It has been over a year since Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast of the U.S. New Orleans, Pas Christian, and other cities along the Gulf were devastated by the powerful storm. A few years before that, another part of the Gulf Coast was hit hard by Hurricane Ivan…Gulf Shores, Alabama is still rebuilding and recovering from that one. Years before those two storms, Hurricane Andrew absolutely wiped parts of southern Florida off the map temporarily but those communities have also rebuilt and recovered. In 1997, Grand Forks ND and Fargo ND, as well as other communities along the Red River of the North, were badly damaged in what was called a 100- year flood. Grand Forks and East Grand Forks were totally submerged in their downtown areas and in many residential areas as well. Residents had to flee in the middle of the night when the dikes broke letting the Red River rush in to wipe out those two cities on the Red. Every summer we hear details of complete destruction by tornadoes across the middle of the midwest and in some other places as well. Entire towns, cities and rural countrysides are destroyed by these horrific storms. But what is it about New Orleans? To hear some people tell it, it is the most earth-ending disaster in all of history. There was a letter to the editor on January 29 from a true-President Bush-Hater. He used the hurricane in New Orleans as his springboard for calling out the President because in the State of the Union message, the President failed to say the words "New Orleans" or "Hurricane Katrina" !!!! He then castigates the President on the subject of Iraq making a lose and droopy connection to Hurricane Katrina along the way. I was very interested by his comment that "..to this day the effects of Hurricane Katrina are felt throughout this country." I suppose if you count the crime rates rising in cities like Houston or the welfare roles bulging in other cities that took refugees from New Orleans , you could truthfully say that the effects of Hurricane Katrina are "affecting" other parts of the United States. The letter writer ignores the facts about that hurricane and its destruction; the corrupt and inept mayor of New Orleans and the equally inept Governor of Lousiana engaged in petty political bickering while the residents who needed evacuation the most in the city were left to endure the hurricane in their homes in the lowest part of the city behind faulty levees that could never withstand a hurricane of such force as Katrina. Somehow, this is all President Bush’s fault, along the same lines of Robert Kennedy, Jr’s accusation that Hurricane Katrina was caused because President Bush failed to sign the Kyoto Treaty! I have read some pretty dopey things from such people as the letter writer but this hysteria over Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans is getting wearisome. Maybe if the people there would have showed a bit of the spirit that our North Dakota and Minnesota neighbors along the rampaging Red River in 1997 showed, they could have helped themselves out a whole lot instead of whining and blaming others for a misfortune that cannot be prevented…hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, blizzards, and earthquakes are all natural events and will continue to happen in various parts of this country and other countires as well. Carrying on for years about perceived failures of a hated President does not solve a thing. A little effort on the part of those who suffer these devastations goes a long way in recovering after such a disaster. People all over the rest of the country rushed to help New Orleans in all ways possible. Many of us sent in donations to organizations like the Red Cross, Salvation Army and other helping hands. Many others actually travelled to devasted areas to help in the clean up and the re-building. The whining about it is irrelevant and disgusting.
In what is often referred to as the "mind’s eye", I have images embedded of several cartoons that I am unable to forget. This is so much so, that when I think of those cartoons—even without seeing them again…I can burst into laughter remembering them. The oldest image comes from a "local-boy-makes-good cartoonist", who, after graduation from MSUM, went to Sacramento and began working as a professional cartoonist for one of the large Sacramento newspapers…the "SAC-Bee". His name is Paul Duginski and he was a Moorhead product; in the summer of 1978, when I was working as a Childrens’ Librarian at the Moorhead Public library, I invited Paul to do a program for the Kids’ Summer Reading Program and come in and talk about his cartooning and demonstrate his skills to them. It was the best program we had that summer and the kids absolutely loved it —and him. Later in the 1985 or 1986 college football season, the NDSU Bison played Cal-Davis in the Division 2 playoffs–at Cal-Davis. Prior to this game, there had been quite a bit of talk and quite a bit of Press about the superiority of the Cal Davis "Aggies" and how they would take care of the Bison from ND in short order….the coach at the time joined in with this chorus also…not a smart thing to do. After the Bison absolutely shellacked Cal-Davis in the playoff game at