Church Mouse: Piercing the Ancestral Veil | Columns


So there we were, driving along the scenic roads of Pierce County when I did a double take. I thought, “hang gliding?” Not really. But definitely a hovering yellow helicopter – looked like maybe lowering a guy onto a wire pole. Surprising.

My line of sight was quickly obscured. (However, the UFO ideas continued, especially after passing through Elmwood.)

So new topic, a moment later I said “I really want to go to this library someday” – mostly just to look around. Maybe they even have a hidden pigeon too, like some shelves have elsewhere. It wouldn’t be as convenient to return a book; I like how you can get one at Cannon Falls and return it at Red Wing and vice versa. This still surprises me a bit.

With so much corn harvested, we were noticing more small rural cemeteries. This one in Goodhue County caught my eye more than once. My husband and I recently stopped to admire it more, mostly just around the edges.

Some custom headstones are waiting for an end date. There is also a very old monument towards the back with an imposing Washington Monument-esque design. It has elegant edges, a sharp point and a name corresponding to the local commune. I’ve always loved the word Featherstone. It is noted on a county website that church services were held at the home of an early settler with that surname in the 1850s.

I remember being in a rural church for the past decade and briefly visiting a nice woman by that name. She suggested having a coffee. I was interested but unavailable.

While checking social media to confirm a friend’s birthday, I saw a friend suggestion for someone with that last name. Interesting. A different person I think, but I’m not sure. I will have to “confirm” to find out more.

It’s hard to make out the word behind the tall grass, but “HOPE” is there. I think I’ve heard that hope isn’t just wishful thinking – it takes discipline and determination to be realized. I used to write this word on the back of tests in school…probably pop quizzes as well as those I had done diligent preparation for.

After looking at this sign, I tried to study some more concrete symbols. I wonder if part of the county building’s art deco design depicts ears of corn. And what are those berries above the blue doors of the church: the holly, the bilberry?

A childhood friend and I used to “paint” on stones at the base of our barn. Water from nearby reservoir was handy. I can imagine we used corn cobs to design feathers or vice versa.

The resident pigeons could be constantly found high up in the barn. A letter written by Dad in the 1950s refers to a carrier pigeon that went off the rails and showed up at the farm. As in this situation and in other situations, sometimes you have to look up, wonder and wait for further instructions from afar.

Kate Josephson worked as a church secretary at Red Wing. She seeks religious experiences wherever she goes.


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