • "Your feet already know where they want you to be" is based on the lyric "I guess my feet know where they want me to go" from the James Taylor song "Country Road," which could in turn be taken to suggest Brookline Avenue—a dirt road along the southern edge of Highwood Preserve.

CLUE #10
  • "so far away" could be taken to suggest the Carole King song of the same name, for which James Taylor recorded guitar.
  • "Edge" is meant to suggest searching in a park near the edge of town.
  • "neighbor huts' glint" anagrams to "Burlington Heights," the original name given to the Highwood Hills neighborhood.
  • "conflagration and precipitation" is meant to suggest the James Taylor song "Fire and Rain," and that hunters search Highwood Preserve at Taylor Park.

CLUE #11
  • "that restless feeling's been preying on your mind" is from the opening line of the song "Something's Wrong" by James Taylor.
  • "Lurking in the forest, neighboring the borderline" is meant to suggest the Saint Paul city limits, which are a stone's throw away from Taylor Park and Highwood Preserve.
  • "whose grip hovered" anagrams to "Highwood Preserve"—the jewel's hiding place.

CLUE #12 (Unpublished)
  • "Depending on us to spell it out will lead to complications" is a reminder to hunters that relying on us to give away the exact location of the prize—even in twelve clues—would be a mistake.
  • "Your plan needs alterations" is meant to suggest finding a "tailor," and altering your hunt accordingly.
  • "Et tu, Brute?" is meant to suggest betrayal, while recalling the first clue's "IDES" warning.
  • "Remember to beware the Ides and watch out for fake news" reminds hunters of the warnings from both the introduction and the first clue.
  • "Run down the stairs from one park to the next, then up the lane" is meant to suggest taking the stairwell from Taylor Park into Highwood Preserve (one of its only access points).
  • "If you're out of the woods and in the clear, head west across the plain" is meant to suggest searching the western portion of the preserve, while referencing the title (and lyrics) of Taylor Swift's song "Out of the Woods."
  • "Go through the last eight clues to find and solve the anagrams." Those anagrams, each found at the end of the clue's third line, were:
    • Clue #4: "outdoing pals" = point douglas
    • Clue #5: "dispersing" = springside
    • Clue #6: "agreed to strike" = oakridge street
    • Clue #7: "mayoral tussle" = samuel s. taylor
    • Clue #8: "paisley geek" = pig's eye lake
    • Clue #9: "first tree" = fir street
    • Clue #10: "neighbor huts' glint" = burlington heights 
    • Clue #11: "whose grip hovered" = highwood preserve
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