Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Tee-pee, wakefulness, to-pee. And shower and swimming and packing. And bought a piece of pipestone as a gift, for who I don’t yet know. And then Pipestone latte (oh yeah) and breakfast. And the Pipestone County Museum, well worth the $3 admission. Here’s a little something and it goes like this: On the trail of glass-plate photographer David Rambow, Pipestone local and supposed Museum director. Ex-, as we later find, but that’s what takes us to the Museum, where Helen is more than helpful. She finds us David’s cell number, and hands me the phone. David is in transition to Iowa, but says “That’s exactly it, you got it,” when I say that what I see in his photos is an attempt to capture the lifetimes a subject has lived. I want him to photograph Moona and me, to mark this occasion, but alas, it is not to be at this time. But sucked into the museum we are, and here’s what Minnesota is proud of: Prince (Duh!) Kitty litter, tilt-a-whirl (which baffles chaos theorists to this day) rice cakes, water skis, and trains.

Helen also directs us to the Little Feather Indian Interpretive Center, where we meet Chuck and Gloria and spend some time communing with these magick folks. Gloria has set up an exhibit devoted to native women of all tribes, and has done so at the instruction of a vision, which also guides her to do the same work in Europe and Jerusalem. Indian dancer women, and doctor women, and earning a place of respect to sooth the gender divide. Powerful stuff. Before we leave she gives us a picture of angel wings to keep us safe on our journey. These connections are the kind that I’ve been seeking… just a open-hearted sharing of ideas, a curiosity about other lives, an unguarded appreciation for different experiences this time around. Helen tells me that recently a visitor to the museum has dissed this small-town life, but I find immeasurable value in it: in community, in daily connection and support, and of having a sense of place on this planet.

Away from the soul-sucking numbness of the highway, on country back roads, we continue eastward. I get why this part of the US is called the Heartland… it’s impossible to view these beautiful kept, aesthetically reassuring farms and not feel a sense of heart, a poignancy for this way of life that many of our families knew fairly recently. It’s still there, my friends, and though I love San Francisco and the type of community we enjoy there, this is also a very special and connected way to live. All of my interactions are tinged with a sweetness that stems from people caring for each other in ways that are necessary, healthy and sustainable. Many years ago, when I lived at Lothlorien, a fairy came through with the slogan “Keeping Each Other Alive.” This has a resonance that I long to create in my daily life.

We drive through Walnut Grove of Little House fame, and stop for an ice-cream. Again I see through Moona’s fresh clear eye as she inquires about the “water on the road that disappears when we drive up to it.” She’s talking about the optical illusion created by heat reflected on the pavement, and I’d years ago learned not to see it. I relearn today how to. And it’s magick… I invite you to try and find it. It’s quite beautiful, as road visions go. How often can we use the word “shimmering” in our daily experiences?

And then it’s city, and I have to remember two hands on the wheel, and can’t GPS, text and atlas while driving anymore. And it’s CELL RECEPTION, Hurray! And I’ve missed it. Arriving road-weary but joyous at Mindi’s, where Moona finally gets her screen time and is laugh-out-loud tickled at Kung Fu Panda. Thanks for the hard drive, Thibaut. Just in time. The lovely and bad-ass (!) Mindi cooks for us, and conversation with a friend is such road medicine. My favorite moment is hearing “gay married” used as a verb as in “My friend gay-married my other friend.” Love it. And sleep, no so much, but sometimes that’s fun too.