Last weekend we camped in one of Minnesota’s beautiful State Campgrounds. Next to our site, was a huge Hmong family (honestly, have you ever met a small Hmong family?). Brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents were all there, spread across two camping sites. The women cooked, the men and boys fished, and the teenagers played with the toddlers. A lovely, happy, smiling group.
The next morning, John and I headed off to visit a historic site. As we crossed the bridge on our way there, we noticed it was lined with families fishing. And they were all Hispanic. Again, a wave of the hand and a smile greeted us as we coasted by.
Finally, as we were driving through another campground, John remarked that there was “a group of Indians over there”. I thought, “Well, since we are at a State Park which used to be an area to which the Dakota Indians were forcibly relocated, I guess that makes sense. A group of Indians honoring their tragic history.”
But, no, this was a group of Indian Indians. Not like Native American Indians. Indians from India. And get this: they were playing cricket! It was like we had walked on to a set of Masterpiece Theater’s “Indian Summers” where the men are throwing and hitting and whatever else you do in cricket, whilst the ladies sip tea. Except in this case the whole family was playing cricket. As in the Mom pitching, the little kid trying to hit the ball with the big unwieldy club, and other people doing whatever it is you do when playing cricket. There were the brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles gathered round as the kid took a swing. As we passed by, they smiled and waved.
All of this reminded me of my favorite ride at Disneyland: “It’s a Small World”. Everywhere the car turned, we were faced with a new, smiling culture. In a campground. And with no annoying song playing.
Which honestly made me feel so proud to be an American. Not in the patriotic “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood kind of way, which perhaps I was feeling too. But proud to live in a place where there are so many distinct cultures. And despite our strife and differences, we can still light a campfire or hold a fishing pole next to one another.
I’m sure the Indians would have been happy to teach us cricket, but, like the card game bridge, I am not all interested in learning…way too difficult to understand. Besides, it involves a ball and a bat and some athletic prowess, all of which do not come naturally to me.
But in a campground in Minnesota, I would have had the opportunity to try.