Warroad Pioneer Assignment EOY Wrap-up for 2015

Column 17.5 Published in the Decebmer 22/29 double issue of the Warroad Pioneer

When I chose the title of this column early in 2015, or rather when it revealed itself to me, I understood very little about the concept of grace. As the events of the year unfolded and as I endured the growing pains of yet another emotional upheaval on life’s journey, grace became much more than just a concept.

Slowly at first, I started noticing all of the angels waiting in the wings for us to accept their aid. They and the aid came in many different forms, a compliment, encouragement, extra work, a shoulder, a smile or hug or phone call right when it was needed, a 2-year old’s reminder that her papa loved me too even if he wasn’t around anymore.

Angels are neighbors, family members, a purring kitten, a well-timed song, the kind owner of a grocery store, extra volunteers for Angle Days, and a hundred more and varied examples. When I paused for a moment during the pell mell rush of daily life, I saw that they were around me in abundance, and the benevolence of the universe rode on their wings like a warm swath of moonlight on the darkest night of the soul.

I’ve always believed that the universe, or God if you prefer, doesn’t give you more than you can handle. And in fact, you get exactly what you need to keep chugging along productively on your chosen path. Living in grace seems to be operating with an abiding faith that life is working For you not Against you, that God is on your side, that this is indeed a friendly universe, despite all news reports to the contrary.

Grace is not the real estate of the religious. You don’t have to live in righteous piety, though it doesn’t hurt, to experience divine flow. Grace belongs to all of us when we choose to remember. Moving to The Angle and all of the pendulum swings that have come with that choice has been yet another toll of the bells awakening me from my slumber. And with each little bit of awakening, I can see more clearly how deeply asleep we all are.

Looking back over the year in review, I realized I was always working on this or that. Here are five practices that have helped me awaken bit by tiny bit during this tumultuous year.

G-Gratitude

It’s easy to practice gratitude when things are going well, but what about finding grace in the suffering, seeing goodness in the hardships, saying Thank You for the harsh words. If I find myself complaining or if I say or hear someone else say the word “hate”, my practice is to find appreciation for that which I am judging. Instead of hating chapped lips, for example, I was able to feel gratitude for the reminder to drink more water and refill the humidifier. I’m still working on feeling grateful for Fox News, that’s been a tough one for me.

R-Reality

I don’t get a vote in what is. It happens the way it happens and I can either accept it and hopefully learn to love it, or I can suffer. That doesn’t mean I’m a doormat. It means that reality rules. Reality is king. Reality is God. My practice is to simply be aware of my feelings to the extent that they tell me when I am fighting reality. My suffering comes about when I fight what is.

A-Attachment

For a time, even the most benign interaction with my ex would leave my insides writhing in angry knots. All of the rage and self-pity at the way this part of my story turned out would then unfurl itself in an impatient mudslide of words torrential.

I had gotten attached to my plan. For many years, I truly believed that he was supposed to be a certain way and our relationship was supposed to be a certain way. But we all know what happens when we tell God our plans. I imagine she smiles, pats us on the head and amusedly says, “back to sleep now, little one.” When I experience stress, I understand I’ve gotten attached to something untrue.  This practice rolls in with nicely with the previous one. Pay attention to my stress to learn where I’m attached to something that isn’t reality.

C-Certainty

The older I get, the less certain I am about everything. Not knowing is a wonderful place to be. All possibilities are open to you. Magic is everywhere. There was definitely a time in my life when I thought I knew it all, and I’m humbled that people put up with me. Now, I can see that every time I think I’m certain about something, I’m not seeing its beautiful truth. It helps having an inquisitive toddler at my side. My practice is to try to see beyond the labels that we put on everything and everyone around us. “We call it an eagle, my love, but it is more than just its name, as is everything. It is a powerful bird of prey that fishes the quiet coves of our meandering lake or cleans the carcass of a road-killed deer. Look at its snowy white head and its wide wings. Many see it as a symbol of freedom and strength.  It would eat our new kitten for breakfast given the chance.”

