Northern Country

East and west of the Great Lakes, above the spreading expanse of the Northern interior plains, pine forest meets the deciduous and dark, rolling hills rise into the mountains of the Adirondacks and western Appalachians. Skies open to the grey slate horizon and the cities and sprawl of the east coast megalopolis shrink. Pinched off from the riches and spoils of conquest and violence, the survivors of this region live in  a combination of rural splendor and industrial junkyard.They meet the four seasons and try to squeeze hope from a bitter harvest of lies and manipulation. Like all frontier areas, they are useful only as long as the resources hold, and are repositories of suffering and violence handed from loser to loser for generations.Others didnt even do that well. You can go see them in Canada or western states, on the phone with their lawyers, wondering what the fuck happened.

Lean to gave way to blockhouse. Blockhouse to farm, and the farm just fell apart. Factories and boom towns rose and fell. Canal traffic ceased. Industry went where it was warm and unlegislated. But through the Mohawk Valley of upstate New York to the edge of the Northern plains that open across Ohio, people have their own way.

Years followed and they sent their sons and daughters to the grinding machine. They went to war and to factories. They worked the farms and cut timber. They tried to bring something back. Most returned as an envelope of dust. Things got broken and were fixed the best they could be. The independence and single-minded spirit of the survivors rose above the tragedy. People built a culture from a mish mash of pieces spread out on the trailer floor, bathed in blue grow light and the smoke of cheap cigars.Men and women partnered off with and eye toward fulfilling dysfunctional desires.Stumbling toward the hand of fate. Blind to the danger until they too went dully into the void.

As the dark sky rolls like some chilled death’s-head, bent on annihilation. People roll up their tool belts and park the rig. They feed the children and wonder when he is coming home.They drink and smoke eat and gamble. Worry and surrender. Somewhere under all that is a hard truth. Frontier doesn’t change. The land does more to us than we do to it.Under that truth is another. The land always wins.It wears us down. Time and weather and cold and heat. We work hard to hold back the waters. We clear the snow, clean the barn, fix the roof, put on new brakes.But the shit piles up and we wear down.

People tend to raise hell when they sense the end. Once they feel that cold hand tug on their pant leg, the response is varied and interesting.Northern country stands firm with the people who do the work and whatever comes afterward. It’s the stories, good and bad. It’s a philosophy that accepts that you can’t be whole without all the parts.Each of those parts have a style and a will that drives them to the blackness in their own way.

But you can be sure that no one here gets out alive. So when the snow falls deep in the fields and that west wind howls like the wolves of Hades. You can lock the door, stoke the fire, check on the sawed off, and finally write that song. The one that tells the whole story.