I heard crickets singing last night and the soft hoot of an owl. Both are lovely sounds but they depressed me. Crickets, to me, signal the end of summer and I adore the delights of warmer weather. Hooting owls also sound like fall to me. It feels as though summer is racing by and I’ve just started to enjoy it, so I’m feeling cheated somehow and slightly anxious about the packed schedule of events that loom this fall. One of those events is in Ely, Minnesota and while doing some prep for it, I ran across a poignant and prescient piece of advice from a famous Minnesotan who loved the Ely area.
Sigurd Olson Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt. Courtesy Listening Point Foundation
Noted naturalist Sigurd Olson did some of his best writing in a tiny rustic cabin on Burntside Lake near Ely. He called it Listening Point. He adored it and the beauty of the Minnesota woods that surround it. The last thing he ever wrote remains in an old manual typewriter in that little cabin.
Sigurd Olson typed those words on a January afternoon in 1982. Later that day, he strapped on snowshoes for a walk and was found dead of a heart attack in his beloved woods. I don’t know if Sig had a premonition about his death, but I’m intrigued and oddly heartened by viewing what we’re unsure of, what we worry about as being an adventure.
In that context, I’m looking forward to what will be a new adventure this fall as we revisit our Convenings communities for a series of events we are calling The reConvenings. The first one is September 14, 2017,in Ely. The Convenings was officially launched in Ely November of 2016 and the re-Convening is a way to check in with residents to see how people have taken the message to live fully now and at the end of life as their own.
Have people started thinking about what gives their lives meaning now and how that may or may not change toward the end of life? How many folks in Ely have started having important but admittedly difficult conversations with family and friends about what kind of care they want at the end of life and who they’d like to speak for them if they can’t speak for themselves? We’re curious to know whether people have filled out advance care directives or have been trained to help others put their wishes to paper.
We’re talking to artists in Ely to help us craft this reConvening event because we feel artists have a unique lens on life. They challenge us to feel and to look at our common humanity in creative ways and who knows, maybe all of us together can launch a New Adventure in Sigurd Olson’s beautiful backyard!