Rachael spent the week of July 29th - August 4th, 2018 with us, engaged in a deeply personal exercise of writing her way "home." At her Community Workshop, Rachael guided us through a writing prompt called a "Memory Index." It starts like this: "For each letter of the alphabet list at least one term, place name, or person's name that begins with that letter. Follow each with a paragraph of narrative associations. Include setting, atmosphere, sensory details, characters, dialogue, etc. as is appropriate. You may think of this either as an essay itself, or a way to brainstorm--to find the stories in our own lives, or the questions we're currently struggling with." She used this format to create a rich community index of Houston Co. for her post-residency reflection.
Airbnb: Before I came to Crystal Creek, I scoped it out cabin on Airbnb: all summer I dreamed of hand-hewn beams and a cabin with a record player in the woods, time to write, roads to wander on.
Architecture >> My first visit to Houston County was for a workshop on rural architecture. We gathered in the oldest house in Houston to draw, to notice, and to wonder: What do we want from our buildings?
What shape should home take?
Barista's >> The coffee shop in Houston where I drank smoothies and chatted with strangers: chalkboard menu, bright blue bathroom door, and peach pie served on ceramic plates.
Black Hammer (See “Stone Lady”)
Ervin Barth’s Tree >> Largest pin oak in Minnesota:
centerpiece of Evergreen cemetery in Caledonia: branches extending
straight spokes, shadowing ground,
a single old growth near mowed highway shoulder,
a guardian of lives lived, days gone by.
Fossils >> Stones that point at the cephalopods
who used to live here: horn-shaped midwestern squids who once swam in a sea that covered southern Minnesota.
Geode >> A cavern of crystals hidden inside a rock.
One of the first delights of my residency: time on the porch
and the toddler who showed me the treasure she found on the bluff behind her parents’ home.
Mississippi >> The coast: a river big enough to hold harbors, strong enough to braid valleys up and down the Midwest: lush green floodplains and bluffs that rise like mountains.
(Houston) Nature Center >> Where I learned about mammoths, rattlesnakes, raptor feet, and the shallow sea that covered Southeast Minnesota
Quiet >> In the summer, the midwest hums with construction, with cicadas, the chirps of katydids, the howls of coyotes.
So I find quiet in the exhaustion that comes after travel, in the relief of returning.
Sweet 16 >> The farm where I walked with Peter almost a month after my residency finished. I came back to Houston County felt at home:
A path lined with goldenrod and red clover, a farm beside the highway, and the Peter and me walking together: pointing out familiar plants--
the things that feed us:
hearts and bellies.
Thank-you >> The words that I’m left with.
Thank-you Erin for believing in my work, for putting my face on posters and my story in the paper, for promoting my events and letting me bring people together to talk about place and poetry.
Thank-you Houston County for taking me in, for showing me your coffee shops and owl center, your giant pin oak tree and your stone lady.
Thank-you roots and rivers, winding roads, and hidden cemeteries,
for letting me drift in, drift back, drift here to look for home.
*all photos by Rachael Button, unless otherwise noted