A small town in Northwest Minnesota. A grandparent in the graveyard the price of full admission. My friend who lived there 20 years reading at Mass while I stood in the back with my restless child and a woman asked who he was and the other answered, oh that’s Ted F. He’s new in town.
I remember my boss, an avid outdoorsman, who wanted to shoot all the cormorants for stealing his fish. I remember the giant cormorants like feathered pterodactyls. I remember the roar of snowmobiles a block down the street on the lake sundering the silence of a new snowfall. I could not hear my boots crunch as I walked.
I remember the smell of spreading manure outside of town. I recall the faux pas when I did not help my wife’s friend with his roof. I remember I never went in the ditch. I remember a sky covered with thousands of noisy geese flying south at the cusp of winter. I named my sailboat on the lake Tchoupitoulas, and remember how nervous I was to stand on its berth in February.
I remember taking my children to an actual pumpkin patch, the melons still on the vine, and cornfield mazes with hayrides and bonfires. I remember cutting a Christmas tree in the 20° dark with a hand saw to bring home. I remember the laughter and shrieks of my children sledding, and the stillness of snowshoeing by the river on a windless, sunny, 10° day.
My son bears the scars of the snail born disease you could get swimming at the lake. My daughter escaped having her aunt’s woebegone accent. I heard the scream of Katrina and hurried home, never looking back.
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