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  (ARCHIVES)Back to Current
The essence of Winona (08/28/2013)
Part V

Back when waterfowl first stopped over to rest on their avian way

To distant coasts south and east, flying from as far as what is now Alaska or Canada, ay!

Funneling down to this temporary sanctuary to fatten up and recoup Recalibrating compasses for the next mad dash and their next big swoop

What a sight it must have been, to have been the first to see,

Such a grand gathering of birds, and hear their trumpeting cacophony

Then gaggle after gaggle, flock after flock

Watch them flap and fly, against a vast backwater backdrop

Of autumn colors and fall blue sky, in freshening winds that portend,

The Brrrrrr of the coming winter and another year’s coming end

How marvelous it is, each season with its predictable and timely change

Especially when the nights are longest and the valleys are full of snow

With an imaginary glimpse beyond the cold we can comfortably know

Soon the sun will warm earth’s frozen ground and spring flowers will range

Oh to have been the first leaf peeper here

Before any other man, alone, with no one else to share

To have tears of awe from out of the heart well up in each eye

To have to blink to see clear and focus with long stare at the sky

Perhaps in joy to be alive, or maybe in question of the Who and the why

Indeed this must have been man’s first primal response

Ours too were we to experience this just once

Aye, alone with no one else to share

Oh to have been the first leaf peeper here!

When water pure in meandering streams did flow

Filtering through valleys and ravines into the lakes and channel down below

Before Indian trails did Wapasha prairie and Hiawatha country mark

Definitely long before Princess Wenonah’s statue stood in Windham Park

When there were deer galore, fox and coon, indeed a wide variety of what became game,

Before not too long, indeed perhaps too soon, when more settlers came

To homestead, some did, and for a long, long spell

While others continued down the road, which was just as well

All that was back before locks and dams, built to control water flow

And when river traffic, enhanced manifold, made our commerce really grow

Back before railroad tracks zippered across the land

Bringing a flood of immigrants, supplies, even contraband

Back when there was no need of lots of boxcars loaded with tons of sand

Before the steamboats and back before those trains

When the wheat shipped from here was the mainstay of grains

And lest some Civil War history be forgotten

That durum was way more important than Confederate cotton

And was sent all over the nation, to I dare say, and even to England,

Going by way of many towboats, down and up our rivers grand

And like the Alexander McKenzie plying the Mississippi

This was back when playing the current to steer around treacherous bends was really iffy

Theodore L. Schoewe 


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