Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Joey and I drove up north to visit family and friends for the day. Thinking about the surroundings, it is strange how things have changed. The grocery store across the railroad tracks from the other grocery store has closed. Another store closed in the same location as how many other ventures before them. The bank bought a new screen to advertise the latest news in town. The theaters are still open with movies that opened the month before, and still cost only cost $5. Then there are the lack of recognition, trying to remember if there was a building there or not.

The strangest, but most impressive, new addition are the wind mills that stretch for miles along the highway. Before, it was just fields and shelter belts where usually farmsteads reside. I can see almost why Don Quixote might see the windmills as monsters, but they are much too tall (and metal!) for him now. On the other hand, I love their stark whiteness against the sky and their purpose gives me hope for the future. North Dakota needs more of these monsters, or angels, along the prairie. We have such wind here, so much we could power a fourth of the country alone.

Then there are the huge painted rocks on the way, announcing different celebrations. One of them was for the couple's open house we were attending. As a kid, I always searched for these along the side of the road, wondering if it was different event announced than the last time we drove by.

My mother gave me a bowl while we were visiting. While on the phone, she told me it had wheat on it. "You remember what wheat looks like?" I answered, "Of course!" How could she think I could forget? My father grew wheat outside of our own yard. There were acres of it that we would examine for scab or hope that the summer storms wouldn't flatten them. During our drive, Joey would ask me what was growing in the field after I pointed out sunflowers and corn along the interstate. We also saw pinto beans, wheat, barley, and potatoes.

I like to think of this weekend almost as an exercise, searching the landscape for details. It also gave me a good comparison of details, giving attention to what is, what was, and what could be. It could be used as an observer, a conversation between people, or even the difference between the city and the country. To me, during this weekend, it was looking back at long long details of my growing up and how I could use them to spruce up my own writing someday.

Not a bad way to spend a weekend, at all.


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