Minnesota: The parking area outside the window is filled with 4-wheelers, pickups, and boats, and trailers covered with tarps as it rained last night.
The pink girlie t-shirt at L & M pictures a curvy ‘babe’ holding a smoking rifle over a dead deer—captioned “I just dropped 50 pounds.”
It is all bright green and rainy gray. Good to stay in, better to be out. The smell is a blend of birch buds, baby balmies, damp decay of fallen tree trunks, earth reborn and rehydrated after its frozen slumber, cold cold water burbling in streams and ponds. It is a smell to draw deeply upon because it is only available in a northern spring.
All around it’s Minnesota-speak. And yes people do say ‘ya betcha,’ and chop off the end of each word rather abruptly…no melting away at word’s end like French.
It is all about the weather up here. And there is weather aplenty. This year it snowed into May. Now it rains and greens and grows; after while all will be all crisp and golden with a scarlet scattering of Canadian maples, rusting tamarack and the ever present spruce green of green spruce. Then snow again. Weather!
The Cemetery and the Old Place: Today Teresa and I went up north to the Forest Hill Cemetery and the old place. Me and the house. Same age. Further destruction on both counts. Doctor, dentist, L’Oreal and coffee keep me from cracking and crumbling at quite the same rate as the old house which—each year—just calmly rots and sinks a little further. No help cosmetically or structurally I’m afraid. I am sad—and not. The house is aging and dying like living things do. Not getting torn down and replaced by a new thing. Just going—slowly and quietly in the wind and wet.
Every year. Cemetery to check in with the folks. Teresa’s first visit to Great and Great Great Grandparents. It is an incredibly beautiful place which lies near a small stagnant swampy creek so its green gorgeousness is somewhat bothered by clouds and swarms and armies of mosquitoes. But we stay for a small visit and then it’s out Highway 71 to the old place.
Here it is. Home. Couldn’t wait to get away. Can’t wait to set foot back on this land every year. What a pleasure to tell Teresa my stories of this place. She says, “It must have been special to grow up here.” Yes actually it was.
The following two photos depict the final stages of the death of stuff. One summer about 20 years ago I lived here and took a cultural appreciation class for my Minnesota teaching license and several literature classes at Bemidji State University. The house had already been empty for awhile so the musty smell of wood rot and dampness pretty much permeated everything. My neighbor and I found some old paint in the garage and painted every wall whatever color was available. Hence the dark green and yellow and pink peels. Looked bad but smelled better. Mom’s old chore jacket has been hanging there in every photo taken in the last 10 years. I hope it will be the last thing to go.
AND NOW FOR THE LAND.