When people say that it’s a small world, they don’t know just how small until they have lived in a small town. Life in northern Minnesota some days, though, it seems so much more than small, but rather incredibly intricate; really, each one of our stories so interwoven that we all make up the delicate fabric of our communities.
For example, I couldn’t ever count the number of times I cruised down Mishawaka Road, one of the many boarders of our city’s pride and joy, Pokegama Lake. The tarred trail passes a stereotypically classic summer camp, a year-round lake landing that serves as a portal for fishers of all seasons, and homes of all ages—from the updated and modern lake homes to those adorable vintage and kitschy cabins. It’s a great view for ride on a warm day with the windows rolled down while sipping on a DQ chocolate malt.
What had never occurred to me prior to this weekend, however, were the layers of memories of Mishawaka, hidden under the asphalt. It hadn’t occurred to me that there was a time when this now speed-bumped thoroughfare was an unpaved path that would be unpassable in the spring, resulting in a day without school. I never imagined what homes stood before the logged mansions that have only existed in my mind’s eye. This is the Mishawaka that I know.
On a beautiful Sunday May afternoon, four bothers—Tom, Dan, Roger, and Rick—taught me all about their Mishawaka, one from a different time and a different meaning. They were all together, here at home, helping one of their own move to South Carolina, effectively stretching the boys across the country, from east to west. But this was the center of their boyhood universe; they grew up between between the sandy shores and the one-time dirt drive. Their dad was local woodworker; he made cabinets for my grandparents’ lake home on the other side of Pokegama (See? Small world!). Their young lives were concentrated here on this nearly half-mile length of road, with time diffusing them out and away…but for the afternoon, they were back in their childhood years that were spent along this stretch of rural route. With such excitement they discussed the whos, whats and whens of each house we passed, complete with stories so animated it was as if the past was walking with us, laughing all along the way. They were here and there, back in time, one more time, all together; they were kind enough to invite me along to join in their reminiscing of their Mishawaka memories.
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