Friday, November 11, 2016

autumn interrupted

It feels weird to post these photos that I took last weekend, in that time between the death of my mother and the death of civility in our country. I yearn to be back but I have to admit I am also terrified. This actually is nothing new to me. I have always been wary of heading out into the middle of rural Wisconsin, putting my brown self in the middle of that conservative region. My early experiences weren't the greatest but they weren't that bad in that it could have been much, much worse. It was mostly ignorant curiosity about me that I encountered and really not that different from what I experience in the city, only in the city it is a bit more mild. Our response was to stay put on our land. It was my husband who would make the necessary trips into town.

These things I'm sharing today I have mostly kept to myself.


I would send him into town, rarely venturing forth myself with the exception of infrequent trips to the farmers market. My husband has a fierce love for breakfast so sometimes we would head in and those trips were full of anxiety for me. Some due to my own doubts but certainly the fear was fueled by the behavior of those around us.

A few years into it I started to notice tons of biracial kid in town. Not many, if any, people color but a rising number of biracial children grown in the early years I spent there.


Then my daughter was born. It is hard to admit my relief in seeing that she was born with light skin and dark hair. I prayed that she would not suffer the fear and indignant threats that I have endured my whole life. I couldn't bear the thought of bringing a person into this world that had the same dark brown skin as I have. 

These are things I am sharing today that I likely might not have last week or last month or last year. But those were times when my mother was still alive. I live differently in my own skin now. While I have very few readers to see these thoughts I do hope that one day my daughter will read my words, maybe from the very region I'm talking about.


My daughter was born and within the midst of new parenthood, I discovered a world of magic full of fairies and unicorns, plants and trees, earth and sky. Everything seemed new and everything seemed possible.

We started going to the farmers market on a regular basis and my daughter struck up a friendship with a little Mennonite girl from a family that lived nearby, who sold preserved goods at the market. My husband struck up friendships with local farmers and a local woodworker. I started talking with a college bound son of one of the local farmers, a son who was headed towards my own city, the city of lakes, Minneapolis.

More recently we have been getting to know a neighbor down the road who moved in two years ago. She is a hunter and an artist, she is woman who grows her own food, and she has two kids just a bit younger than my own. It feels like instant friendship.

It has taken years but we are getting to know the people of this region and many of them are warm and kind, friendly and compassionate, and full of pride for their county and lifestyle.


But there are others who I fear and those fears are getting stronger. Like the people at the house five miles away where we turn the corner to get to the river road that leads to our property. These people fly a confederate flag on a flagpole in front of their house. I wonder if they notice when we drive by. I wonder if they know where my airstream is in the woods.


There is the boy down the road from us who one day decided to drive by in his pickup with an American flag flying. Back and forth he drove by our property a dozen times. Dave had just left for a run into town. I was scared because hardly anyone drives by our property and by the 6th time I knew something was up. So I grabbed my kid and we stayed out of view. The boy finally stopped by after seeing the Jeep that returned with my husband. He wanted hunting rights on our property. I agreed but have yet to receive any venison which was negotiated in return for the hunting rights. Then there was the boy on the property right next to us who raised his rifle in the air as he looked at me when we drove by. It was more bragging than threat, but chilling nonetheless.


I think about what has been unleashed in our nation. What has been empowered? What has been sanctioned? What has been emboldened? What actions will be taken?

What has been done?

Yes, the sun has risen on a new day. And that day holds the same people that have always been there, most are kind but more than a few are threatening. I see them clearly, I always have but now my doubts are stronger. And with the leaves gone from the trees they can more easily see me nestled in my own property, my own retreat.

I titled this post last weekend in an attempt to write about how my mother's death has interrupted the beauty of autumn. Yet at that time I felt I could return and feel refreshed. And indeed I did.

But this weekend is entirely different. And I am more than a little bit fearful. I am expectant.

But I know I will return. Because this is the place where I know I am strong and hardy. This will be the place I teach my daughter to be the same.




4 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, friend. Sending love and strength for you to continue to be in your sacred woods.

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  2. I want to say so many things to you. Thank you for your bravery in posting this, even though it shouldn't take bravery - you're simply telling your story. But I know it takes bravery to admit fear. Also, I want to come out there and break some kneecaps. Seriously. You have a beautiful family, and are a beautiful woman raising a beautiful girl, a valued member of this society, and there is no excuse or sanction for bullying or threats. At all. It hurts my heart that you don't feel safe on your own land. But we're going to work together to take back this country from powers that only want isolation, insulation, and, frankly, white supremacy. It's not acceptable, to put it mildly. Just know that I'm with you, friend. And there are many more like me. Much love to you and your family.

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  3. I agree. You are very brave for sharing your thoughts this way. I will have more to say when I can take more time to digest your words.
    Thank you for sharing yourself with us.

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