In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Ode to a Playground.”

October marks a year since my brother, sister, and I sold the southern Minnesota farm where we grew up, where our parents lived their dream, and rest forever beneath woodland phlox in the woods. Until I went to college, ‘The River Farm’ was my playground, a magical place that evolved as I did. I have let go of the physical space but not the memories of my inner childhood.

I first saw this playground on April 10, 1947, the day we arrived at our farm as migrants from New Brunswick, New Jersey. I was three years old and remember the day in shades of gray. The ashen hue of our muddy 1940 Plymouth, the steely tint of the low clouds, the pools of pewter colored snowmelt, and the charcoal smudges of thawing soil.

The sun came out, April turned into May, and a curious three-almost-four-year-old made everything a toy, a fun house. For companions, I had the geese that hissed when I approached the goslings. Mom taught me how to a bottle to feed a lamb. I imitated Dad and gassed my trike, an imaginary tractor, at the tank.

When I was a little older, and my cousins came visiting from town, we played hide-and-seek in the barn, hiding among the bales of hay. At night, we played kick-the-can, lurking until the last minute in the shadows from the yard light, and then kicking the can by the well.

The pasture and its winding creek became my Wild West where my pals and I played cowboys. A little later, as I approached middle school, I often sat there and gazed in wonder at at the cumulous clouds, majestic cauliflowers of air and vapor, delicately tinted in shades of pearl, coral, and blue-gray, sailing like Spanish galleons. They looked so solid, like mountains yet, in the eye of my imagination, I saw narrow canyons and deep caves. Watching clouds feeds the imagination.

Sometimes, the farm wasn’t a playground. As I grew up, I inherited chores suitable to my age. For years, I fed the chickens, then collected, and cleaned the eggs. I hated it. Chicken care was a woman’s job; real men kept livestock. By the age of 12, I spent hours on a Ford tractor tilling the soil for planting, or spreading manure, or plowing. An active imagination is necessary for enduring the monotony and I spent it with dreams about learning to fly.

Most of our fields lay north of the winding, prairie river dividing our farm. South of the river was 120 acres of hardwood forest, mostly walnut, basswood, and burr oak. After the age of 12, the woods became my playground in all seasons.

In summer, I hiked a half-mile to swim in the river’s deeper holes under cut banks. In September, I hunted squirrels among the burr oaks on the ridge. In October, I hunted ducks along the river, and pheasants in the weed patches and cornfields. When I got older, Dad and I spent winter days there thinning the oaks, and hickories, and pruning walnuts to produce good lumber – some day.

Prairie blizzards altered the playground with huge drifts in the windbreak where I dug snow caves and built forts. My pals and I had fierce snowball fights, and went sledding down a hill where I made a ramp so our sleds would ‘fly’ for a couple feet.

Our draughty farmhouse (ca. 1878) sheltered us well, and on winter Sunday afternoons, my parents listened to classical music on CBS radio while my sister and I played Monopoly or read books. We raised crops for exactly 50 years, and most year, we celebrated Thanksgiving dinners with cousins and friends. From the big table, we looked out across the corn stubble and plowing dusted with snow, corncribs filled with the harvest, satisfied and secure at passing another crop year.

The playground changed when Dad retired the fields and enrolled them in a conservation plan. The former fields of corn, soybeans, oats and alfalfa became switchgrass, timothy, and oak plantations. He loved his farm, conservation was the right thing to do, but I lost the visceral connection I felt as a child.

What is the price you put on memories of the places that formed you? Is there a value I can put on the pasture, the windbreak, the pattern of corn, soybean, oat, and alfalfa fields? Their colors changed throughout the year as they matured. What can replace the sound of my mother working in the kitchen, preparing a Thanksgiving meal while chatting with relatives, perhaps dropping in a French phrase? How can I replace the memory of hearing Dad, whistling show-tunes in the evening air as he drove the tractor, preparing a field for spring planting?

I have the memories and photos, but I don’t have the farm. Without the cycle of cropping, plowing, and planting, it isn’t the farm I knew, the farm that imprinted itself on me. Nor is it the same farm without Mom and Dad. They lived their dream to the end. That dream is done. Neither I nor my siblings will live there so we sold it to another family to live out their dream.

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Today turned out to be all the weather geek said it would be – and more. The rime of frost on the edge of the garage roof – white on brown – lends a nice touch to daybreak. Then – gone – a filmy coil of rising vapor – like a morning prayer.

