This is the road most traveled in my life – from home with my parents in Mankato to the home of my father’s parents, and before that of his grandmother, and before that of his great-grandparents and their children. A couple of weekends per month – and when there wasn’t school, I’d remain with my grandparents for extra days: the porch, the garden and its lawn chairs under apple, plum, and maple trees, the Tracy bike, the second floor window nook, the kitchen table.
Furniture accumulated here when Gram’s aunts died – and pictures, and books, and dish sets, and the odds bits the women saved to record their lives: postcards from the road, calling cards from another day and a marriage that can’t be traced, all-in-one-room-schoolhouse teaching journals that traced spice and geography, events and world histories, lists of classroom whisperings and drawings during teaching lulls, and long passages from public voices that the writer would deliver in recitation at community gatherings.
Wales and immigration. Civil War and emigration. Church and education. Books and newspapers. Cooking and gardens. Carpentry and sewing. Brains were raised here and human bonds were nurtured here: a grandmother and a granddaughter and her son and his daughter.
This road, this place, these people – this is what made me.