And where are you from?

A friend of mine emailed me this morning to report that you can walk stone by slippery stone across the rocks that cross the Mississippi at its source, Lake Itasca, and she sends a photo, to prove it.  The Great River is about 15 trickling feet across at its source, and less than a foot deep.  Thoreau saw it several miles downstream in Red Wing, Minn., the cheese and wheat capitol of the world in the 1930s. Grain would flow down to St Louis and New Orleans and the town was rich as can be.  Later it had an Opera House, still operative as a movie theater.  Earlier, Thoreau traveled with John to find the headwaters of the Merrimack in the ice-melt on Mt Washington.  My friend traced Thoreau’s every train stop on his travel to Minnesota for health in his last months where he saw a tribal gathering several miles west of Red Wing.  He sought those original dwellers who flourished before the Europeans, sought them in their implements and languages and ways of life, much as he sought original words and thoughts in the most ancient of scriptures.   Our births are beclouded in words and peoples and places undiscovered, yet we never cease groping.  Hannah Arendt corrected Heidegger: We are beings toward birth.  And she privileged gratitude over anxiety.

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