Spring warmth spreads sweetly – like puppy love – on a sweeping south wind. I sit in the sun, enjoying a bottle of porter and the last of the cashews. In my wooded Minnesota subdivision, where the smallest lots measure a quarter acre, our houses sit far apart among the oaks, elms, and honeysuckles. No sidewalks connect us – each house is an island – and we are an archipelago of suburbanites on a cul de sac. Friendly – we know each other – but private.

Some neighbors migrate south for the winter and the rest of us simply ‘hibernate,’ denning up in our houses, going and coming through the garage. Now and then, we meet each other after a humongous snowfall when we join to push a stuck car off the street or happen to shovel our driveways at the same time. We are winter introverts and this is enough neighborliness in the cold.

The neighbor across the road is loading firewood into the bed of his pick-up. I walk down the drive, get the mail from the box, and stop to talk. He tells me about his shoulder replacements. We are both over 65 and commiserate on our respective aches and pains. Neither of us is ‘what we were cracked up to be’ even a few years ago.

Then I return to the lawn chair and sit in the soft lap of late afternoon with a book in my lap. I’m not reading but sitting as content as a sunning turtle, looking at a piece of the world that’s temporarily mine.

The season’s first flies buzz about in the sun, the wind soughs through the top of a neighbor’s cottonwoods, and the rattle last year’s leaves on my oaks. Green shoots poke through the thatch of lawn, now four shades greener than yesterday, thanks to a half-inch of rain. Pubescent leaf buds pop along the twigs on the chokeberry bush, ready to unfold like young adults in a day or two with a show of green. But that flash belongs to the morrow and is not yet a reality.

A mole, just out of hibernation, tunnels along the edge of the concrete walk, and leaves a long, low mound like a glacial esker. I don’t resent his presence today but I will in a couple weeks when I mow the lawn. I see no point in starting resentments early.

A gray tree frog utters a sharp, almost percussive, creak from a hidden place in the lawn. I can’t see him but I know his general location. Down the street, in the marsh by the blind curve, northern leopard frogs croak with Falstaffian glee – like men packed into a sports bars on game day. They croak the same phrases over and over – hoping to ‘score’ a mate.

Sitting quietly in the lawn is a respite from a writers’ conference. I’m humbled and a little intimidated after three days in the company of novelists and memoirists, poets and essayists far more eloquent than I am. Writing is a generous act, one of them said in a presentation. I believe it’s true. Does it take talent to be generous?

Six weeks from now – in a future not yet mine – I will reunite with the Macalester College class of 1965. No! This can’t be the 50th reunion already! It is true but I want to stay in denial. I feel an urge to slim down and tone up. Why bother? We all know we are half-a-century older. Slimming and toning can’t change anything, much less reverse the years. Besides, I’m wiser now than before. I guess that is something of being more than ‘I was cracked up to be’ back then.

This class is an unusually earnest cohort. We entered college as John Kennedy began his presidency. JFK’s idealism formed us while his assassination matured us. Most of us are still pushing new frontiers. When reunion day comes, we will sit at tables to discuss weighty questions about whether ‘we had it all,’ whatever it was. Said another way, we will consider whether life is ‘all it was cracked up to be.’ We will talk urgently about the things we still need to accomplish until prostrated by seriousness.

I remember graduation day, the high-minded the commencement speaker, his exhortation to pursue our dreams, and a rush to change the world. Along my way, did I pause often enough to appreciate the grass in its growing or listen to the tree frogs in courtship? Did I stop to let the moment take me by the hand and reveal itself to me?

The future offers no guarantees but no one told me. Experience taught me the future doesn’t belong to me in advance of its arrival. The future is a dream, a possibility and – sometimes – a nightmare because the future has no reality. For a long time, I lived for the future and completely missed the present. I know better now. Only the present moment is real. It is all I have. The past is lost to memory and can’t be changed. The future is a possibility beyond my control. Moment by moment, I live into the future – moving as blindly as the mole tunneling my lawn – feeling my way forward, seeking the right path. The present moment is ‘all it’s cracked up to be.’

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Pens and Pencils.”

Nothing fills me with greater joy and anticipation that finding a letter in my mailbox, the kind of letter addressed by hand in ink, bearing the return address of someone I know. These days I see fewer and fewer of such missives and I wonder what will happen to the art of writing with intimacy. What will happen to the tete-a-tete created solely for the eyes and heart of another person?

