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Fill ‘er up?” With a nod from me, the kid set gas a-flowing into the car and busied himself washing the windshield and chattering about his adventures guiding on the Brule River. “I guess you know Presidents have fished the Brule, well I ‘m privy to all the best fishin’ holes ‘round Cedar Island where Coolidge had his Summer White House.” He paused to make eye contact now, for he knew I taught school and wanted to make a point. “There’s them that says I’m wastin’ my life away and should get an education and make something of myself.” He chuckled and polished the rear view mirror as he continued. “Over the weekend, I guided for this high powered, rich, up-tight CEO of 3M and he told me that, and here’s what I said. Me, I says, Well, I’ve been in school all my life— Wisconsin’s School of the Wild. Sure I could go in debt and sit at a desk 8 years or more, get fancy paper degrees and a stressful job. Maybe someday if I worked hard and saved my money, maybe I could get away for a fishing weekend on the famous Brule River. But me, I get to go everyday I want to. I’m the smartest, best learned son of a gun you’ll ever meet.” He did a little dance with the squeegee as a partner and waved me off with his chamois made of an old T shirt.
That night I wrote a poem about it.
I have walked the halls of higher education,
Where my rainbow of mysteries overturned.
And though canned-life got spoon-fed,
Numbers spun around my head,
I felt empty, restless, longing and unlearned
Finding raw boundless wisdom dwells in nature
Enroll my soul for schooling in the Wild
Where choices teach common sense
Untamed, they garner consequence
And I learn awesome wonder like a child
See the shimmer, hear the babble of the riffle
Feel the surge sliding swiftly in a run
Read the pool darkly deep
Sleuth the secrets rivers keep
Breathe in perfumed eons flavored by the sun.
Talk with God strolling misty on a moonbeam
Consult ancients in a fire on the beach
Catch the thunder-lightning show
Let the vastness bring me low
So I know how high and wide my mind can reach.
To which Bill (my partner) gave me this feedback:
“You’re a poet and don’t know it, but your teeth show it! They are long-fellows.”
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