E-Enough

I am enough. Even in all of my shortcomings, my ridiculous flaws, my concerted efforts that amount to not much at all, through grace, I am enough. Through grace, I will always have enough.  My practice is, again, a simple awareness exercise to notice when I am feeling lack or less than. It does take practice. Negative feelings can spiral into much bigger problems, and eventually disease, if left unchecked. I have to pay attention to how I feel throughout the day. Slowing down with some deep breaths or by looking in a mirror seem to help. I’ll use it as a mantra when I walk, repeating until the words sound almost non-sensical, “I am enough. I have enough.” It helps.

***

Thanks for wandering along this winding road with me throughout 2015. I wish you all a wonderful holiday season filled with the music of love and laughter.

 

The purpose of suffering

Column 17 Published in the December 22/29 double issue of the Warroad Pioneer

The snow has finally arrived, covering up the bleak browns and grays of our mild, shortened winter and also masking some precariously thin ice. We’ll have a picture-perfect white Christmas, but now we need a whole lot of sub-zero temperatures to counter the insulation the snow offers.

It’s definitely a winter to stay on the marked trails, which, of course, is always a good idea on this unpredictable lake. This year, let’s all go a bit further to remind and enforce responsible winter fun. Tragedy is a reality none of us want to deal with.

The Angle’s snowmobile club, the Edge Riders, plan to compile and submit trail reports to the papers and radio stations this year, an overdue first. I’ll likely be doing the writing so I hereby commit to staying on topic. Or maybe I’ll include just a little on wildlife sightings or pretty vistas or … ok, ok, just the facts, ma’am.

We Edge Riders and Angleites mourn the passing of our “Grandma” Bonnie Vickaryous. She died here at her beloved Angle on Friday, December 11. It was sudden and so very sad.  She left behind a big family and one of the hardest working men at The Angle. Known throughout the land as a restauranteur and for her amazing cooking, Bonnie’s now going to have to watch from above as Dave eats a lot more plain hamburgers with raw onions at Jerry’s.  Treat him to another round of his usual cranberry juice and give him a tight shoulder squeeze when you see him next.

Bonnie was a pillar of support for the snowmobile club and the community at large. And as a woman who had once traveled the emotional road to hell and back, as most of us ladyfolk have or will do at some point in our lifetimes, she was strength personified. I’ve lived here only four years and can’t count the number of hugs she gifted me in that short time.

I’ve been watching the logging that Manitoba Hydro has been doing along our power line route. It runs all the way from the border cut to the fields north of Sprague. Thousands upon thousands of great white pines, Douglas fir, birch, popple are brought to the ground, laid out in grandiose piles and then run straight into a monstrous wood chipper. Seeing their mighty boughs lying in silent repose fills me with sadness time and again as I drive past. I notice the doomed trees that will be cut by the time I make my return trip and unwittingly impose my suffering-for-their-sake upon them.

But the trees don’t suffer. They don’t grieve the loss of others or their inevitable death. Neither do the countless small animal, bird and insect folk that undoubtedly went through the wood chipper as well. Nature knows no death. Energy can’t be destroyed. It can only change form.  From great waving branches to an unstitched patchwork quilt that blankets the ground beneath the new snow.

Sparks of growth will happen before we can even see the carnage again come spring.

Life is like that.

Loss is so undeniably hard, but loss is also like that. A changing of form. A renewal of faith in Come What May. Acceptance and forgiveness before a deed is even carried out.

A wise woman once told me that the purpose of suffering is to push us through to the other side, to teach us how to teach ourselves to overcome.

One of Bonnie’s many hugs came at the funeral of my own grandfather, Clair Knight, just over a year ago. She offered such tenderness and kind, genuine words. She knew what it was to suffer, and now as she is all-knowing in a different capacity, she gently holds her family and friends through every word, embrace and small worldly kindness that comes their way as they mourn and heal. Even in the tough-love, may they find her smiling upon them with grace as sweet as one of her caramel rolls.

