Photo credit: James Neeley
I just returned home to western Minnesota after a couple days in the SE Minnesota blufflands. Minnesota is unique in being the home to the intersection of three differnt biomes/ecosystems (prairie grasslands, coniferous forest, and deciduous forest) and when you travel between them you can see, feel, smell the difference.
So I'm suffering from ecosystem envy-- or probably garden envy! My sisters garden is a sight to behold. For example, last spring I planted 75 feet of strawberries which are soldiering on ankle high against the winds, cold, and dry spells producing hard little berries. At the same time my sister Kelley (and husband Jason- a dairy farmer) planted five plants and have knee high strawberries bursting with big berries and threatening to take over the rest of her garden, which by the way is spectacular.
Like I said in my last entry- the part of the prairie we live in is glorious savahna grasslands- but it is definitely a harsher climate. Violent winds, lower rainfall, longer winters (we are 250 miles North and West of my sister and mom). And not the easiest place to grow a garden. Our tomato plants were sand blasted by crazy winds blowing soil, my herbs just bake in the hot sun. My apple trees froze and thawed on their southern sides causing the bark to turn black and they too soldier on...
It also seems, from driving around, that the people and barns are holding up a bit better in SE Minnesota. Our barns, all around, are greying and collapsing. Empty farmhouses hanging on with thin hopes of being homes again. The barns in SE appear to holding up, painted if still empty of animals.
I tell my kids over and over that the key to happiness is to want exactly what you already have. To relish and delight in what is, not what could be. But dang, Kelley's strawberry pie tasted good!
**p.s. when I was little, a Dr. Neeley in Hayfield, MN sewed up my leg on a Sunday morning after an accident on Grandma's farm. This photo credit is a Neeley with lots of SE farm pictures. Anyone know if it's the same family?