My daughters are now grown, one lives in California, the other in New York, and they communicate mainly by text, e-mail, and cell phone. Yet no message from them gives me as much pleasure as a birthday or Father’s Day card with a handwritten note, often silly, telling me how much they love me, and how happy they are I am a part of their lives. Although I wouldn’t doubt their love if they typed the messages, yet the expression would lack the intimacy, the personal touch of a hand holding a pen, a hand on an arm that is moving carefully to express what is beating in the heart.

As our family’s historian, I work my craft by reading other people’s mail. The oldest letter in our family collection dates from 1847. All are written in ink of various shades, some dark, some faded, laid on paper by different hands. Some of the family wrote with harsh, forward-leaning slants; others wrote with short rounded loops, and still others wrote stems on their letters that rose high and dove low. I have spent many evenings with these letters until I know each writer just by looking at their cursive.

Reading my parents’ letters written in New Jersey just before World War II, I know them anew from their penmanship, the length of the letters, and how quickly they answered them. Mail traveled faster in those days with twice-daily city deliveries. As young adults in love, they wrote constantly, feeling anguished when a letter wasn’t answered within a day.

My mother wrote personal, idiosyncratic letters that was repartee on paper. There isn’t much reportage of the ‘news’ as much as it was a conversation. Sometimes she laced her billets-doux with French phrases. A week after my mother and father met for the first time, she wrote a friendly note describing her ‘new cream gray 1940 Plymouth sedan’ and urged him to ‘come up soon and see it, if not me. I think we could have fun. Forget about the fact that I’m two years older than you are,’ she continued, ‘and you don’t bore me, so there!’ A year later, shortly before their engagement, she wrote what became a prophetic letter to my father while visiting in Minnesota: ‘Being out here is certainly wonderful and it’s really pretty in June. I’ve been thinking I’d like to move out here someday. Maybe I’ll buy a farm and adopt a couple of kids and just move in.’ Seven years later, we moved to a Minnesota farm.

Dad’s family, on the other hand, wrote letters reporting family ‘news’ the inverted paragraph style that read like the copy my grandfather edited as a newsman. These ‘family letters’, typed in quadruplicate with carbon paper, contain only ‘the news fit to print’ for a dispersed family. Even when grandfather wrote a personal letter, he typed it (his handwriting was illegible), much drained of any emotional content.

Among the oldest letters in our family are those written by Samuel Searl, my great-great-great grandfather, an itinerant Methodist minister and a farmer. Largely self-educated, he wrote well-turned phrases in a firm, flowing hand in dark blue ink. In his words I sometimes think I hear him in the pulpit; at other times I’m deeply moved by the intimacy of his letters to Herman, my great-grandfather, who was then a rebellious youth. He began by saying he wanted to devote ‘a few hours of leisure to another chat with you’, and asked Herman ‘what do you mean to do or mean to be, a man or a mouse, a knave or a fool, what heights does your imagination climb to?’ Writing to Herman’s mother, he commented on the boy’s photo, remarking – prophetically as it turned out – that his ‘countenance carries the mark of bold and daring speculations and enterprises that build high castles without climbing the hill of science’.

On my desk I keep a small, note written by my father during the last months of his life. His once strong, and distinctive cursive had shrunk to feebler characters bearing only a faint resemblance to the hand I have known for decades. He closed his short note with: ‘Like the color of this paper, I’m beginning to fade, too.’ His approaching death wasn’t news to any of us. We had talked about his prognosis many times and knew what he wanted. We all knew his death was a matter of a month or two. But the hand-written note, the scratchy lines written in an unsteady hand, spoke volumes and revealed my father’s spirits in ways that words alone couldn’t if written on a keyboard that would have all but wiped away his personality in his last month.

E-mail is a blessing, my Twitter account is interesting, I use Facebook to post pictures, but I feel no genuine emotions emanating from an emoji or thumbs up, or text shortcuts like LOL or OMG. None of these convey the heart of the person who sent them. They are too impersonal and the emotions behind them must be inferred. My point is: When we move away from the pen as the means of personal communication, we place an impersonal veil between us and the person we are reaching out to.