She is one of our great white pines now. Sacred. Beloved. Infinite.

We’ll miss you, Bonnie. And we’ll see you in that great patchwork quilt that warms and comforts All That Is.

Merry Christmas, everyone. Peace and joy be with you.

Falling back in love

Column 16 Published in the December 8th issue of the Warroad Pioneer

It’s not hard to get hooked on this place.

Oh, perhaps when you first start coming here you look around, vacantly, like I did, at all the great nothingness, the remote and simple lifestyle, the ever-present hardships and doing-without, the still-waters-run-deep people who are slower to let you ‘in’ than pine gum runs in winter. Perhaps you decide, like the majority, that the annual or bi-annual visit is enough. Or…perhaps you, at a near subconscious pace, start taking note of the few and far between real-estate signs, the jovial attitudes of the locals enjoying their freedoms, the wildlife, the birdsong, the beauty in a rutted gravel road.

Not too long ago, when a good gal pal and I were working through similar hardships with life and men, we’d walk the trails and the roads wondering how it came to be that we had momentarily fallen out of love with The Angle. We’d lost our eye for the mystery and romance of what we called our own Secret Garden.

Often, it would take only that walk and that bit of talking to my friend, the trees, the listening birds, to clear my head and bring me back to the beauty of it all.

Women, it seems, suffer from the chatterbox mind more than the menfolk do. Diffuse awareness, author and relationship expert Alison Armstrong calls it. In the faraway past, men would focus all physical and mental energy to bring down a four-legged beast to feed family and village. Women, on the other hand, didn’t have the luxury of a one-track mind. Out of necessity, we’ve always been multi-taskers. In the time it takes the hunters to sharpen their tools, we tend the fires that stew the old bones, cure the hides, carry the little ones and ensure the bigger ones don’t wander too close to the stream. We dig for root vegetables, gather nuts and seeds for winter stock, take mental note that the stone cherries will be ripe in a week and store away a long-term reminder to come back a couple weeks earlier next year for the blueberries in the meadow two hills over. All the while, we keep eyes and ears acutely tuned for signs of danger.

Of course, our greatest strength can also be our greatest weakness. In my case, and I’m sure that of many women, diffuse awareness in this day of easy survival is the thorn when we’d like to get out of our minds and relax back into the physical, into the now. Compartmentalizing is difficult, if not impossible. We can’t slow down, enjoy, and receive. And presently, we fall out of love with anything that we perceive as pressure.

Women need to be in love.

Marianne Williamson writes in her beautiful book A Woman’s Worth that it’s a need as real as the need to breathe. A man or partner, a job, a child, a project, a home, a friendship:

We need to be in love with anything that we can throw ourselves into and make it more beautiful for having loved it.

That is exactly how I feel about The Angle. It’s why I work so hard on a few small projects that have big potential for such a small community. It’s why I’ve torn open my soul to write truthfully about the ugliness of addiction and the scars it’s leaving on this place and these hearty people. I know something good will come of that, even if the re-lived pain is real during the writing and during the subsequent public critique. I’ve been asked to self-censor for the sake of privacy, but what good would that do anyone? I much prefer to let manure become fertilizer so that beauty may grow for all to experience. A writer writes in order to heal, to work towards self-forgiveness, self-love, and if there’s anything of worth for others along the way, that is the gift we offer.

After losing myself and all of life’s grace and beauty in a short stint of domestic despair, the worst of which will never be written about publicly, I’m falling back in love with The Angle. I’m falling back in love with myself. With the reasons I came here and chose to stay. With motherhood. With friendships and family relationships long neglected. I’m falling back in love with life.

And it won’t be long now, after that long, roaring belly-laugh that is building, building, that I realize life and all of its compartments never fell out of love with me in the first place.

