Preface is Prologue

As one of the very first “baby boomers”I  grew up in the North Dakotah of the nineteen fifties. I lived in Alice, a little prairie town, that, like a lot of prairie towns, is mostly gone anymore. It was a time before God got put into the Pledge of Allegiance,  a time when portraits of Washington and Lincoln, and a copy of  the Ten Commandments in gothic script had an honored presence on the walls at school. World War II was still a part of the short term memory then.  It’s a  family legend that my Great Aunt Clara was supposed to have said “Dat Hitler could’a come to Minneapolis, but by God he’s damn lucky he doesn’t try to come into Nort Dikotah”

Kids today would more than likely say our lives were boring. Our bicycles only had one speed, baseball bats were made of wood, and you had to check and see that no one else was on the line when you used the telephone that stuck up off the desk like in a nineteen-thirty’s movie. It was a time when finding that perfect slingshot crotch in the Box Elder trees behind the Alice Hall was something worth remembering

If someone would have used the words “play date “ back then,  they would have been looked at like they had two heads. We had to use imagination then, my horse, the one that was killed along with me in the charge up San Juan Hill with Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders, was a lath I pulled from a snow fence down by the lumber yard. Yeah, we had a lumber yard too back then. We were cowboys and adventurers and Visigoths and Vikings, and scientists and explorers riding and running for miles into the country and back again, experiencing our world of  farms and ranches, inhabited and abandoned and gravel pits and sloughs and creek beds and ravines and waving grass and wheat fields and the occasional grove of trees under a sky so wide it defied explanation.

We didn’t know from wind chill charts back then. If it was cold… well “you better bundle up, ‘cause it’s a little breezy don’chya know. ” It was a time when walking backwards a half a mile to school to keep your face from freezing solid warranted not a second thought. Being from the prairies, the wind was simply a fact of life. It never occurred to me that there might be places where it didn’t blow. I remember a time when I was ten or eleven and I saw a picture of a winter scene in New England, where the snow had piled up over a foot on the top of a split-rail fence. My first thought was that it was trick photography, snow just doesn’t fall like that.

Goose down and Gore-tex and four wheel drive were concepts we hadn’t even imagined. A woolen cap with flaps over the ears and a heavy coat with a collar out of imitation fur and brogans underneath our four buckle overshoes was high winter fashion in nineteen fifty-five North Dakotah.

I guess I never realized how unsophisticated we were, we were like some nineteen forties movie or a Norman Rockwell painting and to tell the honest truth

I miss it.

I miss the honesty, the innocence, the wide eyed naiveté. We’ve got smart phones and I-Pads, digital cameras and computers. But we’ve lost our sense of joy I think, our sense of wonder at it all. To tell the honest truth

I miss it.

You see, for me, from my memory to my heart is…

A Journey of No Distance

Though I am alone

and far from there

I have them with me still

those things I love.

The winter nights

The Northern Lights

summer’s yellow green

the amber gold of fall

and quiet

quiet so quiet

almost I feel

I am an interloper

in a foreign land

When the crystal shard of a Meadowlark at song

serves it seems

only to define the silence

When the haunting call of an austral bound Canada Goose

vibrates the very ashes of my bones.

And wind.

Wind that prowls a winter night.

Wind for whom power lines

like harp strings tightly strung

resonate in sympathy.

Wind that whispers

through thigh high grass

in a reflection of itself.

Though I am alone

and far from there

I have them with me still

those things I love

because you see

it is a journey of no distance

from my memory to my heart