Letters are particularly human creations, and personal, hand-written letters are infused with a tender human quality. It is the tenderness of the heart flowing through the body to the arm, the hand, and finally to the pen as it moves across the paper. Putting pen to paper is to put our hearts on display. Each stroke of the pen reveals the writer; I reveal my personality, state of mind, and the sentiments in my heart that go beyond words. I know my correspondents by the kind of pen, the size of the nib or ballpoint, the type of paper, its color, and texture, and the style of their cursive. Pen and paper and ink are choices the writer makes, and they add detail and texture to how we know each other through letters. These physical characteristics of our correspondence are manifestations of ourselves. They are the human touch.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “New.”

Before going to Mexico in October, I started a blog of my experiences rather than keep a journal. Instead of writing privately for myself, I posted my experiences and reflections publicly as if I were a ‘foreign correspondent’ to my readers. Every author loves to be read, and writing for others invites their reactions. Writers love readers’ comments just as actors and musicians live for the applause. The responses keep me going.

My blog – ‘Adventures in Midlife Spanish’ – is aimed at adults who dream about learning Spanish but believe it’s too late to start; that they’re too old to learn. I show them they can learn and offer practical suggestions to accelerate or encourage their learning. Language and culture are inseparable, and my posts reflect on aspects of Mexican culture from the standpoint of a norteamericano with a foot planted in the cultures on either side of the Río Grande.

While in Mexico, I wove together themes from the history, customs, and meaning of El Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead, the celebration of Independence Day and its links to the on-going political protests, the role of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexican identity and a note of praise for the ubiquitous but essential tortilla. From Mexico it is easier to better understand my native culture when I see it from a new perspective. From there I am free to consider beliefs I haven’t questioned before.

After returning from Mexico, I started a second, concurrent blog called ‘Loose Leave Binder – Reflections on Thoughts, Words, and Deeds.’ The title reflects its looser, more eclectic themes. This is where I post pieces not related to learning Spanish or Mexican culture. It is a place where I can try out ideas and see what others think of them.

Now retired, I’ve returned to writing the way I’ve always wanted to write: To write for the pleasure of individual readers rather than to advance the causes of institutional employers. After thirty-five years of writing impersonal ‘white papers’ and ‘issue briefs’ for various corporate and government organizations, I’m free to write personally without an impersonal mask of dispassionate omniscience. Blogging invites a more immediate, spontaneous style of thinking and writing; it’s a style I had to re-learn in the place of habitual objectivity and self-censorship.

Words are like a mob of extroverts; once I put them down on the paper or screen, they immediately invite other words to associate with them. Then this gang of associated words take me to places I hadn’t thought of going to. That’s the thrill of writing, I don’t know what I’ll produce until I’m done. Blogs seem to write themselves and I’m simply a channel.

Blogging is my discipline. With every post, there are decisions to make that will shape my work. How often to post? What subjects to cover? Should I create a connected series or follow my whims? What is my ‘tone’ of voice – didactic, conversational, or meditative? These and other questions shape my writing, provide continuity, and set a standard against which I measure my work.

The joy of blogging is like going to a high school reunion; it’s a party where I encounter the English language again as I would a boyhood pal, we are new to each other, and yet, we are familiar with much to say.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly writing challenge: “Ice, Water, Steam.”

Ice, water, and steam. Regardless of form, it remains H2O. That’s the nature of the universe: dynamic, changeable, and yet certain properties endure regardless of form or function. Matter forms and reforms, continually shaping and reshaping itself. Atoms and molecules flow into and out of each other. Creatures live linear lives yet within the cycle of seasons and phases, as in birth, life, and death. Nature abhors a vacuum and with it, stasis.

You and I shouldn’t be surprised to discover that we are at least chameleons if not shape-shifters; creatures who readily transform ourselves to meet new circumstances by adapting, mimicking, or conforming to others. It’s an inherent part of our emotional DNA; it’s how we survive as individuals and societies. We do this naturally, unconsciously, and every minute of the day as circumstances require. And yet, like water evaporating, condensing, precipitating, flowing, or freezing, we never lose our essential character. What the others see as ‘you’, are narrow facets of the greater being deep within you.

Ice: In its solid state, water can be locked in place for a long time. I started life with the illusion that I would be the person I willed myself to be; and it worked for a while. After a successful career as a public affairs professional, historian, author, and conservationist, I had a ‘reputation’ as a man of integrity; thoughtful and analytical but guarded and hard to know. I was who I thought I should be and worked hard to become. That’s the downside of success; being afraid to step outside our customary boundaries, fearful of losing our ‘identity’. Nothing is further from the truth. Only later did I learn that great changes and transformations are always possible. The processes are those of expansion and addition, not contraction and reduction.

