July 2012 Archives

Bliss and Adventure in Big Stone County, Minnesota


Cross my heart. Hope to die. Stick a needle in my eye. Plus a pinkie promise that the kids could spend 5 Wednesday nights this summer roller skating at the Sioux Historic ballroom located on Big Stone Lake north of Ortonville. Truth is... I love to roller skate so it's nothing but fun.

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There ain't nothing, people, like going into a dark ballroom filled with kids, loud music spanning 60 years from last week to 1952, and strapping on a pair of skates for a few hours. The whole world narrow down to this one great place and time. I make the boys hold my hand for the couple skate.

But last night I was in need of a little time to myself. So I walked the few feet over to the Lakewood Lodge. This is a great and beautiful place right on the lake- with a great patio and a dock to moor the pontoons that come down the lake for a good meal and nice drink. I found myself with a nice, pink drink in my hand. Blissfully looking at the pelican rookery and sun reflecting on the water. Complete peace and calm as the sun set to the west over the lake. Ahhhhhh.

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And then it was time to herd the boys to the car (the girl is at Farmer's Union camp) and head the 18 miles back home. A lovely night with a half moon in the sky, thunderheads lit up by lightening in the dark sky. We begged the clouds to rain on our farm, but they were too far east.

I turned onto the last gravel road to our house and had to slam on the brakes, sliding in the gravel, as I came face to face with large, lumbering, grayish animals. I stopped within feet of them and was actually sputteringly dumbstruck. I didn't know what those animals were. .........................................................

What's right about this place


It's good for the soul to practice being grateful for what we have. Some days that is easier than others. But living near Clinton, MN gives me many opportunities to enjoy the gifts of family, community, and plain old fashioned fun.

Like dancing a polka on mainstreet on my way with my kids to the grocery store.
Most days of the week there's an interesting sound track playing from the outdoor stereo system on the old bank (compliments of and to Dave). Some days I'll just stop in my tracks as a haunting old Johnny Cash song plays on. Yesterday, it was a great set of polka.

Note to self: don't polka while recording video

The people here invest in the children- as a whole more than any one individual. Maybe that's the way it is all over. But it is so very clear how much all of these kids mean to the community. They close the streets for a kiddie parade.

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The firemen set up the hoses and on a hot summer day and the kids get to play in the middle of the street for an afternoon of summertime fun.

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Followed by a root beer float chaser and a carnival put on by the Civic Club.

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And then it is Fair time. With 4-H stands and animal barns. And a tractor pull for the younger kids. For some seriously wonderful pictures of kids at the fair, click here to see Becky Red Barn's professional photos of the Big Stone County Fair. A must see.





If you let yourself, it's like falling in love over and over again. Small places are a blessing... a rooted foundation of much that is good in the world and life. I didn't know that's what I'd be giving my children when we moved here. Mike remembers the frustration of getting in trouble in town at the end of the school day and his mother already waiting angrily at home when the bus pulled up--someone having called to rat him out in those few miles of bus ride. So it can go both ways- the embrace and the sanction. For the time being, I'll just hang with the embrace.

C4's Soaking it up

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Photo credit: A.K.D. Jorgenson Corn field on our farm (can you see my hands sticking out of the corn? I'm standing on tip toes)

Corn is growing achingly, head spinning fast. Three weeks ago you could see the soil between the rows and today it's a dense bursting 6 feet high of green leaves. Rain at just the right time and a heat index approaching 105 degrees (with a forecast of 115 degrees this week) has unleashed all the evolutionary power of this C4 photosynthesizing plant. Corn oh corn! Your C4 photosynthetic abilities putting other plants to shame on these lush, hot wet days. Biomass? You want biomass? I'll give you biomass. Take a walk into that field- cutting through the dripping wet, hot air as you part the stalks of corn. You don't see corn like this every day or even every year. But 2012 has been good for those corn fields in Big Stone County that missed the hail storm two weeks ago. Farming is a tricky business. But every once in a while the storms, stars, heat index, soil temp and moisture align so that the crops grow with a vigor that you might dream about, but would be afraid to hope for.

So for today that corn is stretching to the blue sky and the mounting thunderheads to the east. Tomorrow, however, we're gonna need some more rain.

In case you want to know more about C4 plants- here's the campiest rap video ever made.

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