Drowning in Hell

Column 15 Published in the November 24, 2015 Warroad Pioneer

 

There are many ways for a person to drown. Struggling for breath, for life can appear calm and quiet to the unknowing observer. Living on a lake and raising a toddler requires knowledge that no parent hopes they’ll need. Living beside alcoholism necessitates another kind of knowing.

I’m watching someone drown.

They aren’t waving their hands in the air for help. They aren’t sputtering breathlessly for a lifeline. The vocal chords of someone drowning automatically constrict to prevent more water from entering the lungs. The stomach fills up with water and the extra weight then makes them sink. It’s painful and terrifying, according to the literature.

In the case of alcoholism, perhaps the booze numbs that pain and terror enough to allow them to project some semblance of normalcy. Surely they know their predicament, but the water feels warm, the danger feels far away.

I have gotten close enough to see that the danger is real. I have jumped in to try to save them. I have thrown ropes from the shore. I have tried tantalizing them to stand up in the shallows and walk towards what they desire. I have tried love. I have tried anger. I have tried ultimatums.

When none of it worked, when all of it only served to drag me into the water as well – being already a little susceptible to the lies of booze – I had to walk away. It’s been a slow and agonizing walk, and I keep turning back to see if something else might possibly help.

Hard lessons learned, as I wrote about last time, torturous as they may be, still serve a purpose.

It’s gut-wrenching to watch someone you love slowly go down. And I fully admit I’m not strong enough to watch anymore. I have to shield my eyes and those of my child. But I’ve also recently written about letting things lie, and in fact, I have learned that lesson. I can’t do it any longer.

So, getting to my point, I want to talk about enablers and the enabling lifestyle that is The Angle’s. Anyone who was upset by my previous columns, anyone who thought I got too personal, here is your Stop Reading warning.

I’m watching someone drown. And so are you.

I’m not strong enough to pull them to shore on my own. I’ve failed. I’ve been the worst kind of enabler.

An enabler is someone who, by their actions, allows an addict to continue their self-destructive behavior, according to Darlene Albury, LMSW. Enablers avoid conflict by protecting addicts from their problems, not holding them accountable for their wrong-doings, and assisting them with normal life responsibilities that would otherwise fall by the wayside.

The Angle is unique in that we are a strong little community of freedom fighters. We toil and work, celebrate and love, grieve and heal side by side. We get into jams. We break. We borrow. We lend. We are family and neighbors.

We put up with the hardships of living at The Angle because we love what we get in return. Namely, freedom.

But anywhere else, the addicts we all know and love would have had the opportunity to reach bottom by now. They would have lost everything. They would be pulling themselves up by their worn bootstraps because they have no other choice.

They would change or they would die.

But here, we gently push them out of the ditch, back on the rutted gravel and on their way to the next drink with only so much as a shake of our head and maybe a scornful look. We make excuses that this is just how it is at The Angle, and aren’t we lucky that we don’t live somewhere else where flashing lights can appear behind our swerving vehicle or our speeding boat.

If my words serve to bring the law down on us more harshly, so be it. I’ll live with the disdain of my neighbors if it helps someone, anyone get help in grappling with the demon that has them by the throat.

Enabling an addict is dangerous and damaging because unless an addict is fully experiencing the harsh life consequences of their choices, they have no incentive to change. They could and likely will continue to spiral into more deadly territory with every unwise decision.

Rumor has it that there is a makeshift jail cell in an abandoned house along the main drive here at The Angle. In my four short years here, I know of a half-dozen times it should have been legitimately used and wasn’t. And that’s just me. Do terrible things have to happen at The Angle for us to hold anyone accountable?

This rant is not directed at law enforcement. It’s meant for those of us who have turned a blind-eye for too long. Our inaction will lead to the law getting involved eventually, and that’s obviously not what anyone wants.

For the most part, we live a quiet, peaceful life here. But it’s time to make waves.

It’s time to loudly and forcefully help those who can’t help themselves. Do it with gritted teeth. Use curse words if you need to. Call. Show up. Get in their face. Coddling hasn’t worked. Ignoring it hasn’t helped. Love them enough to finally say, “Enough.”