Water: In its liquid state, water will take on the shape of whatever contains it. All life depends on this fluid state. As a Spanish language student in Mexico, I left behind the identity signified by my ‘reputation’ because it was irrelevant to my studies.  Yet, I didn’t lose my identity. Liberated from the obligation of living up to the container of my ‘reputation’, I adapted, mimicked, and conformed to the people among whom I lived. Very quickly, I noticed a new aspect of my personality emerging, something long-dormant that germinated only after I entered the right environment. My guarded introversion became a more open extroversion, opinions trumped objectivity, and emotions overcame analysis. As my wife later observed: ‘You’re a different person in Mexico.’

Steam: In its gaseous state, water is a cloud, an evanescence, a possibility that can condense as dew, precipitate as rain, or freeze as snow. The future is a steam of unknown possibilities. When my father died last January, I became the elder in our extended family; the oldest of my siblings and first cousins. I’m the keeper of the family’s past, the one who knows its history. To be the eldest has less to do with my actual years than my place in the family. Death isn’t a stranger to me, but I feel more deeply now the shortness of time ahead. Ignoring my mortality was easier when Dad was living. No longer can I ignore the fact I might be next. I retired, my daughters have married and moved into adulthood, my granddaughter was born a few months before my father died. Few months, our family comprised four generations spanning 93 years; the full cycle of life and its possibilities.

Water changes form with the cycle of the seasons: Precipitating, flowing, evaporating, and freezing. My being changes with my location and company: Guarded professional, open traveler, family elder. I am these things and more. There is joy in the constant dissolution and reconstitution of my life, it is ever different and yet always the same. Nature abhors vacuums and stasis; that’s why we are shape-shifters.

Warmth, not heat, but warmth seems to define the human condition.  I welcome warmth with anticipation for what the season brings and watch it depart with gratitude for its many gifts.

It’s the first spring-like day in early April, I quiver with the anticipation of lasting warmth. It feels like new love.  Standing outside, under a clear sky, I turn my face to the bright sun.  The air is calm and my jacket lies unneeded on the grass.  I fill my lungs with the scent of the waking earth; I watch robins hop across the lawn, piping their cheery song.  In my heart,  I know there’s more warmth where this came from.  And even if a few flurries and drizzles follow next week, I know I hold a ticket to winter’s last act.  Real warmth is on its way.

All too soon it’s the end of October, and possibly it’s the last summer-like day of the year. Now the midday sun rolls closer to the horizon, shadows lie longer across the yard, and there’s frost in the morning. I shiver a little and take comfort in the jacket zipped to my neck. Here in the North, on the cusp of gray, stormy November, I dwell on the bumper crop of heirloom tomatoes, the happy sound of children running through the sprinkler, and the suntan I got without a bad burn. It might snow tomorrow, but I have a larder full of memories to carry me through the winter.

Warmth. Yes! But it’s the memories of warmth that sustain me in the coldest of seasons.

It is rare that I enter anyone’s  house or office that I don’t immediately glance at the bookcase or the magazines on end tables. It’s a habit in homes and offices where I don’t know the people. Title by title, I try to extract a clue as to their interests, their tastes and, possibly, their character. It’s more than idle curiosity; it’s part of a ‘strategy’ for making a connection, establishing a rapport, and knowing what topics to avoid. I

I lived with a Mexican family when I studied Spanish. The first time I entered their home, it took only a minute or two to see the titles in their bookcases covered a wide range of art, culture, and history. I knew immediately we would have a lot in common. In time, our shared interests grew a deep and lasting friendship.

The contents of a bookcase are something unique if not personal, and may be as good as a curriculum vitae. Its quirky collections are as individual as a signature, and a quick study of titles may reveal its owner’s ideas, interests, and passions – a map of the soul. Now and then I come upon a bookcase stocked with new, leather bound books, for ‘show.’ I know they’re meant to impress me but pristine-looking books aren’t impressive, regardless of the authors. Worn covers and dog-eared pages, books leaning on each other, are the spoor of a serious reader.

A large, ceramic disc of the sun hangs over my desk; a simple work by a Mexican artisan, something we brought back from Oaxaca years ago. There’s nothing out of the ordinary about it, just as there is nothing peculiar about other common objects in my study. But if you look closely, these things might tell you a lot about me.

