Dreams Not Forgotten

Dreams Not Forgotten

by Will Kalinke

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781426959837
Publisher: Trafford Publishing
Publication date: 03/02/2011
Pages: 348
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.78(d)

Read an Excerpt

DREAMS not FORGOTTEN

Hope for a Better Tomorrow
By Will Kalinke

Trafford Publishing

Copyright © 2011 Will Kalinke
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4269-5983-7


Chapter One

A PROMISE MADE

All, who knew Bill, knew him only partially, each from their limited perspectives. Few knew him as I did. That includes family, friends, professionals, and neighbors. Even I admit to only partial knowledge of Bill, however great or complete, compared to that of my knowledge of many other people. However, then, does anyone ever truly know another person, especially one so multifaceted like Bill. He's like a pearl emerging from irritating grit, or a buffed polished diamond, formed under immense pressure, getting ever brighter. The brilliance of pearl and diamond is unending, as the buffing or aging process continues.

The Bill I knew, and still know, had a colorful story with many facets like a cut diamond, each cut shedding its own unique ray of character, of personality, of being. His story moves in bits and pieces, backward and forward as a train adding cargo, up one track, down another, reversing to another spur to add or drop cargo. Suddenly, a spurt repeats, followed by hesitation or reversal a number of times, as though seeking the right path, until zooming down the tracks to its apparent final destination, only to ....

Join me as I take you on some of those rough 'spurts' in his life – backward and forward, this way, and that way – searching for direction throughout a mysterious endless maze, seemingly without a beginning or ending, opening or closure. The story I pieced together, or extrapolated, went something like the following:

'Tweet - tweet. Rib it - rib it. Tip it - tip it. Burp – burp. Cheep cheep.'

Bill, fifteen at the time, lay on his back with his eyes closed, as he listened to the little creatures of the woods. He was lying up on a weathered outcropping of large, grey, slightly moss-covered, rocks, in a clearing surrounded by a mix of white pine, oak, sugar maple, white birch, quaking aspen, sturdy basswood, smaller ash, stately elm, powerful spruce, balsam fir, fine-needled hemlock, and other trees and shrubs of the forest near his home.

"Hello, my little friends. Sing more of your music. I love you. Come on over." Bill coaxed the birds, squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, and other creatures of the forest. Grey squirrels were the first to move in closer and closer with a series of hops and flagging tails as Bill sat up with an outstretched hand. They kept edging closer in rapid spurts, until they hopped on his shoulder and worked their way down, inches at a time, to the poised outstretched hand holding a peanut in its shell, or a cracker crumb.

Low growing ground cover, thick green moss, rotting logs, elderberry bushes, hazelnut shrubs, and blackberry growth surrounded the rocks in the clearing, where a small log house, long since rotted and returned to nature, once stood. Over the years, since his mother first took him here, Bill had dug around and found what must have been a long forgotten household garbage dump and an outdoor fire pit, possibly near the front door of the fallen house, or cabin, to keep howling wolves or coyotes at bay with logs burning in the pit day and night.

"Oh, wow! I wonder who left these here. I wonder what the people were like. I wonder if there was anyone like me." Bill would talk to the creatures half expecting an answer. The way little friends would scamper up to him, or tilt their heads, like an inquisitive German shepherd guard dog, just maybe, they understood from the tone of his voice. Theirs was emotional communication from deep down within, reactions, utterances, and tones that required no words.

He dug up old medicine-man types of bottles, the old brownish and greenish ones with bubbles in the glass, some early metal knives bent with age and abuse, twisted spoons, bent forks, hammered tin plates, tin drinking cups with soldered handles, big tarnished ladles, large serving spoons, and frying pans and pots dented with much use over an open fire. The smaller bottles with thick glass were in extremely good condition, especially considering the length of time they survived under fallen leaves, twigs, and household garbage.

Small bottles made with thick glass survived the many decades. Bill restored many of them to a like-new sparkling clean condition. Layers of rotten leaves and moss had provided a safety cushion. These bottles were good collectors' items for which Bill often received a dollar or two, not knowing that he could well have collected ten, twenty or more. Some bottle collectors liked particular dates, brands, sizes, colors, or bubbles. Bill used and cleaned the metal cookware and serving utensils in an imaginary replay of a trapper sitting on a log by an open fire pit, eating a meal of fish, roast rabbit, squirrel, or partridge with fried beans, grits, and corn bread. Bill could imagine how the trapper took his time eating his meal and drinking boiled coffee.

Bill imagined that along came an angry bear with her cubs as the flames of the fire slowly faded. The bear and her cubs decided to finish the meal happily vacated by the trapper, as he jumped up and ran. The trapper didn't argue with the bear and her cubs, about who secured the meal, or who owned the utensils left behind. Perhaps, the trapper was traveling through, found the empty cabin and dead campsite, had his horse tethered nearby, while he prepared a meal, jumped on his horse and rode off when the bear came, never to return for his used tin dishes and cutlery, soon to be buried with falling leaves and twigs.