Enabling is a lose-lose situation; I know that first-hand.

Enablers are not the bad guys. Worst case, our lives are in shambles because we’ve directed all energy to a lost-cause for years. Enablers need the love and support of a community just as much as the addicts.

If you think this isn’t about you, you’re wrong. If you think you don’t know someone in this situation, you’re wrong. All addictions are equal. People attach a more shameful stigma to certain addictions, but they are indeed all the same, coming from a place of disconnect with Source, Love, God, whatever you want to call it. Enablers, addicts, bystanders, we are also all the same.

That said, a quote fell into my lap recently, as they often do when I am praying, pleading, weeping for guidance. At the risk of offending a few more people, I’ll close with interpreted words from Dante’s Inferno, used frequently once upon a time by John F. Kennedy,

“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a time of moral crisis, remain neutral”.

Drowning in hell is no way to live. Something must be done.

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Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know

Column 14 Published in the November 10 Warroad Pioneer

 

For as much as I’ve written to the contrary, the Angle can’t really be considered all that extreme anymore. We get mail three times a week. FedEx and UPS can deliver a dusty Amazon Fresh package directly to our doorsteps or docks. Electricity has been around since 1974, though it’s spendy and tends to go out when we’re hatching eggs in the incubator, have just sat down to a long-anticipated movie night or are in the middle of perfecting our lemon custard soufflé. (Just kidding. Nobody at The Angle bakes soufflés.)

Marine Band radio was replaced when regular phone service came in 1991, and today we have sketchy DSL internet and one decently reliable cell carrier. Notably, the gossip grapevine is only a tad slower now that we don’t have the loud crackle of a neighbor’s conversation in our living rooms.

Of course, I did not live here in those times, but I do remember visiting my grandparents and marveling at the novelty of it all. It felt special, quaint, exciting.

Moving here was not any huge sacrifice, nor was it a lofty transcendental quest. It simply felt right, or at least I wanted it something fierce. Wanting, as I have learned the hard way, does not always lead to wise decisions, however. And though I do subscribe to No Mistakes, or phrased positively Everything Works Out Perfectly, in hindsight I can see that there were easier, more sensible routes to my desire.

I am of the belief system that we’re here in this life to learn a select few lessons that we chose before we arrived, the exact ones necessary to move us along both the collective and our individual evolutionary path to the divine.

“Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know,” spiritual teacher, author, ordained nun and mother Pema Chodron said.

Not surprising to anyone who knows me, I am a slow and stubborn study in a lot ways.  There are life lessons I have had to repeat again and again and again, especially on matters of the heart. My in-process lessons in The Angle’s soft extremes seem so embarrassingly painful, and yet at the same time, I’m exhausted from taking them so damn seriously.

I’m craving a full-bellied laugh that cleans out my tear ducts in a wellspring from the depths of my tired soul.

Laughter is a release, after all, and letting go is so critically important. The anonymous saying, often wrongfully attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, has always spoken to my heart:  “In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”

The Angle seems a rough life, but there is an underlying gentleness that pulls and kneads at our awakening souls. By default of our very whereabouts–the forested land, the mighty lake, the gravel roads bumpier than they’ve been in their 40-year history, according to one old-timer a week ago—by those threads, we have a cautious connection to the raucous cacophony of the outside world.

We can shut if off at will. And we can escape back into it at the touch of a button.

From my window, I watch a small woodpecker working vigilantly despite the rain and the wind. The deer have arrived for their daily meal of the garden’s leavings. The migratory birds are all gone now and traffic at the feeders is slow.

My little one and I cleaned out her sandbox and put all the outside toys away for the winter. There was a sentimental finality to that somehow. Letting things lie until the spring thaw – there’s another hard-learned lesson for many of us.

Letting go and letting things lie are far from the same, of course. One will beget that soulful laughter a long time hence, and the other, regret.