The disc hangs on the wall of my den at a height where we look at each other – eye-to-eye – while I’m writing. Its taffy-colored face has a blue nose and lips, but the right side of the face is brown and shaped like a crescent moon with one eye. Uniting of the sun and the moon is a common motif in Mexican art. To it, I’ve tucked small American and Mexican flags, their staffs crossed behind a gap between one of the eleven triangular ‘rays’ surrounding the face.

The two flags are important to me. I’ve grown to love Mexico as I love the United States, but I love them for different reasons. Each culture has its great virtues and its tragic flaws; and at some level these virtues and flaws are complementary antidotes for what ails each country – if only their peoples can see it.

At some point, years ago, the disc broke, the break running from beneath the eye of the ‘sun’, then just under its nose and across the lower cheek of the ‘moon’. I don’t remember when or how the break occurred. The cause of the fracture, like the spark of a lovers’ quarrel, is lost to memory. But the line where it broke is as obvious as the Río Grande. It’s that way with many of life’s breaks and difficulties; the cause isn’t always remembered but the scar is visible.

Instead of throwing away disc, I restored a piece of the universe; gluing together the sun and the moon, the masculine and feminine faces of the cosmos. Now, like a couple after counseling, the breech is healed and the union is stronger than before. The still-married sun and moon, bedecked with Mexican and American flags, smile as I work beneath their gaze.

Behind me stands a tall, white bookcase from Ikea. The lower three shelves are filled with books, the upper two hold CDs and DVDs. Atop it are small wooden figures, fanciful animals, two elephants, a rhino, and a giraffe, playing musical instruments; produces of a Mexican artisan. The disc, the wooden animals, the bookcase, and its contents reflect if not describe me in ways I hadn’t considered.

The rows of books are segregated. On the very bottom are the larger, heavier books: a historical atlas of WWII, and a volume that accompanied Ken Burns’ film, The War, an encyclopedia of American history, How Fiction Works, Child’s History of Waseca County, and others, including a Rand-McNally road atlas. On the shelves above are paperback books on Mexico, anthologies of short stories written by Latin American authors, a study of Mexico’s presidents, bi-lingual Spanish/English stories, novels, and histories of Latin America.

The CDs are arranged somewhat by genre: Folk, country-western, Latin, Irish, jazz, classical. Within each genre are one or more favorite songs from certain times of my life. To say that only one song is my favorite is difficult if not impossible. That’s the rub. Each song occupies one of the many corners and phases of my life. To pick one song over another as a favorite is to diminish the other parts of my life in favor of another. But life is an indivisible whole; but certain songs encompass a defining moment, an era, an evening, a love, or a phase of my life. They’re part of my personal archeological record.

Listening to the Fleetwoods sing I’m Mr. Blue takes me back to high school dances and an innocent time with no clouds on the horizon. If I play a Duke Ellington recording of It Don’t Mean a Thing, I can see my parents dancing a little in the living room to the music of their generation. Strains of James Taylor singing Sweet Baby James carries me back to grad school in the ‘seventies and finishing my dissertation knowing I won’t be a history professor. As a corporate professional in the ‘eighties and ‘nineties, I escape that mode by listening wishfully to country-western music of Willie, Waylon, and the outlaws. On road trips with my daughters, they choose the music and I pick up the expenses. Now, when I head west, either alone or with one of my self-styled ‘roadies,’ I leave before daybreak to the strains of Willie Nelson singing On the Road Again. I play this when they aren’t with me, letting the melodies conjure up memories and something of their bright spirits.

More than music, it is language – books – that hold a special meaning. On my shelves are John Gerach’s Sex, Death and Fly-fishing, my father’s Minnesota Legislative Manual, Wallace Stegner’s Sound of Mountain Water, The Book of Common Prayer, autographed first editions Singing Wilderness by Sigurd Olson, Theodore Roosevelt’s Hunting Trips of a Ranchman, We by Charles Lindberg, and Canoeing With the Cree by Eric Severaid. There are many other books on writing, collections of stories and novels. It’s a collection of interests, a hodge-podge. But a bookcase with its contents is the invisible but emotional catalogue of our lives.

Whether music and language, certain songs and words are embedded in the eidetic memories at the center of our being. They are there, always. Songs and words sometimes define a present moment; and sometimes they take us back to a particular moment. And for me, there are times when I don’t know whether I am going forward or backward in my soul. Nor do I care, I enjoying the ride.

pt: “Final Trio.”