Oh, time makes men grow sad
And rivers change their ways
But the night wind and her riders
Will ever stay the same...
Reading The Hum and the Shiver by Tennessee expat Alex Bledsoe. It is set in Tennessee, but not in the '40s or '50s, the time some authors choose for that region. It takes place today, though I can attest the further out you go into that wild, the further back you go in time. The book has me thinking of family, particularly to bloodlines, about which I have never given much thought. While my father has researched our family's history admirably, I have but a vague sense of the family thread - a mutt pedigree that thins and fades like fog. Stories and words that twist themselves toward meaning. Small children watching affairs end with both barrels, limbs lost as a matter of course, men whose iron bones turned back invisible tides in the Civil War. Surnames break and split like streams to creek. Counts. Tucker. Bobo. Back further still. Signposts barely legible. Huguenot and nomad.
All of this floats through my head as I read about the book's main character, Bronwyn Hyatt, and her return home, the blood that welcomes her as one of their own, but forever changed. I sit in my Minnesota home, hundreds of miles from the air the story makes me long for wanting to feel the arms of my mother around me strong, assured of something I cannot name, something known only to us, with small, mystic gestures like the Tufa in the story. We were born in the middle, neither urban nor remote enough to grow native traits I might later use to identify me in the us. I have trouble finding deepblood traits to distinguish us from the progression my parents moved outland to abandon. O how we seek to be special in the face of the tide.
Bronwyn's return comes through sacrifice, through heroic acts appreciated by her place and people. Today I find myself devoid of such, whatever potential cultivated in youth now leveled out and on display for those to only wonder after. At some point or another, I guess we all want to be a hero, have our mother's praise be vindicated. Perhaps sometimes it goes dormant as we enter the flow and tide, as we learn that just about everyone has potential, and that it is up to us to make it an active thing. Sometimes it takes hitting bottom to activate it. Maybe the feeling of a god's light upon our upturned face. Hell, maybe sometimes it just takes a story, a parable of sacrifice and humility before the immensity of the world, something to remind us that there is a difference between what we are handed and what we choose to do with it. We'll see. I'm not done with the story, neither one.