Life Arts

Hope "Stands Watch Until the Morning"

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Minnesota Morning: May 23, 2008

When Rob Kall returned to his desk at OEN this week, he wrote, “The news is remarkably similar to what I left-- Chinese earthquake, tornado victims, Hillary pushing for Florida and Michigan votes… and now the news that McCain repudiated Hagee's support. First he embraced him and then he repudiated him. Again, word that Rove has been subpoenaed and that he's refused to respond.”

Disaster results from betrayals by humanity and nature.

Politics aside, our Minnesota north country has had an especially brutal winter and late spring. People here, who endure brutal winters year after year, feel betrayed. Songbirds died by the thousands as freak blizzards blanketed the state well into April. As one friend put it too me, “There was something terribly wrong about finding beautiful robins dead in the snow.”

People opened their garages to finches, robins, blue birds and warblers that stood no chance against the cold and lack of food.

This writer has a small bully pulpit from which to champion intelligent music and art as a tonic.

Roots singer/songwriter Caroline Herring writes eloquently about the uncertainty of life and human nature on “Magnolias” from Wellspring (Blue Corn 2003), her equally excellent predecessor to the critically acclaimed Lantana (Signature Sounds 2008). Herring suggests that the true of heart tackle the challenges facing heart and mind anyway; running headlong in the maelstrom.

“That quaking in my heart’s too deep for words-- it tremored and it trembled and it ached,” Herring sings in her rich, vibrating alto.

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“The future’s lookin’ stormy here before us; there are wars, calamities and tribulations.

"We’ll hatchet down the windows if we have to, and stand the watch together ‘til the morning.”

Perhaps society is suffering from varying degrees of post traumatic stress syndrome. Psychologists say one way to overcome the flashbacks of fear and dread is to “live in the moment,” and when the fears and aches attack, when earth and heart tremor and calamities surround us, find one beautiful thing in our collective field of vision to focus on.

There is a beautiful moment in the chilly northwoods of Minnesota this morning. Three new tiny specks of life made a glorious appearance. For now, they are nestled in the boughs and warm embrace of a young spruce tree. Their mom will stand watch until the time they fledge and finally take full flight in July. Hopefully, they will escape the calamities and tribulations that lie before them. For now, they are trembling whenever mom leaves the nest. I have hope they will make it.

If a fragile robin can face the challenge, we writers who have sword arms need to exercise them-- standing watch together.

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Georgianne Nienaber is an investigative environmental and political writer. She lives in rural northern Minnesota, New Orleans and South Florida. Her articles have appeared in The Society of Professional Journalists' Online Quill (more...)

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