I want to capture the stories that walk on in people’s minds but won’t live forever. The stories of our place here at The Angle. The land and those hearty enough to survive, tame it, love it.
These songs will sing on without us but someday we won’t know the words. I want to write them down. I want the songs to sing on. The small line of harmony I might add to the greater melody will be dwarfed by what is to be learned by listening and writing down the stories.
What do the great pines say?
What do the wolves tell us?
What do the ancestors of the people who were here before us whisper down through their scattered and broken generations?
What do the returning songbirds say in their remembered DNA, the water fowl, the great herons, the dancers of the sky and divers of the deep?
What do the machines tell us, loud and cold in the wicked winters of yesteryear? The skinned-knuckle menfolk and their work-ethic ought to be written into legend, not shaken-head dismissed as mythology gone long ago.
What do the women say, those who worked so hard and had so little? The ones who stood beside and not behind, part of the deciding, keeping the balance, when that wasn’t what women did in the rest of the world.
And what of the ones who were still voiceless?
Or the ones who knew what it truly took to lead a good life and cared little what others thought or said?
What of those who were hurt by the land, by the men not connected to the land, by the cruelty of unconscious minds? What suffering did they endure and how may we capture it and learn from it so that others may suffer less?
Where are the stories of childhood, sweet and wild like the honeysuckle, fleet and free like the deer? Where did their play take them? Down what trails? Over what bogs? To what close calls? And what grand reckonings changed them forever? What magic did the land, the sky and the water offer their stories?
What deals did these people make with God?
What is our history in this place?
How did we make this place what we see today? And how might it change as these stories and songs live on?
There is a music that dances on the cattails and rustles though marshes. It will be here long after we are gone.
We have no museums. We have no history books. We have only the memories of an aging few and soon they will be gone. Bring me your stories. I want to write the songs so that they and you may sing on.
(Column 86: Published in the March 20, 2018 issue of the Warroad Pioneer)