I was born in Bottineau North Dakota, I spent the first few years of my life around Gardena North Dakota. I grew up in San Diego and a place high up in the mountains call Leadville Colorado. But when I was old enough I would come back and spend every summer with my relatives in Gardena. The Gardena congregation closed a few years ago. We have a church in Bottineau, not far away from Gardena is a church at a place called Willow Creek. I remember years ago going to church there as a small boy and being allowed to pump the bellows of the pipe organ. It was a great job for a while, but I got to be pretty hard work. I have many fond memories of the whole area from Bottineau to Kramer to Carberry to Gardena to Willow Creek and Willow City. I had great aunts and uncles who lived in Willow City. The whole area I guess I would call home.
There have been some interesting conversations I’ve seen on Facebook from people who used to live in Willow city. They reminisce about the things they remember. I guess that makes sense because you can’t reminisce about things you don’t remember. One remembers the hiss of the screen door coming in from the garage at the relatives house. Another remembers the meadowlarks. I remember the slam of the screen door, and I remember the morning doves. The cooing they would make in the evening as the sun was going down was plaintive and sad and soothing all at the same time. I remember carrying the creamery cans to go to a well somewhere and pumping water to bring it back home for us to drink. We used the water from the cistern to boil and wash things in, but the drinking water came from 4 or 5 miles away. I remember the meadowlarks too and the way they would sing as we rode our bikes down roads where we very seldom met a car.
My parents used to talk about dances they had at Willow city, and Omemee, Dunseith, and Bottineau , and Souris. My memories are of thunderstorms that would build in the morning until they looked like fortresses in the sky. You could see all of them from the top to the bottom and at night you could stand and look straight up as the lightening danced inside of them like a great a Chinese lantern.
Those evenings were what I remember best. In the days of no air conditioning, my Grandma would come into my room and open the windows. “Get the evening breeze” she would say. The smell of new mown hay would waft in and life was good.
I wrote this song with those memories in mind.