Davis, CA, Duginski did a cartoon in the Sac-Bee about the game. It pictured a maddened, stampeding Bison tearing through a farmer’s place….tearing up crops, ripping down buildings and fences, with the panicked farm family fleeing as fast as they could from the rampaging beast. The farm, of course, was labeled "Cal-Davis" and the Bison was self-evident. It was hilarious and highly satisfying to the Bison fans who saw it; it was reprinted in the local newspaper (FORUM) to the delight of the fans here in ND and MN. Number 1 unforgettable cartoon! The next one was in a Gary Larson collection (The Far Side). It showed an aged Lone Ranger, toothless , with a caved-in mouth, still wearing his mask and white hat, reading a "Dictionary Of Indian Languages". "Kimosabe"…. read the old retired Lone Ranger,silently…"a Ute word meaning ‘horse’s patoot’ " …. "What the Hey?" says the Lone Ranger as it dawns on him what his faithful companion, Tonto, had been calling him all those years. Number 2 unforgettable cartoon. The next one was published at Christmas time in a magazine of unknown origin…the cartoon was copied and sent to me by a friend and showed a most disgruntled husband, slouched crabbily in an easy chair, wearing an Archie-Bunker type undershirt with a scowl on his face. His wife is standing next to the chair—-half of a Christmas tree is protruding from the backside bottom hem of her skirt and she says to her huband, "I suppose this means you don’t want to hang a wreath on the door either??" Number 3 unforgettable cartoon. My most recent one involves reading and computers. A young boy is seated in front of an empty computer screen frame, with a book propped up behind it. The boy is reading the book and the caption says "The Ultimate Solution" Oh how I love that one! It is posted prominently on my refrigerator door’s collection of "good stuff" right in there with business cards from my sons and drawings form my grandchildren. A very yellowed newspaper cartoon used to be posted on this computer….it showed a man splitting his computer with a woodsman’s large axe and I understood perfectly the feelings generated by the frustration of a computer user new to the skill. I have lost that one but it remains in my "mind’s eye" along with the others that are unforgettable.
I am back to the cold reality of January 27, 2007 after drifting and dreaming on the last Blog about a warm day in the early 1970s when my "now-in-their-forties" boys had their zucchini wars. Today it looked for awhile like an itty-bitty blizzard was taking place with the high winds blowing the meager snow from somewhere in horizontal patterns out of the northwest. It is cold….too cold for me to venture outside and I am content staying inside, wearing a pair of summer shorts and a t-shirt while I sew in my upstairs guest bedroom/sewing room combo. It is the wamest room upstairs and is so toasty today, in spite of the cold winds, that I had to change from jeans into shorts to stay there. When the sewing is done, I will get back to my Emily Dickinson biography…ALL MY WARS ARE LAID AWAY IN BOOKS. It is a fascinating journey through the life of Emily Dickinson, who was so ably portrayed a few weeks back at the FM Community Theater’s "The Belle Of Amherst"…a one-woman cast. Meanwhile, Buffaloguy and one of the Buffalosons are down in the woods, in heavy winter clothing, boots, gloves, and all the necessary stuff to stay warm on such a day….they are wrapping precious ash trees in chicken wire to keep the beavers from sharpening their teeth on them and ruining the mature trees by stripping off all the bark. This has been a continuing saga for many years in our woods…..destruction of old trees by the furry critters whose pelts used to be sought for hats and coats that they were not a problem when we first moved to our farm. They were trapped out regularly by fur trappers who got good prices for good pelts but all that has changed and the overpopulation of beavers and other fur-bearers has rendered our woodland a ruin in many sites. We used to have the most beautiful grove of poplar trees but they are long gone, felled by the ever-diligent beavers for either food or mostly for tooth-honing. I miss going down to the poplar grove to see the first misty green of the budding trees. If only I had taken a really good photo of them while they stood—or if only I could have been a most skillful artist who could have captured that fleeting beauty that lasted only a day or two. Now I try to go in a car and see some poplar groves along Highway 10 heading west to Glyndon. If I am fortunate, and hit the "right day" I see that misty spring green that I love so much. It will be awhile before I see those April greens of the first buds on the trees. For now I look out and see the gray, black, and tawny taupe-colored landscape. It is getting lighter, longer each day and I love to watch the sun go down—it is staying up beyond 5 p.m. when only a month ago it was total darkness at that hour. The relentless and ageless seasonal cycles keep reminding us of Faithfulness at at its best. Watching the creation is endlessly fascinating—–even the beavers’ chewing of our trees can be fascinating—-when you don’t feel so irritated with all the ruined trees.
