Travels of the Coyote
The Real American Dream
Turning into the cul de sac off Geneva, the largest and most imposing house belongs to Dan and Linda, my hosts for three weeks in America. The multi-storey building is a testament to an electrical genius and a financially astute woman, along with hard work and the manual assistance of four sons.
Each house stands alone with land around it, land which in the main was open and wild. There was room for mankind and creatures. Or there was when I first visited in 2007. Now more houses are being built, and more land is going under concrete.
A walk along the road can still bring the beautiful sound of robins, crows, geese and somewhere in the distant woodlands woodpeckers. You will often have to walk carefully as Canada Geese stroll across the road or if you are very lucky, even deer.
It is the real American dream. The result of two people with emotionally charged childhoods who, never the less, brought to fruition the idea that an American could begin with little and end with a life that could be looked on with pride.
The garage doors slide open as the car approaches the drive, and inside the home is a statement of two people’s ingenuity and financial choice. Space for work, a space for evening relaxation and eating, a space for cooking, for sleeping and meditating and outside space for the trees, plants and wildlife.
A cat, a dove and a husky provide the energy on the inside of the house. All of whom change the flow of sound and movement. Outside, it is the climate (if you don’t like the weather in Minnesota wait a while it will change) the birds and the critters who make the location such a fascinating place to stay.
Linda takes special care to ensure seed is plentiful for both the birds and the ground feeders. At any time of day, the garden will be alive with all manner of critters seeking to dominate areas of food. At the front of the house, geese, ducks, crows, and deer are often seen taking their turns at the food spread around the feeding tree.
The routine in the house begins early. Linda rising at 5.30 or 6 am depending, I think on Mogli the cat’s movements or perhaps Kook-a-loo the dove’s calling, as much as anything else. Linda takes the time before 8 am to relax before Chloe goes for a two-mile walk (an experience that tightened my abdominals and backside as surely as any fitness regime.)
Chloe is a Husky, and Huskies do not do slow. Linda’s pace is remarkable for a lady with hip problems. The daily routine is a reason she is healthy enough to keep pace with the daily chores she has to complete.
Dan has had a remarkable career as the ‘Go to guy’ for electrical and mechanical work. Pretty much everything that moves or needs technical maintenance has been built, remodelled or serviced by him. Now retired, his day is still one of seeking out projects to do, or parts to prepare for his home or hobbies. The yard has an array of trucks and snowmobiles that are just waiting for him to work on, use at home or the cabin in Wisconsin. Dan is happy in his workshop or garage.
Relaxation is an evening together in their living room around the television or reading a book, with Chloe and Mogli for company throughout the day. It’s a time when even the pets slow down, curl up and relax with the family.
It is a house where a lifetime of hard work has produced a location to be proud of, to be lived in and to look upon as the fruits of decades of careful planning and sheer determination.
In the next blog, I will talk about why I came to Minnesota for the first time…
In my final year at school, the teacher asked us if we wanted ‘pen friends.’ I’d always loved writing and I’d been captivated by the United States for as long as I remember. The school’s invitation was my opportunity to combine the two. It was an opportunity that set in motion actions which still colour my life.
I received a letter from the USA and replied immediately. There was a two-week wait for a reply in those days. On that first morning, when I saw the air mail letter on the mat beneath the letterbox, my heart skipped. I opened the envelope and read the most eloquent and neat piece of writing I’d ever seen. I replied immediately.
Two weeks later, her next letter arrived, and this one sealed my mind completely. The response to my first letter was full of interesting questions about me, but it also contained a photograph of the most beautiful ‘girl’ I had ever seen.
The photo stunned me. The longest, darkest, silken hair I’d ever seen, hanging way below her shoulder blades and curved just above her left eyebrow; parted to disappear below her arm. The head was turned slightly, to look right into my eyes, to accentuate the curve of the cheekbones and the softness of the lips. I held it in my hands for ages, captivated by her beauty. She captivated me.
The angular features of the face, the sculpted nose, and firm chin; the brightness of the eyes and the gentle smile from the mouth were all the features of a beautiful woman. The polo neck, the sleeveless jumper just outlined the delicate lines of the body. Even in black and white she was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. We were four thousand miles apart and connected by just a few pages of writing. She was sixteen, and I was a few months older.
The words in the letter which accompanied the photo are long forgotten now. But I do remember the intrigue I felt at the neat writing and the clarity of the sentences. This lady showed a love of writing to equal mine and intelligence that stood out amongst all of the pupils in my class, myself included. I replied almost immediately. That letter sent, and the world of the internet still twenty years or more away, I sat back and waited for the return letter.
It was the letter that would change my life! A letter that placed Linda in my life forever.
In the next article, I will be writing about the lead up to my first meeting with Linda…my first trip to America.