Out there, on other threads, on other blogs, on the news and cable, in the streets, there’s plenty of talk about the new Arizona “show your papers” law. Hard to tune it all out..
But this morning I’m going to try—with a purpose—with a little help from you.
Migrant means a whole lot of things to me. Migration. Immigration. Immigrant.
My grandparents were immigrants; Grandpa, dodging his homeland’s draft to come to Dakota Territory and homestead. Grandma, a teenager leaving behind most of her family, paying her passage by contracting as an indentured servant in the New Country. We all have stories of immigration.
Growing up, I remember riding past fields where migrants hoed sugar beets dawn to dusk in the fields. Whole families toiling in the sun’s heat. They don’t do that around here much any more. Now, there are turkeys to gut and pluck. Did they have papers? Do they have papers? Did they just come North from Southern states? Or cross an undocumented border?
Why do you care, Prairie? This is somebody else’s problem. Arizona’s a long way away. Except that it isn’t. Huge chunks of our Upper Midwest population migrate down there every winter, escaping the cold and snow.
And now, we’re seeing the strong wave of migration of pickup trucks with license plates from the south to build pipelines and roust about our Bakken oil shale.
Last weekend, a friend and I attended the FM Symphony’s performance of “Ellis Island: The Dream of America.” Retelling the stories of immigrants from Poland, Greece, Hungary, Italy…Ireland.
For so many of our ancestors who came here with a dream, there were stories of the hardships, too. But for today, I’m contemplating the dream. Because every person toiling now, climbing over fences, paying smugglers for passage, they have a dream, too.
Because it burns in all of us, it’s imprinted on our DNA.
It’s in the turn of our head upward when the great V’s of geese pass over. It’s in hearing the tremolo of the loon’s cry echoing across the lake to signal his spring return. It’s in the sight of a roadside pond a-swarm with trumpeter swans while driving down the spine of Minnesota to meet-up with old friends.
It’s in the worry that the monarch butterflies may not arrive at all this season. They’ve been sparser and sparser the last few years. And their absence will be our loss.
Spring is a time to be mindful of migration. For people, for nature, for the course of the planet. Migration is metaphor, but it is also legalities. And it is legacy.
So this Saturday after Earth Day, on this planet where we are all migrants, after all:
What is your story of migration? How did you get “here”? And what place beckons you?
Oh, and what migration signs have you been noticing this spring?
Pull up a chair…set your inner migrant free, and share…and perhaps one small group can get people thinking about the common dream we share, instead of the borders and biases which divide us. Margaret Mead said it could be so….