ancestral wisdom…

Today, I picked up, “The Literature of South Dakota” by John R. Milton.  This book was a gift to me from my grandfather when I was in college.  It fell open onto a short story, “ARCADIA IN AVERNUS” written by my great, great uncle, Will Otis Lillibridge 1878-1909.  Actually a pretty racy story for the time.  “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind” is the subtitle.  Here’s the summary.The literature of South Dakota

Unhappy wife leaves marriage of convenience for another man, the couple running away to the Dakota prairie to set up housekeeping. All seems romantically well… until the ex shows up. Surprisingly modern (if a little theatrical) novella from the early 1900’s. From the posthumous collection of Lillibridge short stories, A Breath of Prairie, 1911. Arcadia In Avernus
There’s a term that’s haunting me.  In the short story a woman has a dream that she’s in a desolate place and she hears out of the darkness the sounds of human suffering.  The voices grow louder and she sees a man and woman walking toward her.  They are bent beneath a tremendous burden and both have wounds where they’ve carried the load.
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In her dream she asks the man, “What rough load is that you carry?” and he wearily answers, The burden of conventionality“.
“We dare not drop it”, says the woman, hopelessly, “lest that light, which is the searchlight of public opinion return, showing us different from the others”.
He answers her gently, “But the burden isn’t useless, the condemnation of society is an hourly reality.”
We all must carry the burden of conventionality sometimes.  However, we also can choose to write novels (or join the circus or whatever) because we just never know how much time we have.
Thank you Uncle Will, you’re unconventionalness is a source of inspiration indeed.

Lillibridge looking back at SD

 

 

Happy Father’s Day!

One of my favorite memories with my Dad this year was surprising him at his induction into the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  The banquet was held right around the time of the state tournaments in March.  Basketball was a really big connector for my family—both watching and playing.

I wasn’t a great player by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m sure I was better because of Dad’s coaching and shooting hoops after supper.  My Dad actually sent someone into the locker room at half time to tell me that I wasn’t getting my feet off the floor on my jump shots in a game against our rivals, Gregory.  He was right and I don’t remember exactly, but I suspect that didn’t make me jump much higher.

It was a privilege to hear all of the other high school basketball stories from around South Dakota.  We laughed, we cried and we celebrated hard work, talent and competitiveness.

So on this Father’s Day in 2017 thank you for helping create the woman I am today.  And if you don’t feel like claiming any responsibility, well that’s OK too Dad.  No harm.  No foul.

 

ego vs. heart

Somehow folks, photographs of Herrick, South Dakota struck at the heart of many people…actually WAY more people than had ever read my blog before.  So, at first it fed my ego.  I was obsessively checking the number of viewers I had for those Herrick photographs.  (Obsessively is almost too small of a word for my behavior.)  I kept thinking about the comments of people who grew up in Herrick and moved away.  A former babysitter of mine wrote and people were connecting about their love of Herrick and rural South Dakota.  That was a blast for me.  Thank you.

This morning in my NIA dance class we did a move that protected our hearts and then we gave them out to the world.  Arms closed and wrapped in protection across our hearts then opened wide. It made me think about EGO vs. HEART—protecting the way the world sees me vs. vulnerability & social risk.  I was thinking about the volume of traffic I had to my site and then it all went straight to my heart.  Arms wide and then crossed.  Try it, it’s kind of a cool way to get a sense of vulnerability and protection in your body.  I’m not surprised that my pictures of Herrick, South Dakota sparked so much interest and dialogue.

I think the geography of our upbringing is in our bones.

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“…voluntary settlement to a frontier area tends to produce individualism.”  Geographical Psychology; Exploring the Interaction of Environment and Behavior edited by Peter J. Renfrow.  Cool, huh?  I often think about the freedom and spaciousness I was allowed growing up on the prairie. It was awesome AND I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of Burke.  To quote Joni Mitchell, “I got the urge for going”.

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My settlement in Burke was involuntary at my birth, however, it did produce a sense of individualism in me.  I suspect in many others too (judging by your response to my photos, shut up ego, let the heart take over).  In the book I referenced it suggests that people in frontier areas are naturally more suspicious of outsiders because of the potential to spread disease.  Fascinating lizard brain stuff, huh?

For many reasons “pioneer & frontier thinking” has been bouncing around in my head a lot lately.  Last week a relative sent me this article about my Great Grandfather, Lowell Stanton Lillibridge, pioneer banker. These few paragraphs tell a great story about pioneer life in South Dakota at the turn of the century.