"I won't sell the bottles that look really special," thought Bill, but he didn't know which ones were rare. Some had names of local or area companies in raised letters on the glass – small companies that were long out of business. Bill kept colorful bottles and sold the others. Dealers in antiques and collectibles were happy to buy the ones with raised lettering, bubbles in the glass, other imperfections, and a few that had full or partial worn, frayed, and stained labels.

There was hardly a breeze stirring as Bill lay on his back, gazing at the clouds, remembering conversations with his mother, or concocting scenes with imaginary travelers of the past. The air was crystal-clear with just a hint of all of the natural evergreen and wintergreen fragrances of the forest. The only sound from the trees was from that of tiny razor-sharp claws of a squirrel scampering along a limb, or up and down the trunk. A twig would crack and fall, or a leaf would be knocked off and come fluttering down. The air was so silent, that he could hear the slightest movement of a bird landing nearby to pluck an insect off a fallen rotting limb.

Trees and shrubs were fully clothed with leaves. This was the height of the summer season, when leaves were at their deepest and richest greens, from the lightest to the darkest. The aspen and the birch seemed so refined, with their smaller light-colored leaves, while the oak seemed so majestic with the larger, heavier, and richer colored dark green leaves. The large crown of elm stood above them all. Early lumberjacks, of the Paul Bunyan era, harvested the giant pine, spruce, hemlock, balsam fir, elm, poplar, birch, and maple trees. They sent logs by train to major landings and down the Wisconsin River for processing at mills in Merrill, Brokaw, and Wausau for sturdy building material and paper pulp.

The smaller trees, surrounding Bill today, were less than eighty years old to replace the giants of the forest stripped by the early loggers.

The forest was beautiful with the mixed shades and hues from the almost black, where little light penetrated, to the brilliant light green of flittering poplar and white birch leaves, where light seemed to bounce from leaf to leaf, and leave emerald gems for travelers to enjoy.

The sounds of the creatures around him were better than that created by the finest musicians. Bill had his own private orchestra in the finest outdoor theater. That was the acoustically perfect clearing in the woods with the wonderful natural wintergreen aroma of clean air mixed with a little smattering of evergreen trees, evergreen shrubs, and a tidbit of wild flowering plants and undergrowth, like that of wild low bush blueberry, spreading elderberry, low bush cranberry, wild strawberry, or wild honeysuckle.

He took a deep breath and enjoyed it to the fullest as his body responded and relaxed. The aroma was better than anything humans could create. It was nature at its prime. It was the physical, emotional, and mental therapy, which Bill needed. It helped him relax and survive.

Bill loved nature. This was a favorite retreat. Another retreat was on a small island about the size of a double city lot, that he reached by swimming from his home on the dead end of South McKinley Street. The third retreat was less accessible and took more time to reach. It was a secluded diving hole nestled deep in the forest between two ridges that he reached by bicycle on an old narrow logging trail. The land just seemed to unexpectedly part, like a football field size sinkhole, fed by a natural spring. Few people today, ventured that far into this area of the woods, swam to his small, secluded island, or went to the clearing with the big moss-covered rock. Bill had his own private retreats shared with his friends, the squirrels, and other of God's creatures.

"Could a glacier have caused this? Or did the ground sink into an underground stream?" Bill wondered as he talked to his little friends of the forest by the diving hole.

Only he seemed to know that it existed, although early trappers or loggers must have come across it, when they trapped or logged this area. Bill often talked with librarian friends at the small community public library about geology, after he returned from a walk in the woods. "What caused this outcropping of rocks all set in a row, and what caused that mound, ridge, or hole? Why do some rocks have sharp, jagged edges, while other rocks have smooth, rounded, or curved surfaces? Did the crust of the earth shift, or was there a volcano many years ago?" Bill questioned and speculated as he talked to the librarians.

Sometimes he would stop at the city public library to read books on the formation of Wisconsin terrain. He found the period of the ice age with glaciers very exciting. The city public librarians were always happy to see Bill and help him find answers, or further stimulate his curiosity. They were his favorite teachers. It seemed that they just accepted him as he was without questioning. They liked his inquisitive mind. They enjoyed helping him learn how to use a dictionary, encyclopedia, atlas, and other reference books. It didn't bother them, that Bill didn't follow the pattern of learning used by other children. They just let him set his own pace and develop a system that worked for him. His beaming face gave a 'thanks' that no words could express or capture. Little did he know at the time, how much the librarians wanted to hug and squeeze that child, with a never-ending, inquiring mind, filled with a constant 'patter' of 'curiosity'. To them, Bill was a desert, thirsting for knowledge that soaked up every drop of intellectual moisture they offered to him. He was like a natural sponge from Tarpon Springs, north of Tampa, midway on the gulf coast of Florida. So, a librarian told him, when he returned from Florida to Tomahawk, years later.

