Kent Meyers grew up on a farm near Redwood Falls, Minnesota. He wrote about his boyhood years in The Witness of Combines, a collection of autobiographical essays from which the text of this piece is taken, published by the University of Minnesota Press in 1998. About the chapter entitled “Old Waters” he writes:
I spent the first eighteen years of my life farming. I didn’t just live on the land,
I lived with it, and it was driven into my consciousness—and skin—on a daily
basis. I’ve written about how this influenced me, how it formed a sense of myth
in me, of living in a world larger than the present. I grew up with a sense of big
land, big waters, and great age--this latter coming primarily…from my awareness
of the glaciers that gouged the upper Midwest thousands of years ago.
This piece was written as part of the Minnesota Voices project of the American Composers Forum in celebration of the state’s sesquicentenniel in 2008.
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I’ve been formed by glacier…formed by a land molded by the freezing and thawing of water. I’ve rafted, as a child, on a lake formed of ice melt, waving to my father as I pushed away from him under a gray, isolating sky…I have muscles in my legs and shoulders that formed in response to picking up glacial rocks, and my imagination has exercised itself on the thought of ice lying deep on the land.
…The landscape of the northern prairie, which seems so passive, changeless, lacking in surprise, is in fact a place of power and mystery to those who know its story and who carry that story on, a core of coolness in their hearts as they stoop in the sun to a rock, lift it off the earth and hold it, smelling a strange, musty scent deeper than earth as the sky revolves above them and from the north a cool breeze springs.