A Vacation of Rivers, Trees and My Mama’s Advice

August 3, 2021

Paddle boats on the Mississippi

The River

Have my vacation hat – ready to travel!

What started out as a vacation to see virgin forests, has morphed into the beginning of a weaving path with the Mississippi. For the second summer my family vacation has taken me to new destinations.

First, the paddle boats which I believe are no longer paddle boats. At least the paddle wheels are no longer functional. But they are sweet in their nostalgia. We boarded a dinner cruise which paraded south on the Mississippi from Saint Paul.

Details of Paddleboats

Weather could have made it miserable but the evening was one of those perfect summer respites in which the sunset paints the sky with tones of honey. It is sweet. And as we trickle down and up the river, we exchange waves with other boaters and those who begin their summer night parties along the banks. Jolly spirits they are with campfires lit.

Saint Paul

The next day we headed north. As I drive, I criss-cross with the Mississippi. Here in northern Minnesota, the mighty river quiets into a creek. I have heard that nearby, there is a bit of rapids before it turns back to its origin, Lake Itasca. I have yet to see either. I am rather smitten this summer with the working river whose banks are overflowing with history, industry and art.

And I keep driving..

The Mississippi River, north

The Sharpest Sword

From my mother comes timely advice of “the hotter the fire, the sharper the sword.” Or, later she refined it as “the hottest fires make the sharpest swords.” I’m not sure which is more applicable or truer. I always wonder at her timing. My mother, with her superior sense of motherly timing, had advice prepared for me. How does she always seem to have the perfect piece of advice for me?

My vacation spans eight days. Eight days! Eight days to leave work for awhile. I had never felt so strongly the need to recharge. Last year’s vacation has emboldened me to visit new places or combine the familiar with unfamiliar.

It’s time to stretch my soul.

Part of vacation is almost always a return to swimming. Therefore, I swam. Well, first I practically boiled myself in the hot tub. Then I swam. I’m embarrassed to reveal even to myself that it’s been months – maybe even a year since I last swam.

One night I stayed at a franchise hotel much like the one in the town where I live. As I swam back and forth, I remarked to myself that the specifications must follow the franchise. As I swam back and forth, I get lost in the details of construction and specifications.

I paused. As I hung into the ledge, I replayed sad memories of the last time I was in a pool like that one. And I kept replaying that memory for the next ten minutes. I swam. And I swam.

I paused again on the side of the pool, just like the one at home. In my mind I still could remember the sadness. But I posed one more question to myself. “Why?”

“I want good memories.”

“I want to build good memories. Why do I have bad memories?’”

“Everyone has bad memories. Everyone has been through something.”

“I don’t wish those bad memories away. No. No!”

“But I am going to give myself some good memories, even if I am the only one who understands them. They might be my memories alone. They might be…”

“The good Lord willing, I am going to make good memories.”

And I think I want to tear myself up. Or perhaps it’s better stated that I want to ‘get shredded.’ I mean, after all, I need an appropriate container for all these good memories!

Where to start? Mm, I think right now is perfect. Right now, right here.

Determined. And swimming.

And heeding the Wise One’s advice, “the sharpest sword is forged from the hottest flame.”

Thank you, Mama, oh Wise One.

Lots of love, Love.


Fort Snelling

ps. And I haven’t even told you about the trees yet! Next time…

The Garden of the Three Sisters, Fort Snelling

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