"Memory is all," writer Louise Erdrich told journalist Bill Moyers in an interview on public television a few years ago. Moyers, asking about her novel Shadow Tag, wondered if "love, survival, and memory are themes that come to you from your American Indian past." Erdrich continued, "Memory is where the language resided, because it was an oral language. The stories resided. They were not written down."
What needs to be remembered? And how do we remember? How should memory serve?
Recollecting the past has been very much on the minds of MCV staff members these days as we celebrate the magazine's 75th year of telling stories of Minnesota's natural resources and outdoor life. The opening piece in this issue, under the banner Spotlight 75, taps the memory of editor emeritus Robert Kraske. In his chronicle of this magazine's journey, he concludes that we—the magazine, its staff, contributors, and readers—are fellow travelers.
By sharing stories—telling, listening, reading, and retelling—we share experience. We become a kind of community.
What makes a story meaningful and memorable for you? Which MCV stories stand out in your memory?
When I asked my husband this question, he answered that over the years the stories keep showing and reminding him how one thing connects to another. Thinking more specifically, he cited "The Crossroads of Climate Change" (Jan.–Feb. 2001) for opening a conversation about a controversial topic and "The Other Face of Hunting" (Sept.–Oct. 1994) for its novelty, good storytelling, and striking photographic portraits.
Recently, an astute reader noted the magazine's upcoming anniversary and the trove of stories in the online MCV archive. (See Letters in this issue.) She suggested we use this occasion as an opportunity to revisit some stories, looking back at how things have changed or stayed the same.
History can show what's possible, what works, and what fails. It can reveal actions or events that led to the current scenario. And it might point the way to the future.
In this issue "Changing Waters" examines the walleye fishery on Mille Lacs Lake. The story describes current research into confounding new circumstances. And it makes note of other times and places when faltering walleye populations were reinvigorated.
"Nature on the Move" also addresses shifts in our waters and landscape. Written for Young Naturalists, this story explains some basic science of climate change. It highlights innovations for large-scale energy solutions as well as some tried-and-true ways for families to save energy.
Explore the online archive of past issues and you'll discover the magazine has covered many of the same subjects and stories time and again—sometimes, successive stories show progress; others times, stories offer variations on a theme. After writing and editing stories for more than 25 years, I'm surprised to find how many I remember and how many I've forgotten. When I reread a story, I also realize how incomplete and inaccurate my memory can be. "Forgetfulness," a poem by Billy Collins, sees the humor in such loss: "… one by one, the memories you used to harbor decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain, to a little fishing village where there are no phones." According to some memory researchers, everyone has a faulty memory. Experiments demonstrate that every time we dredge up a memory, we reinterpret and revise it in light of our current situation. In other words, the MCV archive contains more accurate information than my memory bank does—another good reason to consult those past issues.
In another 75 years or so, how will future readers and historians view the conservation work and outdoor life of today? The condition of their land, air, water, and other natural resources will tell the tale. If they turn to this magazine's story archive, they might also see signs of the path from then to now. Let's hope it leads to a good story.
Kathleen Weflen, editor