The Cepia Club Blog

The Cepia Club Blog: The Cepia Club believes individual awareness and activism can lead to a peaceful and prosperous world. This blog contains the pertinent literature, both creative and non-fiction, produced by the Cepiaclub Director and its associates.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Sub Terra Chronicle #22—A Brief Autobiography of the Valley Underground, Part I—Introduction

Sub Terra Vita
By Tim Krenz
October 26, 2015

Chronicle #22—A Brief Autobiography of the Valley Underground, Part I—Introduction

sub terra vita, “underground life,” like any homespun tale, starts the legend at home. The story possesses, like the life of an individual person, many highs, some lows, successes and failures, and far too many of the latter to leave out. Amid uncountable laughs, and some of the bitter sadness, the creative biography (not a history) of the Valley's underground takes the good and bad parts, to resolve lessons, and to live well in the memory of all before, and all today, as we live gratefully with experienced courage to our future.

This story uses a triumph of the saga, its context, for a relevance of today. As with saga, it serves its own end, as a piece of the puzzle, of “what happened here, and why?”

The underground in the St. Croix Valley carries parts of the past, some more distant times, some of them ruins and lore, in many harmless stories of childhood adventure, with some harsher stories of adults from different eras. It all happens among hidden relics, from youthful playgrounds to the playing fields of the ageless and aged. Some of the story may occur on the literal surface plane of the world, the street-level and farm-field, or forested-, hill views. It all, on the other hand, relates to sub terra, below the viewpoint of the average living world.

Some underground locations only remain temples in memories, for they do not or may not exist anymore. For some tunnels, cellars, alleyways, holes, crevices, crags, caves, etc., etc., and other places, no location can exist except in the telling of these stories of Valley living. One rule, though, must remain: names, proper and placed in perfect remembrance otherwise, must remain runic and undecipherable, to the code, without the key to decipher, if necessary and proper to do so.

A final requirement of the underground carries into its biography, or even in some cases its creative story, as part-history/part-fiction: That the simple, good story does always end well, whether or not guilty of good cheer, fellowship, and camaraderie. Furthermore, even if it ends in some thing less than completely happy, the stories might carry enough true of the form, of something we can learn. Like all life in context, we aim to make a positive and optimistic outcome, a whole-better good of the result, prevailing to success in later living, in some important way.

The spirit of the story, the intent of this brief, creative-biography, finds the triumph that derives of sharing good meaning, for the alive and the awake. Hopefully, these tales, these acts of life, can show themselves as the things worthwhile telling, sharing somethings about ourselves, about Our Valley, that make it more interesting than we realized. And, hopefully, readers will judge this sub-series of chronicles worthwhile reading and recalling, someday much later.

And where does one begin this story of the Underground in our Valley? Properly, it must begin at the start. . . at the house where I grew up, by the railroad tracks, in our St. Croix Valley town of Osceola. From very young, to now, in several different houses, many different communities, and after traveling a fair stretch of America, I find my life and my experiences in many ways have connected to things and structures below the ground-eye level. In much of my youth, and in adulthood, I find a theme of sorts, and much of that theme sub terra.Unlike Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground, a great work by a great author, my living in the theme might seem mundane, but with interesting highlights. Still, it all goes back to the house where I grew up on Third Avenue, in Osceola, many decades ago. . . .

Sub Terra Vita Chronicle #21—Hallowed These Traditions: Remembering All Saints Eve in Osceola

Sub Terra Vita
By Tim Krenz
October 19, 2015

Chronicle #21—Hallowed These Traditions: Remembering All Saints Eve in Osceola

On that October 31st every year, little cloaked ghosts, goblins, and ghouls wandered in the feckless pursuit of fun, mischief, and above all, candy in the buckets and bags we expectantly carried. On the chilly Autumn nights of the years as a youngster in Osceola, our little gang from the topside of town, around the water tower park above the railroad tracks, reveled in the merriment of costumes, tricks, dares, and youth in pursuit of the ultimate milk chocolates and sour candies.

