Whenever I go in a northerly direction, I say I am going "up" to………..(where ever it is I am going towards the north) I think that is because as geography students, we look at maps and associate north with "up" because it is "up" on a flat map. Anyway, I went "UP" to Itasca Park earlier this week and realized that you are literally going "up" all the way after Detroit Lakes. The rises are gentle but if you pay attention, you know you are getting into higher elevations until you are over 1400 feet above sea level according to the venerable old tree trunk sign at the Headwaters of the Mighty Mississippi. I have never been into Itasca Park quite this early in the summer season; it was absolutely beautiful with the lovely shade of light lime green of the young leaves. The oaks have the tiniest "baby leaves" on them now and the ash trees are also sporting miniature leaves. I am always awed by the mighty red pines (Norway pines) at Itasca. It brings memories of the first time I went there; I had never seen trees like that and the first sight of "Preacher’s Grove" with its mighty red pines is still etched on my memory. On that visit my dad climbed a "fire tower" with me and I suppose it was at least 100 feet high. I don’t think I could do it now; I have developed a mighty fear of heights as an adult but as a 9 year old, I thought it was the greatest adventure I had ever had. The fire towers are long gone; spotter planes have replaced them I guess. We had a friend in the 1960s who spent all summer living in a fire tower in Oregon so it hasn’t been that long since those towers were necessary. I have been to the Mississippi Headwaters more times than I can count but I am also awed by the small beginnings of the nation’s biggest river. People were crossing those rocks already that day; kids were gleefully swimming in the water below the spillway that comes out of Lake Itasca. I still remember my book from grade 4, "Gopher Tales" which was a primary level Minnesota history book. The story of the search for the headwaters of the Mississippi still fascinates me….the famous Zebulon Pike did not succeed but it was Henry Schoolcraft, who was not what you would call a tough outdoorsman who finally found the "true head" and named the place from the Latin words for "true head"…Veritas Caput and if you look at the end of one word and the beginning of the other, you can see "Itasca". I suppose most people think it is a native name but it isn’t. Schoolcraft would never have found the source without the help of his native Chippewa guide who has one of the campgrounds in Itasca named for him. It is a name I cannot spell but it begins with a "Z" and I met a group of campers from the St. Paul schools who were camping at that place last week. I met them while they were all lying on a bridge that crosses the baby river as it leaves the lake and their teachers said that only one of these students had ever been to Itasca before. Most of the kids appeared to be of Asian, Native American, and Black descent…probably inner city kids on a great adventure like my first trip to Itasca so long ago. I hope they have enjoyed it as much as I did.
I always feel obliged to take a nap on Sunday afternoons even if I am not particularly tired. It was a family tradition in my growing-up years; my dad, who worked tirelessly 6 days a week in his machine shop, really needed his Sunday nap. My mom napped also and so did my sister when she was little. That left me, who was not at all interested in napping. Thank goodness,my parents allowed me to go to the Sunday afternoon matinees in a small town theater when movie tickets cost about 20 cents and you could get popcorn for 5 cents or 10 cents(small and large bags!!) If I was so lucky as to have 25 cents on a Sunday I could have one bag of popcorn and see the movie….if my daddy was feeling extra generous, I might get 50 cents and wow!!!…. I could see the movie, have two large bags of popcorn and a treat at the restaurant next door where I called my dad to come and pick me up!!! Sunday was a big deal at that young age. Now I find myself wanting to nap, like my parents always did. When I was still un-retired, it was a necessity! I needed that extra charge to start the work week. Now it just seems like I should. because it is a tradition!! Today I am kind of in need of the Sunday Nap; I spent an exciting day on Saturday working as a Fargo Marathon volunteer and it was a true blast! All the time I helped hand out the gatorade and the water at our aid station, I was revved up on adrenalin…couldn’t drink coffee due to avoidance of porta-potty emergencies (we didn’t have one near us). Surely was fun seeing the runners (half Marathoners and full Marathoners) come through our station; we got some good comments from some of the runners; one older guy came to us and asked if any of us "girls" did heart transplants! As we called out to them with "gatorade! water!" one woman answered back with "Aleve? Advil? Tylenol? Anything?" Another runner answered the gatorade-water calls with "Whiskey" ! A younger guy wanted morphine! And then there was the cynical younger woman, who looked pretty tired and done in and when she was asked if she needed anything, she said, "Yes, I need a ^##@–!! ride! I need to delete the kind of ride she wanted. (blush-blush) I am old; I didn’t know women talked that way! It was great fun for the volunteers at our station. We got tired from the wind, the sun, the fresh air, and standing on the concrete but those runners are the ones that must be napping today (I hope) At the Dome later I enjoyed seeing one of the older guys cross the finish line and get down and kiss it just after he crossed it. I hope he is having a great nap right now. I think I shall go see if my recliner is calling my name.
