Voices from the Heartland - "Mermaids And Myths" by Laurie Allmann

Grants | NHPRC | Programs | MPR News Feature | Voices from the Heartland | Special Collections | Minnesota Books and Authors | Types | Commentary | Cryptids |
Listen: Voices from the Heartland - Mermaids And Myths by Laurie Allmann

Hear from Laurie Allmann as she talks about mermaids and myths in this episode of Voices from the Heartland.


(00:00:00) It's been a long time since I saw the mermaid. It was eight years ago this December down in Florida's Ten Thousand Islands area in the Everglades. We'd been paddling a canoe through a mangrove swamp trying to work our way through the Maze of tidal streams and out to a main Channel. It's easy to get lost in a mangrove swamp the waterways braid and unbraid like strands of hair. Some of them lead out and others lead only deeper into the back Bays of the maze. The highest elevation in all of Florida is only a foot above sea level. So climbing to a high spot to get your bearings doesn't do you much good. The best thing to do is to travel When the tide is going out and when you hit an intersection take the stream where the current pulls strongest toward the sea. We paddled most of the morning ducking under spider webs that span the narrow green tunnels made by the laced fingers of the mangroves when we finally hit the open Channel. It was almost noon and the bright Sun was startling after the dim and Misty tunnels of the swamp. I was half daydreaming still in a sort of sensory Heaven of salt smells and warm sun and liquid water after leaving behind the Frozen sent desert of a Minnesota winter just the day before. I lifted the paddle and was watching it enter the water on the down stroke. When a round brown eye big as a baseball rose up in the water broke the surface and rolled back in a great fleshy face to look at me. Its head was to the port side of the canoe. Its body a massive Dark Cloud that ran beneath us and ended in a stubby tail off to the starboard. a mermaid that's what the sailors of the 16th century said it was they sent stories back to Europe of the wonderful creatures. They were seeing for the first time in the new world and the animals they described were pictured and included in the science books of the day. Some of them were fantasy 500 foot long serpents and some of them were real like the bizon. And some of them like the mermaids were a little bit of both. The sailors mermaid was a manatee and so was mine. You don't encounter adults anymore who believe in mermaids and hardly any who believe in a good 500 foot long serpent. They stopped putting them in the science books and the old Sailors aren't here to tell the stories. But there are new stories and they're just as good and some of them are true. There's the one about the hummingbirds who migrate south on the backs of Canada geese at least as far as Rochester. And there are the alligators that come up your toilet bowl. So that in some parts of Minnesota. You have to check before you sit down. Oh and there's the cougar. For a long time there were no confirmed records of a cougar ever being in the state. Just an old skull labeled, Duluth, Minnesota. Now there are a few confirmed sightings in the North country and three times in the last two years local people near the Twin Cities have told the cougar Story the one about the perfect 4 inch tracks with a 3 lobed heel and the sound of the feline scream of the big cat. I went out at night into the hills where they say it's been cougars can roam 25 miles a night a deer a week if they could get it would be half their diet. The sky is covered with low hanging clouds. I can't see the stars. But I can imagine the cougar back deep in these Shadows putting Soft Paws down on soft snow. I wonder whether the cool air I breathe has ever been in the lungs of a cougar. And like the child who listens for sleigh bells on a December night. There's a part of me that doesn't have to see to believe. But these are just stories aren't
(00:04:19) they?


Digitization made possible by the National Historical Publications & Records Commission.

This Story Appears in the Following Collections

Views and opinions expressed in the content do not represent the opinions of APMG. APMG is not responsible for objectionable content and language represented on the site. Please use the "Contact Us" button if you'd like to report a piece of content. Thank you.

Transcriptions provided are machine generated, and while APMG makes the best effort for accuracy, mistakes will happen. Please excuse these errors and use the "Contact Us" button if you'd like to report an error. Thank you.

< path d="M23.5-64c0 0.1 0 0.1 0 0.2 -0.1 0.1-0.1 0.1-0.2 0.1 -0.1 0.1-0.1 0.3-0.1 0.4 -0.2 0.1 0 0.2 0 0.3 0 0 0 0.1 0 0.2 0 0.1 0 0.3 0.1 0.4 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.4 0.5 0.2 0.1 0.4 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.2 0 0.4-0.1 0.5-0.1 0.2 0 0.4 0 0.6-0.1 0.2-0.1 0.1-0.3 0.3-0.5 0.1-0.1 0.3 0 0.4-0.1 0.2-0.1 0.3-0.3 0.4-0.5 0-0.1 0-0.1 0-0.2 0-0.1 0.1-0.2 0.1-0.3 0-0.1-0.1-0.1-0.1-0.2 0-0.1 0-0.2 0-0.3 0-0.2 0-0.4-0.1-0.5 -0.4-0.7-1.2-0.9-2-0.8 -0.2 0-0.3 0.1-0.4 0.2 -0.2 0.1-0.1 0.2-0.3 0.2 -0.1 0-0.2 0.1-0.2 0.2C23.5-64 23.5-64.1 23.5-64 23.5-64 23.5-64 23.5-64"/>