I was born in a tiny prairie town in southern Minnesota. I knew neither woods nor lakes, but changing seasons of the wind: from quiet cool spring mornings, to unending blistering hot summer afternoons, to autumns of falling magical colored leaves and the scent of baking apples, to winters of freezing winds and blankets of concealing snow.
Image credit: nature.org
My mom, grandma and grandpa, and I lived in an apartment above grandpa’s drug store. He worked all day, every day. My father was a soldier in France, as this was during WWII.
Every spring, summer, and fall Friday night, the high school band sounded loud and patriotic below our apartment windows. Students playing trumpets, trombones, a tuba, a big bass drum, and several small snare drums marched down Main Street and into the little city park. Then we had cold potato salad, fried chicken, boiled corn on the cob, and homemade buns. Best of all, kids ran around and grown-ups talked.
My grandma made special dishes on Thanksgiving and Christmas; creamed onions and baked cranberry pudding were my favorites. Nobody said where these recipes were from or where our family was from. Only when I learned of records of two earlier family members’ genealogical research did I know much about that.
I loved that small town and all the people, pets, paths, and smells in it. Grandma and Grandpa knew the whole town. Grandpa grinned at everyone coming into his drugstore. And I mean grinned. I would sit and read the comics and magazines he sold and if I didn’t look up and grin myself and say hi when someone came in, they would call a greeting or walk over to me with a big grin themselves. Grandpa was the mayor for a while. Grandma taught Sunday School from the time my dad and his sister were little up to when I was little, until her heart condition made her rest a lot.
Later I would learn of other kinds of prairie towns. I would travel from this southern Minnesota town to live in a more central and larger prairie town and many times travel to the Northern lakes and woods. Paddling canoes, swimming, and camping in an outdoors of crashing waterfalls and tall white pines, climbing rounded granite hills, and listening to the echoing yodels of regal loons strengthened and energized me in a profound way. I was much older before I realized how deep the wide prairie and high sky had also grown and taken root within me.
Minnesota is known as the land of 10,000 lakes. Actually, 11,842 that each cover at least 10 acres. Yet it is rich with additional natural resources and beauty that shape its history and culture.
Indian Nations settled Minnesota long ago. In the 1800′s the US government and European settlers drove out or killed many First Nations people. Immigrants from Germany, Norway, Ireland, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Scotland, France, China, the former Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Italy, India, Mexico, The Philippines, Poland, Vietnam, Korea, Bosnia, Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Liberia, Laos, Cambodia, Nigeria, and many other nations settled in and continue to make Minnesota their home. I am gratefully descended from at least eight of these nations. Minnesota is a young state working to grow its identity and strength within a large young country.
I am grateful to have found and joined The Magic Diary Project while taking a Duke University online writing MOOC through Coursera. The Magic Diary travels all over the world to collect stories of people and their dreams. It isn’t stuck in one place or time or on one idea of what the world is or how it should be. In the stories carried by The Magic Diary I learn of people, their lives, their adventures and their challenges. I admire the emotion, honesty, and wisdom of these many writers from around the world.
I write about Lila, who is given the diary on a magical island in the boundary waters canoe country that bridges Canada and the United States. I have been to that area myself.
I am proud to be a part of this global family so that I can learn and listen with my heart and with writers around the world tell stories of truth, love, peace and community.
–Lyn Cramer, Editor & Author