Radio Mornings

It took five tries before I settled on a direction for today’s post. Between angst over the state of the world and boredom with what has become a daily pandemic routine for the past two years, writing does not flow. Little feels important enough to discuss here, like wasted breath. But on Thursday morning, with the house to myself, I finally found something to riff on. I have my mother to thank for it. Would she have like being called a crone in her later years? I wonder. Anyway, this post is partly her fault. 

————————————————-

It’s early Thursday morning. My partner Mick has gone to campus to give what will be one of his last lectures before retirement. I have the house to myself. I put on the softest lights in the kitchen, turn on the local jazz radio station (KBEM-FM aka Jazz 88), grind coffee beans, boil water. This particular way of beginning my day makes me think of my mother, her habit of getting morning coffee going and turning on WCCO 8-3-0, a Twin Cities AM radio station on the air since the 1920s. When I was a kid, it was THE radio station to tune in to for everything: weather, sports, news, really bad jokes, and music that parents listened to. It was the voice of assurance and accuracy during tornado warnings and blizzards. I still remember those morning DJs, Boone and Erickson. The sound of the radio took its place every morning alongside the sounds of coffee sloshed into waiting cups, toast popping up from the toaster, cereal hitting the bowl.

I haven’t listened to WCCO radio since the 1970s. Maybe the 1980s – I still tuned in when there was a tornado warning during my young adult years, certain that would save my life. As I wrote this piece, I checked online to see if WCCO 8-3-0 is still on the air. It is, owned now by Audacy, Inc. I have no desire to tune in to see what it’s like today. I’m happy with Jazz 88, a listener-supported FM radio station owned by the Minneapolis Public Schools. In the early mornings, the programming is full of good jazz interspersed with BBC news segments, traffic reports, and school news. Every once in a while, I hear a student announcer read a script, voice uncertain at the beginning. Most evening programming showcases different forms of music – R&B, blues, funk, old jazz standards, local musicians, the occasional school concert. The local flavor of this station makes me feel like there’s a chair for the community here in my living room. It goes with the sound of my fingers hitting my laptop keyboard.

I believe that community connection is what my mom felt every morning when she switched on our radio. There was a sense that whatever we were going through, we had company. 

I’ve been thinking about connection a lot lately. Thinking about company. In this pandemic, connection has been strained, stretched, sometimes broken. The huge rift over how to manage things isn’t healing. Settling into our third year of pandemic constraints could have showcased how well we’ve learned to mitigate virus transmission and care for each other, but that isn’t what is happening. There’s so much anger, false information, failure to communicate well. Connections everywhere have snapped, some for now and some forever. Good company is hard to come by.

Every time I chafe at pandemic constraints, I think of our three-month-old granddaughter, Maeve. The desire to protect her is urgent, undeniable. It is for her that we maintain our little community of vaccinated family and friends, for her that we must figure out how to keep the world from imploding in the face of what the pandemic has laid bare. We must nurture our human connections, community, and proven healthy practices that we’ve spent generations developing. Our care and caution right now is the very least we can do to take care of our children and ourselves. 

The jazz station has been playing this whole time I’ve been writing; I just heard the announcer talk about 50 years of KBEM. I’m so grateful for this little bit of company. In my head, I hear my mom telling me to wash my hands, come to the table, Boone and Erickson laughing on the radio in the background. I’m glad Mom passed her radio habit to me, glad I can still find these kinds of voices, music, and stories with an easy switching on of our stereo, a soundtrack that connects me to so many others in the Minneapolis area. This is one of the habits that has pulled me through this weird and awful time. Mom’s handwashing rule was a pretty good habit, too, it turns out.

Let’s hope that in another 50 years, Maeve will have the chance to talk about how she has found connection to our community, how she has found the voices that guide her wherever they may be. She won’t remember a time before COVID, but she’ll remember that her family did everything they could to offer her a healthy life even when a sizable portion of the country failed to follow the science. We even played a little music along the way. 

Thanks for the nudge, Mom.

—————————–

A little something extra

A poem by David Budbill:

This Morning

Oh, this life,
the now,
this morning,

which I
can turn
into forever

by simply 
loving
what is here,

is gone
by noon.

From Happy Life by David Budbill, Copper Canyon Press, 2011.

Happy New Year! One Minnesota Crone Begins.

Hello! Today is the beginning of One Minnesota Crone, a new blog aimed at women over 50 and anyone else who cares to come along for the ride.

I’m excited to begin posting here at One Minnesota Crone and say goodbye to One Minnesota Writer, the blog I ran for over a decade. If you’ve already read my Welcome page on this site, you know that this change was a long time coming.

And what will One Minnesota Crone offer you?

One Minnesota Crone will offer you space to celebrate the creativity that unfolds in so many of us when we are older. Having lived on this earth for a long time allows for perspective. It allows for the understanding that points of view can change, more than one path can be traveled, new trails can be blazed. Identities can shift. We can choose to have fun while still contributing to this world.

Expect to see posts once every week or two. One Minnesota Crone is a refuge when our angry and on-fire world is too much. Come here for calm. For joy. For ideas. Sometimes I’ll share photos of whatever brings me joy, like learning to pour paint and make something beautiful, poetry or novels that beg to be read, quiet places that soothe everything. Sometimes I’ll share what I’m cooking, because cooking is its own zen space in my house. Sometimes I’ll share a gorgeous hike that will make your feet itch to hit the trail. There are so many ways to find a refuge.

And I’m not the only one with things to share. If you identify as a woman over 50 and you would like to share something here – your artwork, your published work, something you think is important for this community – contact me. Let’s see what we can work out.

Which, of course, leads me to what I can share with you today. As we close out 2021, I think winter peace is the ideal thing. I love taking winter photos because the light is so lovely, so fragile in Minnesota in the winter. Sometimes photographing in snowy conditions is challenging: keeping the camera battery warm enough, keeping my fingers warm enough to grasp the camera, finding the correct shutter speed to accommodate how much light the snow reflects. But the shadows on the snow, the way the light falls through bare trees, and how little birds flit around in the slumbering garden is a draw that I find irresistible. And sun reflecting on frozen lakes can be stunning.

So, here you go. Some wintery images. Some moments of peace.

I also wouldn’t be me if I didn’t add a winter poem that seems fitting with these photos and this first post at One Minnesota Crone. Here are the words of Mary Oliver from the Poetry Foundation’s website, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/41662/white-eyes.

White-Eyes

BY MARY OLIVER

In winter 
    all the singing is in 
         the tops of the trees 
             where the wind-bird 

with its white eyes 
    shoves and pushes 
         among the branches. 
             Like any of us 

he wants to go to sleep, 
    but he’s restless— 
         he has an idea, 
             and slowly it unfolds 

from under his beating wings 
    as long as he stays awake. 
         But his big, round music, after all, 
             is too breathy to last. 

So, it’s over. 
    In the pine-crown 
         he makes his nest, 
             he’s done all he can. 

I don’t know the name of this bird, 
    I only imagine his glittering beak 
         tucked in a white wing 
             while the clouds— 

which he has summoned 
    from the north— 
         which he has taught 
             to be mild, and silent— 

thicken, and begin to fall 
    into the world below 
         like stars, or the feathers 
               of some unimaginable bird 

that loves us, 
    that is asleep now, and silent— 
         that has turned itself 
             into snow.

Source: Poetry (Poetry Foundation, 2002)

Welcome to One Minnesota Crone. I hope I see you here again soon and Happy New Year.

Photos taken near the Old Cedar Avenue Bridge and Long Meadow Lake, Bloomington, Minnesota, by kcmickelson, 2021.