Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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On the Art (Not Science) of Parenting


 The Power of Lightning


If it isn't my earliest memory, it must be at least one of the earliest.

It's night. The summer thunderstorm has waked me out of a sound sleep, and I'm sitting in bed crying, terrified. Our house is near the top of the hill, and the crash of the thunder and irregular strobe of lightning seem to come from all around.

The door opens, and my father comes in. He scoops me up into his arms. I have a distinct visual memory of moving from the darkness of my room, through the hall, and into the kitchen, where the lights are on.

My mother—entirely understandably—is saying: Russell, what are you doing? Russell, what are you doing?

Dad opens the back door and steps out into the rain, which is bucketing down. (We must both have been drenched to the skin in seconds, though I have no memory of it.) He snags a lawn chair in one hand, goes out to the center of the yard, and opens it. He sits down, and sets me in his lap.

The storm's initial front has moved on. Together we sit in the rain, listening to the grand rolls of thunder and watching the play of lightning on the horizon.

That's all I remember, but—as dad had intended—ever since then I've loved, not feared, the beauty and majesty of thunderstorms.

Some years ago, having belatedly had some experience in the field myself, my father and I were discussing the fine art of parenting. I cited this story as one of the wisest examples of creative, proactive parenting that I could think of.

As it happened, my father had entirely forgotten the incident. In this way, this man who has given me so many things through the course of my life gave me yet another gift: the subtle, and rather poignant, gift of being able to give back to someone a small piece of their own past.

A satisfied—and perhaps slightly smug—smile flickered on his lips.

“That was a pretty smart thing to have done,” he said.



Russell W. Posch

January 31, 1929 - August 27, 2021

Reborn to the People




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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


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