Photography by Julie SaariCate B.
Cass Lake Elementary School
Somewhere between roller derby practice, judging performances for a music scholarship, child’s theater practice, classes, workshops, and meetings, Cate whittled out a bit of time for me. I met Cate for the first time at The Wild Rose Theater in downtown Bemidji. Trying to keep up with Ms. Belleveau and snap pictures at the same time was, to say the least, a challenge. One can not help but feel her constantly creating, it seems to be second nature for her. A buzz of activity and energy Cate’s spirit fills a room.
An athletic 8th grader traveling with her Wisconsin based family on a trip around Lake Superior and its environs was told “ Haul out everyone we need a break and this grassy lake front seems perfect!”
Six kids were stuffed in a baby blue Ford station wagon and welcomed rolling down the grassy hills that came to a pleasant stop at the shores of Lake Bemidji. After picnicking on that sunny August day and doing the “Cheese Smile” at the statues of Paul & Babe , we continued on to Lake Itasca. That would be a must-see if one was visiting northern Minnesota. Now, who would have ever in their wildest imaginings have guessed that this little basketball jock young woman could have waved a good bye kiss to Bemidji.
“ Hey, I will be back in 9 years and eventually make you my home … I will fall in love with a man who was living like Thoreau. I will open a woman’s theater collective in that old brick building across from where I rolled down the hill giggling with my siblings . I will work hard with my husband to put public art on the streets. I will strive to keep small town Bemidji alive in a way that only the arts can imbue to a sense of place . I will direct a Shakespeare Fest on your shore lines. During a production of Pippi Longstocking, pirates will come by boat in a kids’ show in the warm August sun. The same sun I remembered from when I ate sandwiches with family way back when. I will play opposite the mayor of this fair city in a theatrical show about ice fishing right on the lake in January. I will even race across glittering waters with an all female team for the Dragon Boat Festival .”
I love Bemidji for the arts community , the natural world , the “small time feel like I know people” ethos , and the sense of humor about itself .
Where else could we have raised our children who have moved to large cities ( DC, NYC, Montreal ) who now have memories of the screaming man coming up the driveway yelling “AAAAAAAL”. That would turn out to be three baby bear cubs wailing at 4:00 AM in the birch tree out front of the house . We have stopped in our tracks and listened to gray wolves howl which sent the hair vertical on our arms .
There is the kayaking on lakes where no one lives , the skiing by open water in Three Island Park, and snowshoeing on our own 120 acres of mixed woods, swamps and beaver ponds . There are the morel mushrooms, Springtime maple syrup, gardening all summer, mosquitoes, wood ticks, wood heat all winter long , sunsets, and aurora borealis.
This area has given me the joy of being publicly hugged by dozens of Native American children I have served on the Red Lake and Leech Lake Indian Reservations as I walk through Target and they spot me .
I am a gypsy always wanting to move on, move on and have traveled to Japan, Germany, 50 states and Canada, New Zealand, Nepal , Britain, France, Switzerland, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Italy, Greece. I always want to explore more, learn more, understand more and yet I always return home to Bemidji.
My ashes will be scattered in my spiritual home, Heaven’s Peak in Glacier National Park, but what a blessing Bemidji has been. For now – home, in the best sense …
Home is love ,
self- actualization as an artist,
aesthetic beauty and
Pics by Julie Saari