Many Waters is a collection of stories from writers of the Greater North Woods of Wisconsin. It is a wild place where bears, wolves, coyotes, foxes, and where many more species live. Thousands of lakes draw the seeker to its quiet shores. Traditional Indigenous wild rice grows in the water. The area is known as Indian Country.
I write about the book as a former member of the St. Croix Writers Group. Once a week, the writers meet at the Community Center in Solon Springs. Because it is isolated, many members traveled to get there. I traveled 35 miles each way to attend the group. The writers are a kindred lot.
Reading the book, I remember writers who have walked on. Kay Karras was an elder, a Poet Laureate, and had a sense of uncanny humor. Weekly she drove to Spooner to visit her sister in the nursing home. That is a 55-mile trip each way. Minong, a village of 516 people, was about halfway. Kay would occasionally stop for short visit and to get her second wind. I loved the impromptu visits.
Kay invited me to her historical homestead on Karras Road. We visited her beloved roses. She showed me her favorite pine tree, along a walking path, that inspired her to write many stories. Kay showed me the native Lupine and host plant for the Karner Blue butterfly that grew near a pine row. She also taught me where Valerian grew near clear running water. Kay, I remember you in your stories especially Ghost Writers in the Sky.
When I read There is No Cat Like Your First Cat, I can hear Jo Stewart’s voice. Her laughter was contagious. That is how happy her spirit was. Every Christmas season, the St. Croix Writers went to Jo’s home for a Christmas party. Writers shared short works. We gathered in gladness, and oh, I do remember shy outdoor cats at the entranceway where Jo fed the babes she so loved. We miss you, Kay.
Agnes Kennard sent me a note to ask me to submit writing for the project. I am thrilled she thought to do so. The St. Croix writers would occasionally visit Agnes’s home. An artist lives here. Agnes gave me a cement block with glass pieces of a turtle that she made set in the cement. I loved it. It once proudly stood at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake, Wisconsin.
Agnes has been writing most of her life as a way of communication. Her stories have traveled near and far. She is a creative writer, as can be read in Coffee and Common Ground. As a thoughtful writer, Ages wrote, I am Buffalo. It reminds me of humanity now and Climate Change. As the Buffalo went, so shall the family of man. My heart feels that pain.
I wish I could write about every writer I knew. Each was unique, caring, and a giver of gifts. The gift was them. I still communicate with some of the writers on Facebook. Do read the stories. I am still reading the book. I enjoy waking up and reading segments from the past. Some writers are new to me, and I welcome them to St. Croix Writers. May we all walk with them as we read Many Waters.
Amazon notes, Many Waters brings voices from Wisconsin’s Northwoods together in this cross-genre collection of stories, poems, essays, and long-form excerpts. Personality and style converge in a shared love of the region and through works that range from the humorous to the historical, from the everyday to the fantastic. Readers are sure to find pieces that resonate in this excellent compilation.
I was a former student and graduate of Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College. Patrick Shilds, former professor of Creative Writing, invited the St. Croix Writers to the college to present a program for the writing students. The Writers who attended: Pat Shields, Jo Stewart, Agnest Kennard, Mary Ellen Ryall, Kay Karras, and two others I can’t identify.