I have been looking at recipes for Quiches and have come across some that have zucchini in them. (For those who do not garden and do not know what zucchini is, it is a summer squash, long slender, green, and tasteless, unless prepared with lots of other stuff to give it a taste…it is like green vegetable tofu) But years ago when I was subscribing to ORGANIC GARDENING, making compost piles and gardening like mad each summer, I planted about 12 hills of zucchini. Go ahead…laugh, all you other zucchini planters. I had no idea what I had done until mid-July when I could not keep up with the crop of slender green zucchinis. I went to the library to get recipes for zucchini, we had sauteed zucchini every night with tomato sauce and cheese and onions, I made zucchini chocolate cake, zucchini bread, zucchini muffins….I even considered some zucchini ice cream and some zucchini meatloaf but finally I just gave up and let them grow. Have you any idea how many of these little green tasteless summer squash 12 plants can produce?? Finally, the vines were loaded with zucchinis the size of baseball bats—very fat bats. I also had over planted tomatoes, Turkish Turban squash, and most everything else in the garden…why have 3 rows of sweet corn when you can plant 12? 4 rows of carrots? …. we love carrots! 5 rows of green beans?…. I am going to freeze them for winter…..but the zucchini absolutely defeated me by late August and one day, early in the school year, my 2 school-age boys came home on the bus, changed into their play clothes and went out to find something to do. I spotted them soon after, swinging the zucchini bats at the tomatoes they were pitching at each other. They took turns politely…first one would pitch the tomatoes and the other one would hit them with the zucchini bats…the bats broke easily and splattered nicely. The tomatoes exploded when they were hit and unfortunately, both boys had played Little League Baseball, and were both good hitters. The younger one was a dead-eye pitcher also. I just let it happen. I think the youngest one was still napping at that time and thankfully, he did not get in on the slaughter of tomatoes and zucchinis. The older boys finished off the zuchhini patch, most of the tomatoes that were left, all the rotten ones lying around and came to the back door, completely coated with tomato and zuchhini mush. I could not tell who was who, because their faces were also coated. All I could see was blond hair sticking out of the smashed vegetable coatings on both boys and the toothy grins of two boys who had done much mischief and had not been stopped by their mother from doing it. I was so glad to see those green baseball bats gone. The boys undressed on the back steps, underwear and all. I think I brought a huge bucket of cold water outside for an initial soaking to get the worst of the vegetable muck out of the clothes. I cannot remember if they got clean or if they ever wore those clothes again… but it doesn’t matter. The memory of that day of zucchini/tomato mayhem is worth the loss of a couple of playclothes outfits. I am sure the boys have never forgotten it either and I am going to ask them if they remember it. Childhood memories are made of such nonsense.
I grew up with only one sister who was much younger than I was. We had no brothers. But I had 2 "brothers" later in my life; the first one was Harlan and he and I became fast friends when we were about 5 years old and lived in the same block….he, across the street from me. He was my best friend and playmate. We never fought or argued; we enjoyed each others’ company every day, walked to school together when that time came, went swimming every hot day in the summertime, played with 2 other neighborhood boys every day and generally entertained ourselves with few toys or other childhood gizmos. We did have roller skates and we did each have a bike and that took up a lot of play time but we also sat in the sandbox or on our swingset and just talked about things. Every morning, we would convene (with Denny and Jerry) and decide what we were going to play that day. Our options were large: farm, Tarzan, cowboys and indians, play in my playhouse, build a "fort", make rubber guns and have rubber gun battles, hammer " caps" or shell corn, hammer ants….our games were simple and required a lot of imagination. When the Odegaard family moved into our block we had 5 other kids to play with and we would play real games…frying pan, hide and seek, kick the can, run sheep run, baseball, but our greatest pleasure came in playing imaginary things like "farm, war, Tarzan, and Playhouse" When we got older we set up "spook houses" or "fun houses" and advertized in other blocks, charging nickels for admission. This took up 2-3 days often. Then when we were in 8th and 9th grade, Ronnie moved to town and I had two "brothers"; as we grew older we joined Luther League, church choir, played in the school band and sang in the school choir together. We were always in the same places at the same time. Avis also was part of our "family"…so now we were two brothers and two sisters in a put-together-family. Neither Harlan or Ronnie had sisters and neither Avis or I had brothers so we adopted each other. When we were old enough to drive, Harland had an old black chevy and sometimes we rode in it. Our biggest thrill was driving in the winter on the icy streets and doing a "cookie" in front of the church after choir practice. Daring! Exciting! But we had to get home and get our school work done so it did not last long. We all graduated. We all went to the same college. But when we were getting into our late teens and early 20s we did not see so much of each other in spite of being on the same campus…we all had roommates and new friends, new activities, different classes in different buildings. We were still friends but did not see each other so much. We graduated. We went our separate ways…one was a nurse in the Twin Cities, one got married and moved to Washington, one became a mathematicican with a company in Minnepolis, one went to California to teach school. We did not see each other hardly ever. But now—in the past two days—I have re-connected with my two "brothers" via e mail and it is like we have never been apart. Fifty years later we are chattering away with each other just like we did, way back when we were so young. Next summer we will see each other when Ronnie and Harlan’s class celebrates a 50 year reunion. We "girls" will go to the reunion after the Dinner is over, and get some much needed "visiting" in with our "brothers" and our other friends we have not seen for so long.Recently two schoolmates from "our time" have suffered serious health problems—1 stroke and 1 serious surgery…suddenly we are all re-connecting via e mail, keeping track of our fallen friends and praying and contacting their familie as we wait for better news. Both are doing much better…there is a chance for good recovery for both of them. It has been an amazing re-connection, not only with my 2 "brothers" but with many friends and former playmates from our old neighborhood. Blood might be thicker than water but old friendships are pretty thick also, and in the past two weeks, I have learned this well. God bless and heal you, Dave and Sara Lee; keep writing to me, Ronnie and Harlan, Butch, Mike, Patty, Lyle, and Judy….I need to hear from you now just as I needed it back in the mid -1950′s when we were all in a small school and were all inseparable.
