Thursday, July 19, 2018

Mother Land: retold

Stopped in at a garage sale in Dickinson, at the peak of the fracking oil boom, actually, located close by the border of Montana and Nowhere. That's the name of a town.

Just up the line is where Teddy Roosevelt nurtured his rugged manliness in the local Cowboy culture, only later to lose his sorry Progressive ass on a woe be gone Cattle Ranch investment.

Denizens of North Dakota, those rooted to the land, at least, suffer indomitable excesses of weather, while Teddy Roosevelt, once a sickly child cum Harvard graduate, had a Daddy who was a rich man, half a continent removed back in the robust confines of New York City.

It is not recorded if Roosevelt declared war on his insipid advisors. If he had, the concept of Banana Republic might be only a line of garish men's couture with a wayward appeal.

The lady who I bought the new-in-the-box router and self adjusting vise grips from was an elderly widow and permanent resident about to be uprooted by progress and big oil corporations with unlimited lines of credit. Not surprisingly, the two of us Norkis fell into an amicable conversation, me, full of questions, plying her for the wealth of information she had garnered over time. She seemed well adjusted to her situation - probably saw it coming - yet, a generally pleasant, and, intelligent person.

This wasn't the first Boom to come and go. dot Gov was better prepared, while owning the highest employment rate in the country, plus the settlers a century earlier had established a fair and equitable system to hold and repair property in their families. The cycle of seasons, weather and disaster was a known equity, except, perhaps those smitten with the endless sky and rustic promise of the land. Like me.

I was more alarmed than she, of course, having just arrived on a mission of opportunity, one I hid not too well, I suppose. Still, I was in awe of the massive economic shift I had realized, and the region experienced, so close behind the home mortgage crisis. The mass of humanity that had descended on the place from all corners of the world was something I'd never witnessed either. A telling perspective, a harbinger of things to come. If one knew the signs.

Generous, a bit lonely, like most Norsk we know, she spoke knowledgeably of her life, recent changes in the state as well, and I detected a dry humor beneath her engaging commentary. At one point, even, expressing her admiration for her life long home.

"North Dakota is the greatest state in the Union", she declared.

Her gaze met mine, and with that same clarity and conviction she had spoken with. Captured by the friendly, yet, mysterious irony - a wry spark of wisdom embedded deep in her eye - I believed in her, totally .

Only two generations prior, for that matter, my grandparents made their own destiny, a ranch and farm somewhere to the North, stories i heard, lured by free land, rich soil and endless vistas. I'd seen old faded photographs of when they were young, younger than I, the small town with its dirt streets, facades on the buildings to add some importance, pictures of rattlesnakes, a Halloween parade, a model T and one an illegible horizon - of wheat, stretching into faded white and beyond.
Change uprooted them, also, both drought and Depression. Until one day they arrived, out of the wilderness with children in tow, to disembark from a railroad car, under the eye of JJ Hill's aerie mansion on the hill, perhaps, to where the breadbasket of America brought its bounty to the northernmost port on the Mississippi.

It wasn't until later, quite by coincidence, I came across where the town once lie and the humble existence they'd attempted to carve out of that unforgiving plain. I wasn't surprised really.

wind from the prairie
dries my sleeves-
these purple flowers
all bearing thorns

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