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  Wednesday January 28th, 2015    

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Between engagements (01/30/2005)
By Janet Lewis Burns

"Once he carried a gun through the forests and was thrilled." "Once he cast a lure and shouted when the fish struck." "If he lifts his weary eyes, it is only to make sure he has not strayed from the trail." "His mind is wintry with despair and he never hears the old dog until the gray muzzle nudges his knee." -Mel Ellis, from "The Land, Always The Land"

In-between summer's heady balm and winter's crackling ice isn't usually as mild as this year's "Indian Summer" was. My muse twists with weather, as it turns from one season to another. My poetry's brief hatching, and frenzied rush to try new wings, barely lifts from the paper-thin launching pad.

Today's poetry is to be read, every word delightfully savored. I cower in limelight. But, here, in my column, I feel comfortable.

Into moody blues, on my drive to work, a Willie Nelson CD weeping "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain," spins with an unreeling landscape. Shiny with ice, field rubble and weeds glazed over take on a gray, churning sky's foreboding frown. One could call it desolation, a drab, unappealing death.

At such Minnesota times, it's tempting to dream of hibernating until April. (How would I ever catch up with all the bookwork?) I'd have to miss a season of "Cops," and no day can be whole without the news. Emeril will "kick it up a notch" in my absence. My grandkids might do something spectacular. Forget it!

On another day, the same paths traveled, Willie peps up with "If you've got the money, honey, I've got the time." One day, I drove through the valley on my way to Rushford. A doe and two fawns stood at the edge of the road. As I stopped the van, they seemed to be staring directly into my eyes, one earthly creature to another...and I was smitten!

Earlier, I had spotted an eagle circling low, its shadow no doubt petrifying its foraging prey below. My frigid, crabby disposition had melted. I faced the day head-on, knowing that a tedious engagement with tax forms and a jumble of figures were awaiting. We have a choice - to seek out the beautiful or to wallow in the dismal. Each season has its merit.

Soon it will be "spring fever," that time of year when people break through their cabin fever, acting in an idiotic manner. Before the official opening of the local golf course, someone makes a fool of himself, when his cart gets stuck in mud and his six-pack of beer freezes. Four ! (Good age!)

Obsessed with moving on, the neighbor guy removes all brown Christmas wreaths from every house front. An overzealous dad packs up the kids, tents, and canoe, only to find their favorite campsite still buried in three feet of snow (which he was so anxious for last November, itchy to snowmobile).

It's easy to rush blindly in and out of winter weather. On the last full moon night, I went to close the deck door curtain. I did a double-take. I could feel moonbeams penetrating my paled flesh. I mused, when have I gazed into a star-studded skyway last or made angels in powdery snow?

Mel Ellis shares, "So, why do I love the land? Because for every vice, ten thousand virtues; for every deceit, all the truths; for every ugly second, a million minutes of beauty; for every hurricane, a decade of quiet nights; and for every death, a multitude of births." Mel's final engagement was a peaceful return to the unchangeable land he had been so in awe of.

Listening to Willie's latest CD as I write, the album title "It Always Will Be" reminds one that "what will always be" is beyond human control. "On the road again," it's not about Willie's next concert; it's not about my essays...

...it's "The Land, Always The Land!" Every engagement a standing ovation. 


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