Even before starting kindergarten, Halloween parties, as now, formed the norm. My cousin on Gerald Street, across the Third Avenue gulch from my house, hosted parties in the family room basement, presented and entertained by our sisters. The neighborhood guys and girls, and the friends from the country, excited in our outfits of clowns, cowboys, angels, and of course, ghosts, Dracula, and Monstersteins. We wowed in the cotton-pulled spider webs and paper cutouts of skeletons, as we carved pumpkins with little skills in arts of variety. Another memorable party, at the houses at the top of Sledding Hill, we really did play such games as pinning tails, whacking pinatas, and bobbing for apples, the latter in real, old, tin wash basins—which people now call antiques. Legends of those wash tubs persist in the age of rubberized storage crates, of course.

Walking the neighborhoods topside and downtown, and overside again, uphill all three ways, incidentally, we wore thin cheap polyester throw-away superhero and villain capes and suits, capped by very flimsy, thin, weak plastic masks of smiling cartoon figures, and all of this accouterments held together by thin and weak stapled rubber-elastic strings. We did not have the super-foam costumes of current Hollywood movies. G.I. outfits came from dads' grab bags of their service days before our birth.

Walking the nights, not walking the dead, but more like kids off the leash, I remember a friend from the old gang, who kept egging the rest of us in a whisper to, “Smash the pumpkin, quick. Knock it off the rail.” He would not do it. Neither did we, as one lady gave us generous handfuls of chocolate bars, while admonishing us, politely, to our shame, “Don't break my pumpkins.” She said it with a smile. Other things, like the Haunted House at the old classic Skelly Gas station, still present at the corner of Cascade Street and Second Avenue, also weigh well and remain worth remembering. All good fun had to end, and then the transition between childhood and graduation came, far too early to usefully party small or live large.

In those odd, pre-teen years, the dad of my best friend, Paul, took Paul and I to the beautiful brick Baptist Church (still standing, on the corner of Third Avenue and Cascade Street) on Halloween night, where we sat in the pews, ate the spreads of snacks, and watched Disney movies. We saw in a succession of years, movies shown on portable screens, illuminated by real film projectors, the classics of good story, not gore and senseless cruelty. Who remembers film projectors may also remember The Cat From Witch Mountain and Escape from Outer Space, or does that not sound familiar to fading memories?

Far from zombies and the allure of romantic vampires, one of the best Halloween stories, Disney's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, recalls more simple context to what I really miss about youth, and what we all miss in adulthood: Things that show and tell a good story, about living in the Valley, at any age, not to lament its passing, but to build on the present so the future feels normal. In that, have a safe and fulfilling Halloween next week. Plan to have spontaneous fun, if all else fails, and share the story of your time doing it, and living here, now, both young and older.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Sub Terra Vita Chronicle #20—Falling in the Image of the Words

Sub Terra Vita
By Tim Krenz
October 12, 2015

Chronicle #20—Falling in the Image of the Words

It fits for a fall in our Valley, to glory and applaud its richness and depth. And how deep and how wealthy our spirits run and prosper by the simple things and natural phenomena of life here, like life elsewhere, where a land living, as a season of dormancy approaches, mixes in the patterns and roots of a tradition and a culture. Here, in our Valley, in our small gullies of private colors or in our centers of gathering, the times change but the time of our age and wonderment stays fundamentally familiar to the place and people who live here.

The colors of nature turn, and the soft-less autumn winds blow the dryer luft of leaf and grass, dust and hay, in a whisp of whispering fall. Above the trees and across the fields, the skies set ground-ward the slight silhouette shadows emanating from cackling sounds of living, seasonal migrations. Forests and waters changed by the of colors of cooler temperature, reflect the artistry of god's tempera done of land and skies. Soon, the waves will churn with cold, until the waves of water freeze into the lines of ice.

Humans and all animals ready themselves for the times and the rituals with the season. We hurrahed our last summertime pleasures, and now see new fields bared from the harvested bounty of earth and labor. The times change soon for everyone to attend other duties, first, and other joys, hobbies and pleasures, which by tradition, we make and reflect new memories.

And in our times, what new memories can we make? By what means of today's living, can we preserve our experience with the honor of enshrining it? Where will the preservation of our culture and our core values, in the context and the meaning of it, find a firm connection between what we see and what we feel? Hence, our modern dilemma, our contradiction in inclusive terms, between things that have permanency and the things that increasingly acquire frivolous use(s).

