First and foremost, I got to swim.
Twice, I think.
It was the only time I've swam this summer.
I can't seem to bring myself to get into that somewhat dubious water at Lake Nokomis near our house, even though people are doing so all around me at the beach there.
But White Iron Lake has the clear iron tinged reddish water I know from my childhood, clear as when I was six years old, I swear.
I got to swim in that cold lake and it was healing and glorious.
I sort of felt like I was going to weep the whole weekend.
Strange memories came to the surface.
Strange thoughts of the past came to me as if I was able to see from a better vantage point than ever before.
There are places in this world that give you a feeling of being on top of the world.
Maybe they're somewhat the same for everyone or maybe it's specific to the individual.
Topography plays a part.
Thomas Jefferson's Monticello made me feel that way, slave history and all, maybe heightened by the long history of suffering.
When I visited Monticello, twice in my life so far, I felt that Thomas Jefferson's vision for the world had to be enhanced by his surroundings.
Paris in general makes me feel this way, but especially when you stand near the Arch de Triomphe or in the Jardin du Luxembourg.
In New York I felt that way about my apartment at 72nd and Columbus.
I felt that I could look out my corner windows in my tiny exquisite gem of four hundred square feet and see the entire world.
Ely does that for me.
When I was a little girl my parents would designate a special day to take me to Ely.
My Dad loved me then, so did my Mom.
I knew what it was to be the special delight of my family.
My big brother loved me too.
I remember how they beamed with pride as I sat on a little stool and got fitted for Minnetonka Moccasins.
I remember they all helped me decide which design to get.
This is a pretty solid memory because it happened every summer, sometime in early June, for several years before everything went to Hell.
I remembered it again this time in Ely.
The store is still there.
You can decide to get the tan suede ones with zippers up the ankles and fringe around the top.
Those also have a super cool silver metal medallion in a Native American design.
Or you can decide to get the white ones that are low slip ons, that have an eagle made out of beads, like the eagle on a totem pole.
When I went off to college in 1979 I bought myself a new pair of moccasins in Ely.
Actually two pairs.
I had the idea, starting college with my permanent address the cabin where I'd just spent the winter.
I worked full time for the summer at the nearby resort.
I had a scholarship to Macalester College in St. Paul and I was worried about dealing with the rich kids at the liberal arts college.
I knew that I used to be one of those rich kids.
My parents would have brought me to college in one of their Jaguars if it had been a few years earlier.
We all took my brother to Carleton College in Northfield in the four door Jaguar with our Boxer dog Brandy in the back seat.
But now I was going down to college from the cabin, by myself.
Russell was going to drive me in his old 1949 Ford pick up. No kidding.
So I got the knee high fringe moccasins for the first time ever, bad ass moccasins to tell those kids I was proud of who I was.
And I got the little white ones with the eagle on them in multi-colored beads because they were so adorable they just always made me happy.
Ely, Minnesota has mattered to me all my life.
Ely, Minnesota matters.
It's a town that is pulled in opposing directions by the people who want manual labor jobs with strong union backing which only comes from mining the land.
The mining projects tend to ravage the wilderness, just drive through Hibbing and Virginia and see what the steel industry hath wrought.
The other people in Ely are high minded tree huggers.
I am firmly resolutely in this camp.
Thank God there are brilliant people with moderate minds who can navigate the polarized factions and help constructively preserve the wilderness.
My hosts in Ely are leaders in their community.
I love that when they say "come hear this music" their friends follow through.
One person said to me, "I left the cabin saying 'this better be as good as they say because I've never even heard of her'".
Ely is full of wonderful people.
And the trees and the waters are just the way I like them.
There are magical memories for me there of my family all smiling at me, all together, all healthy and happy, full of love.
Ely is a mecca for me.
I'm grateful that I'm going there now with my music and that my music works there.
My music is working hard for me and the people of Ely are helping.
I am bursting with gratitude!