The opening of the upcoming movie of the DaVinci Code has Christians stirred up, even enraged. Why the movie is doing this after the book has sold over 40 million copies is hard to comprehend. But the internet news, as well as other sources, is full of the controversy and the attempts to get people to stay away from the movie. Even the movie critics who are hard-nosed about offensive material, are panning the movie, mostly for it’s lack of true excellence in the acting, et.al. I read accounts of really bad reviews by critics in Cannes at a pre-opening showing.
I recently attended a DVD presentation called, "Jesus: DaVinci or Divine". I was amazed to hear Dr. David Bierle, a true scholar of ancient Biblical manuscripts, refute Dan Brown’s claim that his story is based on "true facts" when in reality, Brown has relied on Gnostic writings that originiate as late as the 4th Century (A.D.) The manuscripts of the NT writings which are accepted as the true Christian scriptures and accounts of the life of Christ, were all written and being quoted as early as 100 A.D. They were written by "Eyewitnesses" to Christ’s earthly life. Brown’s assertions of a bloodline of Mary Magdalene and Jesus are totally based on the apostatic Gnostic writers also…..highly questionable sources that Brown quotes as gospel truth in his writing. That so many people believe Dan Brown is a sign of ignorance of true Biblical knowledge and sadly, a sign, perhaps, of the eager willingess to believe myths rather than truth.
Small town hospitality is not always what it is cracked up to be. There is a small town along Interstate 94 that has advertised for years about its great local cafe. I always wanted to stop there to check it out because the advertising led me to believe that it was a really friendly place. What a shock when I finally got off the freeway and went in and sat down.
I was shocked to be stared at by the locals and not greeted at all by any of the cafe’s staff.It seems to be a major case of false advertising. Small town residents can be very "clannish" when it comes to outsiders invading their space. They are usually very curious about who you are and they would like to know more for the sake of something to talk about for awhile. Genuine friendliness is not always easy to find when you are not part of the "insiders" and long-term locals. It is hard for outsiders to move into these communities because they are never considered part of the town milieu if they don’t have a family history of 3-4 generations. Just recently there has been a big to-do in a nearby small community over the building of a large livestock operation that is going to cause distress when the odors get to the surrounding rural housing developments. It was an excercise in the "MP Railroad" (Money and Power) versus the "little people" (outsiders who have little clout and have not lived around here for a long time like the MP people. It is an interesting social phenomenon and it will be more than interesting to see what happens ilf the odors become unbearable.
From a hill high above the Buffalo River, I take interest in what is happening in Fargo in spite of not being a resident of either Fargo or North Dakota. It is so nice living close to a growing city and still enjoying the pleasant benefits of rural residency. We can see the lights of Fargo when the conditions are right in the night skies.
Every day the news and opinion pages of the FORUM carry more and more interesting insights into the Fargo mayoral candidates. It has to be a good sign that so many candidates are eager to serve as Mayor. It is going to be interesting to see how the June election turns out. Fargo residents are not indifferent to their local politics.
I have also volunteered to help at an aid station at the Fargo Marathon on May 20. Some Red Hat friends and I will be doing this along with another team from a Fargo business. Fargo can be proud of its Marathon, only 2 years old this year. I have received information that 5000 runners are registered for 2006. Like last year, I am sure the Fargo people will turn out to cheer on the runners as they compete in the 26 mile course. I cannot imagine WALKING 10 miles to say nothing of RUNNING 26 miles!! It will be a most fascinating day on May 20 especially at an aid station for the runners. My morning trek to the mailbox is considered good excercise!
On the rural scene at Buffalogal’s place, we saw 5 white egrets in flight yesterday!!! I suppose they are not rare birds, but seeing 5 of them rise from our wooded river bottoms was a pleasant surprise. The Canadian Geese must have laid their eggs….the extremely loud "arguments" in the wetlands have quieted down and I haven’t seen the pairs of geese in the field below our house dining on the green grass shoots for awhile. They still go insane when a muskrat swims by their "territory". The geese pairs seem to share equally in the nesting, brooding, and gosling-care. May all the foxes in the woods be kept away from those nests!!
I wish human parents were as vigilant and totally devoted to their offspring as the Geese.
Another rainy day in May guaranteed to bring on the "May Flowers" (I hope) since I have planted a lot of seeds and set out a few hardy plants in my flower gardens. This my best time of year….I love gardening and working on my lawn. This spring includes trying to repair grub-damaged patches of lawn. Living on a farm guarantees endless outside jobs. When it is so green and fresh it is all worth it and the anticipation of another summer season is also inspiring.
This afternoon would be a wonderful day to start another favorite book; I have been reading from THE CAT WHO..series by Lillian Jackson Braun….lighthearted, well- told tales about a journalist and his two Siamese cats, one of whom is brilliant and able to solve a lot of crimes!
My book and my recliner are calling my name!