As a young pup I was left to explore and
to make my way on my own a lot. My
sisters were quite a handful for my
mother to keep track of. They ranged
from age 3 to age 17. They were
toddlers and young women. All
of the problems of youth wrapped
up in one single parent family. My
mother had been recently been left
a widow at age 39 with 6 children.
At times I almost felt like a
leaf in the wind. I was making
lots of decisions alone without
any adult supervision. Many
of my choices were quite poor
looking back in retrospect. I am
actually quite lucky to still be on
this earth with some of
the foolish choices I made.
Not all of my choices were foolish.
It was late fall and trout season
was closed so I was limited in the
things I could do.
When I got bored I thought of
things that could make me money.
I decided to search the path from
the high school to the downtown
area and look in the ditch along
the path and pick up pop bottles.
In those days you could get .02 cents
a bottle and usually
one trip on this path gave me
at least 50 pop bottles. It doesn't
seem much now but a DOLLAR was
a big deal to me back then.
I started on main street and worked
towards the high school. The pop
bottle spelunking was going quite
well and I had to go
home quickly and get a bag
because there were just too
many to carry. The ditch was
a veritable gold mine this day
and I was weighed down heavily
with at least 60 pop bottles on the
end of my journey.
I was already
thinking about what I was going
to spend my HUGE pay day on.
I had the bag hung over my
shoulder and was walking back
to the grocery store to cash in
my treasure and I saw
two high school students
dressed really oddly walking
towards the High School.
Me being the curious type I asked
what was up with the
costumes. The two girls said
they were going to be in a play
called "Brigadoon" at the
High School later that night and
they were heading
there to do their final dress
rehearsal. They asked me if
I wanted to come watch them practice
their lines. I immediately said "NO";
I thought it wasn't manly enough
for me to be interested in. I was also
in hurry to cash in my bottles and
get some candy or a new fishing lure. I met
four other more of the cast on the way
to to the store. They were also walking
to the High School decked out in costume.
These were guys and it really looked like
they were getting into their parts. They
were practicing their lines as they walked.
I was on a mission so I went onward to
the grocery store.
I cashed in my grand
total of 70 pop bottles and asked the
clerk at the store what the play was
about. She gave me the short version
of the play. It was about a magical place.
It was about going back in time to
a simpler way of life. The place only
appeared once every 100 years.
The name of the play was "Brigadoon."
I checked out at the store. I bought
no candy today; I bought a spinner to trout
fish with in Spring. It was getting dark
so I decided to go home for supper.
The house was full with activity and the
table was already set. My sisters were
helping my mom with supper and I was
really dirty from all the ditch diving.
My mom sent me to the bathroom to
shower and put clean clothing on. I
protested but I always listened to my mom.
The rest of the family was already seated
when I returned. I sat down and ate supper.
The topic of the play at the High School
came up and my mother gave me a few
more details about the play. It sounded
really interesting and I thought what
the heck. My mom made me take a
shower and put on clean clothes.
Why waste it, I thought. I had a quarter
left from ditch diving and that is what it
would cost to get in the play. Off I went to the play.
The opening of the play had a couple
hunters wandering in the mist and
they seemed quite lost. The special effects
in 1968 were amazing. They must have
used some dry ice or something similar.
The stage was engulfed in mist. At 11 years
old I internalized much of what I saw
and heard. These hunters became people
in my life. One of them was my Dad and
he was lost and couldn't find his way
home from hunting in northern Wisconsin.
Though my Dad had died about a year
ago while deer hunting, I still had this
weird fantasy that he didn't really die
and that he would appear at home one day.
I was swept away by the story of play from
the moment I saw the lost hunters. I
watched the play on the edge of my seat
the entire time. I was glad that it was
dark in the gym because I was
fighting back tears quite often. I
loved that play and is my all time favorite.
However, I didn't like the ending
of the story, because you would have
to wait another hundred years for
Brigadoon to reappear.
The play touched me because it
talked about simpler times and
going back in to your past. I
remember all of the things my Dad
taught me about the outdoors.
I had my own little Brigadoon every
time I went to the trout stream. I was
where my Dad seemed the happiest
and I could imagine him being with
me on every outing. Every wildflower
he had identified for me and had
shown me the magic of the outdoors.
All of the smells and sounds of the
outdoors take me back.
I can still see him smile when he
showed me the Impatiens balsamina wildflower.
My face must have showed astonishment
and awe when he had me touch that orange
odd looking flower . I can remember him
making sure that I was really close so I
could see the flower and the pod
area exploded and shot seeds raining
down on me. I can not go by a Touch Me Not
flower in the fall without getting close to
it and to see my father's smile each time
I touch those magical flowers.
Many children are bitter and lose
their path when their father or
mother die when they are young.
I chose to embrace and remember
all of the wonders of the outdoors
and see my father in each outing
in the wildflowers and every aspect
of the outdoors in my own and
very private Brigadoon.
I see my father's smile in every