Monday, November 15, 2004

Family Folklore

"You can tell a lot about a man's character by his woodpile." - Grandpa Robert

The woodpile philosophy is one of many in a collection of ideas and notions in my family. One would be hard-pressed to find many people with woodpiles, but where my family is from, this is a tradition that is kept alive no longer by necessity, but rather by ritual. My Uncle Lee's woodpile is exceptional this fall (see picture). These fall traditions are the core to my father's side of the family in a part of the world that many do not have the priviledge to know.

A reverence for the past and the faithful acceptance of the present creates an environment in northern Minnesota where little changes and even fewer people are blessed to experience it. With each year, the logs are cut and placed in a pile. The pile is placed with careful thought and exactness. As the leaves turn orange and brown with a speed that if one blinked they would miss it, men and women prepare to wear their own blaze orange in hopes of catching that year’s big story. A yarn that will be rewoven every following year as family and friends return for the hunt. The patience and calmness that the people of this community exhibit during hunting season impresses the outsiders to the point where they take their two weeks of vacation to be a part of the hunt.

A person has to have this reverence for nature in order to remain in a hunting stand for hours without speaking to the person next to you. To watch an open field, waiting for the deer to cross your path. One might say that it is cruel to hunt deer. However, I have never known people more humane and compassionate to animals than these hunters in my family. They hunt because of the tradition. They hunt because of the way it binds our family together once a year. They hunt because they appreciate the deer and all that it has brought to our family over the years. More than just meat and skin, but an almost family folklore each autumn.

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