I’ve always been drawn to remoteness, old farmhouses and a chill in the air. My recent visit to my childhood home in Burke, South Dakota offered it all up for me. A blizzard, below zero temps and a borrowed four-wheel drive vehicle to venture anywhere I dared.
Around Burke, South Dakota—January 2020
Thank you Willa for being my photographic partner in crime.
Moving thousands of miles away from the security of family and friends, settling or cultivating unfamiliar land and trying to create something out of nothing is what many of our ancestors did in order to create a new life for themselves and their families.
PIONEERnoun: a person who is among the first to explore or settle a new country or area
HOMESTEADERnoun: someone who acquires or occupies territory as a homestead
I believe my heart and mind are new territories meant to be explored continually—expectations managed as circumstances dictate. I’m a pioneer on my very own emotional homestead, granted the privilege to manage exactly as I choose.
Excerpt fromThe Homestead Act of 1862
“Claimants were required to “improve” the plot by building a dwelling and cultivating the land. After 5 years on the land, the original filer was entitled to the property, free and clear…”
“The Homestead Act, enacted during the Civil War in 1862, provided that any adult citizen, or intended citizen, who had never borne arms against the U.S. government could claim 160 acres of surveyed government land. Claimants were required to “improve” the plot by building a dwelling and cultivating the land. After 5 years on the land, the original filer was entitled to the property, free and clear, except for a small registration fee. Title could also be acquired after only a 6-month residency and trivial improvements, provided the claimant paid the government $1.25 per acre. After the Civil War, Union soldiers could deduct the time they had served from the residency requirements.”
Yup, I said it and I mean it. Let me explain myself a bit.
For years I wouldn’t purchase“Proven Winners”at the garden center or read anything on The New York Times Best Sellers List. I’ve always preferred the less shiny, weathered or worn out…the underdogs.
Maybe this quality is a reaction to the relative comfort in which I was raised. I was already given so many advantages, shouldn’t I just accept second best? Doesn’t that balance the universe out a little tiny bit more? More on ZERO SUM THEORY next year.
Now, I understand this thinking as an attempt to differentiate myself. Because of course “Proven Winners“ are a solid choice, especially for casual gardeners. And not reading The New York Times best selling books…well, that’s just plain ridiculous.
OK, back to manifest and why I’ve come to dislike it. It’s lost its gravity for me. You know, like when “love ya” is tossed off and repeated far too often. Yuck, whatever...
So, I looked up the words related to MANIFEST on the Merriam Webster and found them far more provocative; bare, disclose, unbosom, uncloak, uncover, advertise, blaze, proclaim, trumpet…
I have a treasure trove of vintage polaroids I bought at the Sandwich, Massachusetts Flea Market a few years ago for twenty bucks. I found them yesterday in my studio and had an idea.
Do I look a little bored, mad or just caught off guard? Burt does seem to be scanning the room and not being terribly attentive to me. Who knows what sort of crap he pulled before they started snapping photos of us? Maybe my expression was entirely appropriate.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a photo of Elliot Gould. Hewas entirely swoonworthy to me as a 12-year-old watching M.A.S.H. with my Dad. I just had to make it work with the Burt Reynolds. 😃
Maybe our date was arranged by the studio? Oh, Hollywood…
My big sister, Laurie, on the other hand, truly adored Bobby Sherman. She looks quite thrilled with her 1971 Golden Globes date. Mr. Sherman appears to be relaxed, attentive and at ease.
I’m pretty sure, Laurie would’ve been equally thrilled to be photoshopped with Donny Osmond, or David Cassidy from The Partridge Family. It just wasn’t in the polaroids.
Here’s to childhood crushes.
Who were yours?
PLEASENOTE:Richard Dreyfuss, Kris Kristofferson or Gabe Kaplan were my other childhood crushes. Unfortunately there weren’t any photos of them in the lot I purchased.
my great-grandmother or my grandmother for that matter on my maternal side. Nora died in 1938 before my mother was born and my grandmother, Mildred died before I was born.
However, in this chapter of my tender, and profoundly inquisitive, middle-age life, I want to know more about the women I share DNA with. They’re a part of me, my mannerisms, my choices and so much more that I’m completely unaware of. I need to know more.
Who was Nora? Mildred? What did they love? What did they fear? What made them laugh?
Unraveling the mystery of who they were simply will not leave me alone right now.
My father died just over a year ago and I so wish we had videotaped him telling some of his favorite stories. When families start losing a generation, the stories often disappear too.
This Thanksgiving folks, ask the elders at the table to share their stories. Let the kids ask questions and record their responses. You will be so happy to have the assurance that these treasured stories won’t disappear and can be shared for generations.
Enjoy your time together asking about the good ole’ days.
PS To any Kyte or Millette relatives who might read this, please contact me. I would love to learn more about Nora and Mildred. I would be so grateful for anything you’re willing to share.
I’ve had a really hard time getting out of my own way lately. So, I asked myself this very question.
OK, Lisa, are they real or imagined?
Damnit, I had to answer honestly…most of them, of course, are imagined.
They aren’t barriers per se, they’re just excuses—everyday run of the mill, tried and true excuses I’ve used for years and years and will continue to use far too frequently. However, now I have to face at least a little personal accountability, especially around my creative goals.
So, what barriers are you willing to bust through to reach your goals?
when the world feels like a batshit crazy place is pretty challenging. I don’t know the best way to access a more grounded version of myself, but I do know the quickest. When I’m acting childish and feeling like I deserve more (or less) of whatever—a little gratitude for all of the good things in my life seems to ground me the most.
Gratitude not attitude seems to do the trick.
grounded—mentally and emotionally stable: admirably sensible, realistic, and unpretentious (Merriam Webster)
I’m not entirely sure about “admirably sensible” or “unpretentious“. However, feeling grounded, well, that’s worth a little exploration.
I shot these images somewhere northwest of Burke, South Dakota last Saturday. I really want to learn more about the history of this house. If anyone sees this and has more details, please let me know. The starkness and that big South Dakota sky just made me swoon.
I can just imagine the stories of the families that lived there. Work & Rest. Health & Illness. Joy & Heartache. Births & Deaths. Bounty & Scarcity. Warmth and Bone-Chilling Cold.