Leaving the Paper

One day in August of 2016, my husband and I flew from Boston to Minneapolis, picked up a rental car, and set out for Spicer, Minn. The drive, long familiar, takes two hours. It begins in the orderly sprawl of the Twin Cities, then passes through towns increasingly compact, connected by only a two-lane highway. On either side runs a patchwork of fields, green and gold in summer, that steadily flattens, yielding to the sky. Clouds layer into a far-off distance, as though nothing this good can be repeated enough. Though I have lived on the East Coast for more than 40 years, these surroundings constitute my home landscape. Whenever I return, they invariably relax my grip on the world. This time, though, the effect was muted. For once, no place felt better than another. Our destination was the cottage on Green Lake that had been occupied by members of my mother’s family for more than 100 years. Its most recent owner was her younger sister, Mary. Ill with cancer, Mary had died in the cottage just before the Fourth of July. We were there to attend her memorial service. Though rooted in northeastern South Dakota, my immediate family crossed … Continue reading Leaving the Paper