Hi, I’m Mike Spry, novice writer. My wife and I grew up surrounded by large extended families in the small towns and hamlets of northwestern Minnesota. As kids, our whole world consisted of about 100 square miles along the southern boundary of the White Earth Indian Reservation. We left in 1983, one month after graduating college, and spent the next 24 years living in the Intermountain West. We made many day trips to Yellowstone, Glacier, the Tetons and the Sawtooths and loved the beauty of the region. But we always wanted to be back in Minnesota. In the “Wizard of Oz” Dorothy (played by Minnesota native Judy Garland) speaks the truth: “there’s no place like home.”
But what is home? What makes it so special? It is too easy to start painting nostalgic word pictures of family gatherings and traditions here. But there is another true saying: “you can’t go home again.” Many family members are no longer with us and their descendants grow further and further apart. The old familiar places of our youth, such as the mom-and-pop grocery store, Grandma’s house, and the tree forts we built, are long gone. The quiet lake shores we knew as kids are now crowded with McMansions featuring 6 bathrooms and imported Italian marble.
But Minnesota is still home for us. What makes it so? This question is at the root of the themes I explore in this blog. These include building our new home on 5th Crow Wing Lake, exploring the history of my French-Canadian and Ojibwe ancestors (see Before There Was a Minnesota page), and a memoir about my relationship with my Grandpa Ray (see Going Fishing with Grandpa page). I’m not really sure where these writing projects are going, but I thought I would share them and get feedback. I’m hoping those who visit this site and read what I write will ask questions that make me consider other perspectives. Mostly, I hope you enjoy reading my writing and will encourage me to continue.