I’m writing this from rural Minnesota. In late December. We awoke to pale blue skies and temperatures several notches below zero. The sun continued its slow assault on the 5″ of snow we received several days ago, perhaps chipping away millimeters a day as the ground cover crusted over, turning to ice. There’s evidence that snowmobiles cut across the front lawn again last night, creating an ad hoc highway between the farmlands and downtown several miles away. You can look out for miles on an endless horizon, your view only hampered every few dozen feet by cornstalk stubble.
This frozen morning made me wonder: where do our talents emerge? More to the point, assuming we all have hidden (if unrealized) talents, what is the alchemy that finally brings them forth? What gentle, or violent, curation brings them to fruition?
For me, my nascent “song” writing begun in junior high blossomed into what can only be called by its proper name–poetry–in mid-high school. I stapled my first collection together (written and revised, before I even knew what revision was) and gave it to friends. It was called Scenes & Fields. I still don’t know where that title came from. But I love it. It may still be the best title I’ve ever given something. It was also so bold to write it, to print it, and to share it with others. I was either incredibly arrogant or incredibly naive with my talents. Maybe I was just incredibly brave.
Either way, I created it in quiet moments, alone. I looked out onto suburban landscapes of season-ended golf courses, browned and forgotten tree clusters, and parklands abandoned by people but repopulated by Canada geese. In an ironic gesture I wrote what I saw, dreaming of getting out, in the meantime securing all that was around me to memory through blue pen ink.
Likewise, many miles and years later, I look out from our temporary house, literally in the middle of cornfields, and think to myself that this scene, this feeling, this moment can only be described using the title I dreamed up half a lifetime ago.
I don’t miss any of it, of course. But there’s a romance to things past. Crystallized like the snow wrapping us tight: either holding us in a comforting embrace or holding us back from what lies beyond.