In our age, however, the “impermanency” of thought, emotion, sight and the speed of reflecting those qualities, from good or foul stimuli, have a norm in our communications. They get too easily rendered and misplaced, and somewhat quickly forgot, in the “digitalish” of electronic snow. We can amaze and wonder, at the power byte or the pixels of a dense numbered geometry in a square of some tool, which few know how to repair with an easy fix, if broken, or even, heavens-to-mercy, “crashed kaput” (!).

Some lucky few, but very few, people can take a pic of some aspect of personal life or nature's sculptures that have true intrinsic meaning to these mortal and moral questions of our lives and for this world. Power(s) to them if they do. Most of us, unfortunately (including myself), cannot. In this, we have a solution.

We have beautiful land, interesting people, some nice neighbors, and the height of the god's autumn gift in our Valley. Honor, in pics, but choose it carefully. More than this, defined by this challenge, write the words that honor that one picture, by even a finding the precise word that defines a thousand pictures, and defy the capture of a thousand emotions that constrain the experience. One feels, in the presence of a pithy note to the world, the presence of memory. Pictures can only talk, but very few words always speak better. Combined, the artistry of life gets a context. And the memory will . . .continue, beyond present meaning.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Sub Terra Vita: Chronicle #19—Unforgetful in Autumn's Fields.

Sub Terra Vita
By Tim Krenz
October 5, 2015

Chronicle #19—Unforgetful in Autumn's Fields.

Like all youth, I came from the impatient generation, growing up in Osceola. From kindergarten through sixth grade, my classmates and I started and finished elementary school in the same building where it remains today. I remember some of the notable highlights, besides learning the basics of the order, orthodoxy, and rigidity of society and our society's underwhelming expectations of young people, like then like now.

Of these various memories of youth, I remember one autumn day, in 4th or 5th grade, when my classmates and I dared to fly afield from the limits of school during recess, and we adventured to the “Holy Land,” to play a pick-up game on the practice field of the high school football team. In our eagerness, our impatience to break new frontiers, we tried the patience of Mrs. W., the playground supervisor. The usual attraction of the fast kid “lipping” off the slow kid, and the slow kid, never quite able to catch the fast kid, had failed in its luster. We had bored ourselves, with our playground surroundings—the pavement, the swings and slides, the monkey bars, and the sick-go-round, early enough in the school year. I felt that limits, boredom, and rules sickened my sense of purpose. I do not remember who said it, but someone suggested, “Hey, let's go up the hill to play football.” Time for fun.

The varsity football practice field, on the plateau of the Eighth Avenue hill, where Oak Court now paves the Olympus of the gridiron titans, sat beyond our playground limits, south of our school, almost halfway to the high school and famous Oakey Park, down the other side of the hill. Of course, since we enjoyed only a short recess, we ran like Olympian sprinters up the “wagon path” between the forests of oaks and maples beginning their run to winter with the fall-bleeding of summer in orangish, yellow-red and brown-drab leaves, and past the rows of evergreen trees, quite young and new. We knew, but not really, that we broke the rules of school.

At the top of the slope, I remember my awe on that obscure dirt-flown grass turf. On the western side of the field, beyond the blocking sleds, stood tall the wooden monolith, the goalpost made from round timbers—two tall posts, with a cross post halfway to their top. We must have chosen teams of 5 or 6 boys apiece. And as most normally happened, I probably got picked last. We could only have played for 5 or no more than 10 minutes, and I don't remember if either team scored, before faintly hearing the recall bell. I remember running as a group, down the slope on that wide path between the trees. I do not remember if we ran there for recess again, but I do think we found ourselves in a little trouble.

Because it no longer exist, except in lore, like the games of Olympus, I dare call it a “forgotten field,” a secret of Osceola's “small values” past, quite unrequited a place in the history of the village. It became nothing more than a former football practice field, and later a playground, covered with houses in the change of time. But somethings do change, good and bad, even the triumphant spirit of impatience.

My classmates and I did something, far beyond the risks of punishment then. We exceeded our own limits of courage, in a way, something not done and not condoned in today's world, and for very good reasons no longer allowed to mischievous, though innocent kids. As I think now, of then, I smile at our defiance, our quest to adventure, to exceed just a little, the limits placed by order, orthodoxy, and rigidity. In 1980, or thereabouts, we could. We lived, we merry miscreants, we gang of rebels, to win our time, on lost playing fields of Osceola.