The Angle, as she does, has let go of another beloved. Hard-working resort owner and lovingly-stubborn resident Norm Undahl passed away on October 30. I wrote of his wife, Joan, only a few columns back and want to pass on heartfelt sympathies to such a strong lady. Norm and Joan were an anchor couple on Oak Island and I’m sure residents would agree, it just won’t be the same.

Death is a final teacher of sorts. If I haven’t wrapped up my lesson-book by then, I’m sure it’ll take out its red pen and show me the correct answers.

Leaving to Come Home

Column 13 Published in the October 27 Warroad Pioneer

“It’s morning time, Mama,” my two-year-old says quietly, expectantly. The thick morning accent of half-awake and a sore throat picked up on our travels muffles her baby voice.  I wrap her into my robe and we curl expertly together, watching the sun warm the dark lake and the frost-covered muskeg on our first morning back at The Angle. We’ve been away for a week, and it feels simultaneously as if a lifetime and no time at all has passed.

Leaving The Angle is a big part of loving The Angle. Just like anywhere, I suppose, time away from our day-to-day is vital to remembering why we choose to stay where we are.

It’s a long walk in a different kind of forest, breathing different air.

Despite the new experiences and faces, the glimpse into other walks of life, the tastes of beautiful food not available at The Angle, the shopping – oh to spend an hour walking the isles of a big box store staring at sundries I haven’t seen or imagined in over a year – despite the warmth of seeing far-away family and the chance to meet new friends, new possibilities, it’s always the coming home that has the most impact.

Home becomes something most precious to those of us fortunate to have one, and perhaps even moreso to those who don’t. In Northern Minnesota, we don’t have to look the issue of homelessness square in the face like city-dwellers do or avoid doing. In fact, many of us have callous and unkind get-a-job attitudes about it without considering the soul of the human enduring that journey.

But everything we all long for centers around Home. It is at the foundation of all attachments and it’s the base-level fear when you break down each limiting belief.

We left to peaking fall colors and came home to the grays and rain-turned-snow of the coming cold season. The bird bath and rain barrel are crusted over with ice each morning, and the world is taking on that familiar quiet that ushers in the restful sleep of winter.

Resorts are mostly shuttered and we’re back to minimal traffic, the steady movement of the deer and a quiet and resigned wait for the ice.

Halloween is our next happening here at The Angle, and mothering turns it into more wholesome, memorable fun than ever before. On Friday, October 30th, we’ll join the school kids for their afternoon party, fully costumed and ready for games and sugary treats. That evening, Jerry’s Restaurant and Bar will host the Wilderness Feast, which is a wild-game potluck, and its annual party, themed this year Hairy Scary Halloween at The Angle. I wonder how many yeti punk rockers will show up. Locals, take note: it’s not on Saturday the 31st because that would conflict with trick-or-treating, and hey, we can change things up like that if we want to. It’s The Angle.

Rural trick-or-treating is an exhausting adventure for everyone. We usually have an advanced count of how many kids will show up, and the goodies are grand because there are so few. Mr. Barrett usually has some taxidermied atrocity subtly hidden that scares the adults more than the kids. And the houses with the full-size candy bars are always remembered. The same cars criss-cross The Angle, hitting all of the regular stops, and by the end of the evening costumes are destroyed from or lost in the chaos of getting in and out of a vehicle so often.

There are about 70 households counting the islands, and we’ll knock on at best ten doors. It takes all night.

We’ll fall asleep to a sugar low and wake again to light across our beloved lake, the same waters that still hide the body of 28-year old Keith Ayers. May his family find what little peace they’re able to knowing none of us have forgotten. When we see the beauty and give thanks, we also pray he is taken Home before the ice comes, leaving The Angle one final time.

 

 

 

Our feathers don’t dictate our flock

 

For the last many weeks, I’ve watched the birds gather for their long migrations south. The northern flickers, Canadian geese, black birds, winter wrens and even trumpeter swans know without knowing to gather together in times of transition. It is born into them that isolation is unsafe and unnatural at these critical life junctures.

