I was almost to my hotel and a man was kneeling on the sidewalk pulling a trumpet out of its case. I was well past him and was about to cross the street when he started to play. Jazz? Blues?
I don’t know, but it was beautiful and haunting and sad and there was no way I could not go back to him. We looked into each other’s eyes and he played just for me. His trumpet was dented and tarnished and the green velvet in the case was worn through in places. The notes went past me and into the darkness behind me and I could hear them echo off the buildings down the street. He came to a slow passage and he closed his eyes as he played. I don’t know if the song was his or if it was passed down to him, but I could hear strains of Africa in his music and he played from generations of lost and taken dreams.
In the Spirit of Medicine features the essays of Dr. Arne Vainio, an enrolled member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and a family practice doctor on the Fond Du Lac reservation in Cloquet. His essays on life, work, medicine, and spirit are published in News from Indian Country and you can find the link to this story here.