If the books and journals at the library, didn't give suitable answers about the cause of particular rock formations, they could always put responsibility for the unexplained, or the unusual, on pre-historic dinosaurs, or on the mythical Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe.

The early loggers of this area liked to blame or credit good and bad on Paul Bunyan and Babe. The stories people created took on real enormous dimensions when repeated frequently enough. The unexplained slashing of many treetops was Paul Bunyan with his ax chasing an imaginary twinkling butterfly or firefly. In reality, tornadoes often cut a 'swatch' through the forests, as lightning ignited and burned trees until a heavy rain doused the flames.

At one point, a large gnarled oak limb jutted out over the water hole and made it possible to do a dive, or a 'feet-first' jump, down to the deepest point in the water below. "You'll never hit bottom but you might come up in China," Bill teased his forest friends. "Paul Bunyan dropped his ax one day. It was so heavy that he had to chase it right on through to the other side."

Water activities were especially good for Bill. He could forget some of his physical disabilities in the water, where he was very much at home. The buoyancy of water provided an added lift to his body, while soothing aching joints and muscles.

For today, Bill was at his favorite spot, where he spent many hours with his mom when he was little. He loved to feel the sun's rays and the soft padding of a fluctuating gentle breeze when it was blowing. He loved to just close his eyes and hear the sounds around him. He could identify the birds and all the little four-footed creatures. He could identify the smell of the pine, spruce, tamarack, and hemlock trees, whose evergreen and wintergreen scents stood out above all the rest.

Most of all, he enjoyed the taste of fresh wild blackberries, if a bear didn't get to the berries first. They had a unique sweet sour tang all their own. He would often carry small plastic bags in his back pocket so that he could fill a bag, when the berries were plentiful, and take them home to add to his breakfast cereal. Large blackberry stands were plentiful in clearings, left by the loggers, where birds would often carry the seeds of berries eaten at a previous clearing. These woods had one large patch of small low-bush blueberries, as well, near the wet lowland. Blueberries weren't as plentiful as the blackberries, but were equally as great on breakfast cereal.

The small plastic bags were helpful for tucking in special uncut, unpolished, gemstones when he found them by the stream. He might cut and polish the gemstones someday when he could afford a tumbler like a neighbor had for polishing small stones. At times, Ruben Radtke, his neighbor would polish a stone for him, or give him an unpolished stone, that he had found on a hunting trip for gems in another part of the state, or in another state. His neighbor especially liked to scour northern Minnesota for rare stones. Many, of the small stones, that his neighbor found there, were not common to this area. "Why?" Bill would wonder. "Why would they be so different?"

This made Bill think, "Another person, from years ago, liked their beauty and brought them here, just as they brought some of the bottles. Perhaps, another person my age was camping here with his parents a hundred years ago and, perhaps, he collected bottles and gemstones. He may have forgotten to take them along when they moved on, or he may have left them behind when he became seriously ill or had an unexpected accident. Or, a bear, skunk, or wolf may have scared a traveler into dropping his bag of gemstones, and taking flight."

Bill often let his mind wander, as he developed imaginary answers, with imaginary people, to his questions and observations.

"Who traveled this way before? Did they travel on foot or did they have horses? Where did they go? What brought them here? Did they hunt or fish? When did they come? Did my grandparents, or their parents, know of the travelers?"

Bill had a great imagination. He could mentally go back in time, and mentally walk and talk with those, who were there before. He enjoyed talking with the librarians, who helped him bring the past alive. Librarians helped him in the study of geography, geology, and history, along with related graphic arts, literature, and music. Their attention to his desire to learn, while allowing him to discover his own learning pathways, proved a perfect match for Bill's special learning disabilities, which frustrated his teachers at school, who wanted to 'force' him to learn their way.

"Did you ever find a Native American Indian tomahawk in the woods? Sometimes the early trappers would trade some of their knives or bags of rice with Native American Indians for some of their tools, hides, or smoked deer meat."

Questions and observations like that got Bill's curiosity going with wanting to know more about the Native American Indians, who lived in this area. Away, Bill and the librarians would go, searching for books on Native American Indian culture and early history of the area. Whenever Bill got on a topic, his tenacious attitude wanted to 'keep at it', either until he was exhausted, until he had exhausted the available literature, or until it was time for the librarians to close 'shop' for the day.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from DREAMS not FORGOTTEN by Will Kalinke Copyright © 2011 by Will Kalinke. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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