Drove up to New Auburn with the kids yesterday, to a get-together on one of the lakes. Right through town, out Highway M, “Jabowski’s” corner, Highway 40, into the lakeshore area where you meet a lot of Minnesota and Illinois plates heading home Sunday afternoon. So lush there, it’s that thick green time of year, and man, it was saudade like sixty. One memory after another. The joy of being in a pocket of country that is like a pocket of my heart, mixed with the longing to spin the odometer backward 30 years just so I could have one more childhood afternoon, see the place when it was mostly farms few and far between and everyone was some sort of grownup hero character. And yet I love the place in the present as well, tattered trailers, new driveways, the abandoned or repurposed buildings, signs of wear, old overgrown patches, changed, sure, but a living, evolving picture growing layer on layer over the place it always was.
I always feel vaguely embarrassed discussing saudade. There are all the questions of what happens when reminiscence and sentimentality mingle. Harmless enough now and then, the occasional lazy dog-paddle through it all is peaceful enough, but in the end one attempts to be firm with oneself and return to the shores of the present, where there is work to be done (more to the point: diapers to be changed). It is also impossible, when drifting along this way, to think of the blind privilege these memories represent. In a word: freedom.
My favorite view of the day: Halfway through Jabowski’s corner, looking north out across the big swamp, the tamarack tips more blue than green in the haze, the great primordial breadth of it giving you just a hint of what this place was before anybody two-footed showed up.
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