June 21, 2012

Sweetland {photo courtesy of google images}


There’s a scene in the movie  Sweetland (which is filmed in Minnesota) in which the starring characters are in a barn and they’re shaking something out. A blanket maybe? Why can’t I remember, it’s one of my favorite scenes in a movie ever. I need to watch it again. Maybe even tonight. Anyway, the couple, who have taken a long and winding road to a different kind of “marriage” are in the barn and the light is just so and the dust is flying all around and everything is in slow motion. When I first saw this movie in a tiny theater in St. Paul, Minnesota with one of my oldest and best friends, I wept.

I watched the barn air and the working together and I wept. I still don’t fully know why. When you’re from Minnesota and you come from a long line of Minnesotans, you feel it in your core. I’m sure this is true of most people, feeling their roots pulling up through the soil through souls. We get attached like this to where we’re from. So the whole movie does something in me that most movies don’t, but I don’t think it’s only because I grew up and live in Minnesota. It’s also this love story that’s not really a love story, the humor and grace of these characters, all of them, not just the leading ones. It’s a love story that’s also not a love story only because it’s so different than what we normally are fed through movies. It’s more real. It’s hard in a different way. It moves in a way that speaks of careful trying and hanging on through discomfort. Writers and directors obviously do what they do with subtle themes in mind and I guess I just felt those themes while watching this movie again and again since 2005.


Sweetland {photo courtesy of google images}


2004 was the year Ryan and I got married. I saw this movie just a few months after our wedding. I needed to see it–to remember what real love is and to see how it’s so many things to so many people. It doesn’t look like a courtship and butterflies in the stomach and first kisses and then a big problem and reconciliation every time. Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense and and makes complete sense anyway. Sooner or later that’s true of all relationships, methinks. We take our love roads in fits and spurts and it’s really great sometimes and other times it’s awful.  Sometimes the usual way of movies and books confuses us into thinking we need to get back “there”, to something other than now that has butterflies and firsts, when instead we’re just supposed to hold on. Just hold on. (I say sometimes because I fully realize there are times to NOT hold on.)

Today I was cleaning out the chicken coop and the dust was cutting through like that scene in Sweetland. I was shaking apart a little tiny hay bail and the smell makes me happy. I gave them new hay and I rolled up my sleeves because I was getting hot, even in the shade. The chickens followed me around the yard and I cleaned out their food bowls and their water container and set them to dry in the sun for later. I got dirty, all the way up my arms and I said who cares. Then I cleaned out our little blow up pool and pulled it out of the way so Ryan can do landscaping work later and I picked up toys for the big blue bucket.

I have Minnesota down in my bones, like tiny little farmers traipsing back and forth to my heart, doing their hard work. And I have Ryan here, who pulled at me the same way when we met and got to know each other years ago. Like he was from all my life and years and years before me, even when nothing else made sense. Like we had been shaking something out in a barn, working together in a dream history of working yourself to bone weary tired and being glad for it. We do that together now too, in different ways, and we just hold on.



Pamela June 21, 2012 at 9:14 pm

I remember that scene, and oh, how I love that movie, too.
There was so much power in their working together; the intensity squeezed my heart.
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Elizabeth June 21, 2012 at 9:15 pm

This one speaks to me more than usual, Heather. From the part about the firsts and butterflies and holding on and through, to an evening of giving chickens more hay, to the bone weary work of marriage and parenting and life. I really like this post, and now I want to see that movie.

(I wrote in my notebook this evening about my day/evening, and reading the part here about the work you were doing in your yard was almost mirror image to mine. I felt and saw exactly what [I imagined you to be] you were doing. Very cool experience reading it.)

you sound good.

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Varda (SquashedMom) June 22, 2012 at 4:20 am

This one… this one… this one…. I love all your posts, all your writing, but this one, today, is so beautiful, so special. It’s not a big earth-shattering, gut wrenching one, it’s not the lens turned on a sweet perfect single moment. It doesn’t make sense and and makes complete sense anyway, that it is still my favorite thing I have read online in days. Because it IS somehow perfect, in all its shaggy here-and-thereness; a window into your soul. And a beautiful one at that. Love you, my friend.

(Clearly, I am going to include this post in my blog’s June edition of “Round-Up: What I Loved on OTHER People’s Blogs” at the end of the month.)
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Marta June 22, 2012 at 12:20 pm

I have never seen the movie but now I will have to seek it out. I love love stories that aren’t real love stories. Actually, it is because they are real love stories, the kind that happen every day not on a cinema screen were love is easy and amendable and good things happen naturally and extraordinarily.
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Pamela June 23, 2012 at 12:24 am

It’s streaming on Netflix, I think.

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