I’m grateful I have a different lens to view the landscape that informed who I am.  I’m not wild about some other middle aged issues, but I do appreciate the wisdom.

I haven’t lived in South Dakota since 1989.  I moved to Vermont on New Year’s Day 1990, and yet an image of a South Dakota two-lane highway is my constant muse.  Funny how different things look with a quite few more years in the rear view mirror.

I encourage you to think about what specifically speaks to you about the geography you experienced growing up.  What’s your “South Dakota two-lane”?  That image got me through some rough dental work last week.  You might want to consider a landscape as a sort of meditation…a “go to” place when you need to settle your brain down.

Thank you for reading.  I’m truly grateful for your time.

Yesterday was one of the best days of my life…

and I feel like it needs to be acknowledged.  I actually had a moment where I told my husband, Jeff “this is one of my favorite days of my life”. They don’t roll around all the time and they deserve to be savored.

I have to tell you about mine—July 22nd, 2015.

We got up early (6am) and went to the Sandwich, Massachusetts Flea Market to hunt for treasures.  After a stop at Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee with our friend, Christie we began our quest for the odd and collectable.  I found a gorgeous bowl and this tablecloth that I may use as part of a piece for the STRUT fashion show in Burlington, VT in September. Both cost me 9 bucks.

sandwich flea market lillibridge bowl

http://www.thesandwichbazaar.com/summer-market

Then we lathered on sunscreen and took our kayaks to Bourne, Massachusetts.  We wanted a light lunch before we peddled (we have peddle kayaks, not a typo) so we stopped at one of our favorite places; The Lobster Trap for a stuffed quahog and a beer. I ordered a Leinenkugel Summer Shanty (low alcohol, lemony & refreshing) and the rep. for Leinenkugel was seated next to us so our beers were on him.  A nice surprise.

If you don’t know what a stuffed quahog is I have to share with you.  This seafood item is one of the reasons I married my husband.  That was about 25 years ago.  It’s a clam, cooked, chopped and mixed with stuffing, chorizo (a spicy Portuguese sausage that goes beautifully with seafood), celery, onion, garlic and then put back into the shell and baked. You then cover them with butter, a squeeze of lemon (and for me TABASCO sauce) and enjoy.

Jeff wrote this story about them…funny how a stuffed clam can loom so large in our lives.

http://springtideleadership.com/2012/06/09/how-to-make-the-perfect-stuffed-quahog/

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http://www.lobstertrap.net/home

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http://www.sturgisboatworks.com/ (Where we got these boats.)

Next we took our Hobie peddle kayaks to Monument Beach and unloaded them.  They are fast so you can cover a lot of territory.  I personally couldn’t paddle as far as I can peddle.  We’ve never been boaters and we never have the right gear for anything we do, but I have to admit that these boats have been a blast.  I love seeing the world from the vantage point of the water.

We watched young osprey about to take their first flight (the parents were encouraging them in a tone not unlike mine when I’m trying to get my teenagers to do something). Sorry kids. It wasn’t a pretty birdsong, but watching them was fascinating.

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We heard people laughing on the beach, zig zagged between moored sailboats, saw amazing houses and got to the rough seas at the start of the Cape Cod Canal channel near Mashnee Island…we quickly turned around though to explore calmer waters. I like a little danger in my kayaking, but I’m not stupid.  We went into the Eel River which was stunning.  We saw cranes, oyster beds and homes right on the water that gave it that swampy feeling and with the canopy of the trees it was really cool.

The beauty of this day—alone with my husband on an adventure, free beer, a stuffed quahog, seeing wildlife, getting exercise, fresh air and learning how to read the sea was pretty wonderful.

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After a swim to cool off and loading up the kayaks we headed home to shower and take off for a Neil Young concert at the Xfinity Center.  It was a great show—amazing people watching.  Neil Young is probably the musician that informed my young life the most during my freshman year of college in Sioux Falls, South Dakota (University of Sioux Falls, formerly Sioux Falls College—back in the day). Oh, and we didn’t know they were coming but Jeff’s brother, Joe and his wife Gretchen were there too…another fun surprise of the day.

jeff and lisa at neil young neil young lillibridge

I’m not writing this to tell you how awesome my life is.  I’m writing this to encourage everyone to really take notice of those special days and moments in our lives.  We need them to call upon during our darker times.  Honor those days.  It makes life sweet.