Stern. Reserved. Strict. Perhaps even judgmental or cold.
So she appears in this photograph from an indeterminate time and an unknown place, but as she herself might have said, appearances can be relieving [sic].
To her cousins, she was a caution. To my mother, whose great-aunt she was, Rilla was just slightly dangerous, a force to be reckoned with, a strange, self-possessed woman whose refusal of rules and wicked sense of humor made her a favorite among the children.
She returned the children’s affection, although she often scandalized more conventional relatives with her baby-sitting techniques. Confronted with a passle of bored children, she was capable of sending them to the back yard with a stack of 78 rpm records and a hammer, essentially saying, “Have at it.” From what my mother recalled of the unfolding events on one such afternoon, “It was fun.” (more…)
Like all great migrations it began slowly, in fits and starts, ebbing back toward the known, the comfortable and familiar before once again surging forward into uncertainty.
Driven by curiosity as well as by commerce, enticed by rumor or persuaded by reason, traders and caravaners, mountain men, shopkeepers and scouts followed in the footsteps of men like Zebulon Pike, overcoming first one obstacle and then another as they created the collection of loosely-bundled routes we know today as the Santa Fe Trail. (more…)
To set out under compulsion, to travel in ambiguity, to depend on little more than dreams and a star for guidance – such was the fate of the Magi.
Tradition tells us the names of those who sought the infant Jesus – Gaspar, Balthasar, and Melchior. Tradition also describes the nature of their gifts, filled with symbolism and fit for any King, infant or otherwise – gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Matthew tells their story with perfect simplicity, although his narrative lacks the sort of detail that satisfies human curiosity. In his account, the Magi travel, seek, consult, find, and then, fearful of a king named Herod and his murderous intents, “depart by another way”. Just as they catch our interest, the Magi are gone, disappearing over history’s horizon forever. (more…)
They never owned a car and they didn’t drive, so someone made a special effort to bring Grandma and Grandpa – my father’s parents – to my third birthday celebration.
For most occasions and on nearly every weekend, we were the ones who traveled the thirty-five miles to their home, a modest frame house in one of Iowa’s tiny coal-mining communities. Why the routine was broken here I can’t say, but I cherish the snapshot, my only image of this improbable couple sitting next to one another.
Born in Sweden, they traveled to America as strangers on the same ship. After meeting and marrying in Minneapolis, they moved to Iowa, struggled through the Depression, raised six children and delighted in their grand-children. Then, they were gone. (more…)