For the most part, in times of great change humans naturally follow this same flocking instinct as well, but there are those of us who buck that norm for whatever reason. Change often keeps company in our minds with grief or anger or mistrust, which can compound to send us spiraling into loneliness.

The Angle tends to gather all kinds; those seeking connection and those seeking separation. It is a place that almost encourages isolation, escape and a disquieted seeking of solace and respite in nature. I’ve watched the lifecycle of my own false sense of moral righteousness in living close to the land, getting back to the Earth.

But the longer I stay at The Angle, the more certain I become that it is the currents of the Earth in all their great mysteries that are pushing us back into connection with our people.

Greater Minnesota already knows about the three missing boaters who left Sunset Lodge on Oak Island, Lake of the Woods, late on Friday, October 3rd but didn’t make it to their cabin an island away. Their 16 foot Lund was found the following day capsized on the NE corner of Flag Island, about a nautical mile from Sunset Lodge. As of this writing, the body of Justin Haugtvedt, 22, was recovered and the two other men remain missing.

When tragedy happens, communities like The Angle rise up and band together. People spring into action to help however they can. Isolation is set aside and replaced by neighborliness with a sense of urgency that remote and extreme lifestyles like The Angle’s understand well.

But in this particular case, it has been a long and lonely week. Now, in the latter part of the search, there are a few volunteers in the ranks, but for the first many days, help from the locals had been refused by the agencies in charge. Seasoned guides, knowledgeable about the lake and its currents were asked to leave the area. Land owners near where the boat was found and where the men may have made it to shore were not enlisted to help search, despite knowing the land and shoreline and having access to all-terrain vehicles. News bulletins repeated the sentiment that “County Law enforcement is being assisted by several agencies and is not looking for civilian volunteers.”

If something should happen to my daughter or me, let this serve as a call for anyone who wants to help to be invited and welcomed. At the behest of the lost, all agencies involved must deal with the chaos that we civilians bring in exchange for our resources, manpower and depth of knowledge of this remote land and its unforgiving waterways. This is not said out of mistrust for any officials but rather a wholesome knowing that we would fight for life and we would hope anyone who could help would indeed be allowed to do so. South of here, the search for the missing Monticello man was aided by volunteers, and it was indeed a volunteer who found his body and helped bring closure to the family.

This is, of course, one Angleite’s perspective after speaking to a variety of folk around the area, and it seems like an achingly lonely conclusion to come to. I hope others have had a different experience. Gratitude is definitely owed to the hard-working officials who have been involved in the search to date, but the Angle works best when our people work together and being refused the chance to help feels so opposite of all that we stand for.

There is another way. Please consider donating at http://www.gofundme.com/lotwboys to help the families with all expenses incurred during this time of waiting. Our community heart goes out to the friends and families of these young men, Justin, Cody and Keith, as well as heartbroken Baudette, MN.

Despite the many who live here in solitude and quiet unspoken loneliness, there is an age-old Angle recipe for Being. Despite the propensity toward addiction, which I’ve written about in previous columns, and other domestic and emotional malaise that are a byproduct of loneliness, that recipe for Being centers on connection. Despite our odd collection of all ways and walks of life, this Angle community could and would come together with such compassion and force that it would surely make a difference in whatever event served to unite it.

We are like the birds, some of us busy wrens, some of us stoic flickers, some of us trumpeter swans. But unlike the birds, our feathers don’t dictate our flocks.

We may be separate in our minds, but there is a greater knowing here that we are indeed all One. Mother Earth wants only that her children should come back together, and she will make it so, with our cooperation or without. It is on us to heed the migration call and rise up through grief and loneliness, in grace and goodwill.

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A U.S. Border Patrol Air Unit conducts an air search at the Northwest Angle for the three missing Baudette men. (Both photos courtesy of Joe Laurin.)