Since I became an official Senior Citizen (qualified for Medicare) one of the options on our health plan is something called "Silver Sneakers" and it is one thing I have not tried out until today..if all goes as planned, and the creek don’t rise and the Lord is willin’. Silver Sneakers benefits allow you to show up at a place like the YMCA, the Holmes Center (D.L.) and go in free to use the facilities for excercise. So today, I am strapping on my Silver Sneakers and give it a whirl at the Holmes Center in Detroit Lakes. My friend who lives there tells me that the Holmes Center is often full of people bent on excercising as early as 5 a.m. daily. I admire those people and remember when I had that kind of zeal. In summers past (way past) I used to bounce out of bed at 5 a.m. just as the sky was getting slightly light in the east, and take a 3 mile walk on the country road or sometimes drive into town and walk a long route on the quiet streets there. The only people I encountered were those who had a paper route in the morning and they got used to seeing me stridiing healthily along their paper route streets. The past few years have seen me diminish this zealous routine, sometimes rising early (7 a.m. now) and walking briskly up and down the driveway or riding my bike up and down the same driveway. Wintertime takes a big toll…the driveway is icy, the wind is cold, and staying inside and reading or gazing out the deck window into the woods has become far preferable than braving the cold and the wind. I did go for a walk yesterday in the icy wind, but I needed to clear the cobwebs out after attending the disappointing county planning commission meeting the night before. I was very cold when I returned and decided that Silver Sneakers was the way to go…now or never…finally!! I have a book that is titled STRONG WOMEN STAY YOUNG and I know that excercise is good for me—-my whole body and especially my bones. I have an excercise video too, that I can use in my own living room but I often get teased about doing the gyrating movements on the video and I get sick of that really fast and one cannot wait for one’s spouse to leave the scene if you want to do daily excercise. Besides, there is the nagging problem of self-discipline in doing daily boring excercise inside a house that does not help me one bit. I should be tough, I should be strong willed, I should be diligent….but I am not, so far. Maybe Silver Sneakers will be so much fun that I will come out of the Holmes Center a changed and dedicated, strong woman who will stay young and be highly motivated. As me mother used to say when she was being tentative.."We’ll have to see how it goes."
I’m sure all of us have awakened some mornings feeling numb…for various reasons. I feel that way this morning mostly due to attending a Clay County Planning Commission Meeting last night. Numb is a good word this morning. With one exception, the members of the planning commission could be described with that word…numb. Watching and listening last night, I could only think of a classroom of elementary students forced to endure a boring teacher who forces them to do worksheet after worksheet and never encourages them to think or to have any vision of the future–theirs or others. With that one exceptional member, the remaining ones sit and numbly go through their "worksheets" and make critical decisions about the future of this county in a state of numb, unfeeling, and seemingly unthinking ways. That is the impression that onlookers get when attending these meetings. Last night another large CAFO-type animal barn was approved over the objections of those citizens who will be affected the most by this sort of "agriculture"….large-scale, mass- production animal agriculture in which the animals (hogs in this case) are confined in feeding operations designed for profit only. Of course you say, farmers need to make a profit. They always have, but unfortunately in the present day, those profits come at the expense of possible pollution of air, water and land from the huge amounts of animal manure that is the by-product of such large-scale animal agriculture. The applicants for these huge animal feeding operations must fill out a "worksheet" also..it is called an E.A.W. and it forces the applicants to write down plans for dealing with manure, dealing with water, air and land pollution and other crucial issues, but if the "worksheet" is merely filled out mechanically, the right answers provided (not necessarily acted upon when the operation gets going) and promises made (that will in all probability not be honored when they think no one is looking)…. the "worksheet" is merely an excercise in boredom and mechanics, like most worksheets are . But when the planning commission members act like they are merely going through the mechanical process of checking the worksheets, it is numbing to those who have a huge stake in the approval or disapproval of such applications..those who live within a quarter mile, half mile, mile…closeby, in other words….the numbness becomes something else. It is the numb feeling that your property will be devalued and there is nothing you can do to stop it happening; it is the numb feeling that wetlands might be forever polluted by manure runoff, that of course, "will never happen", according to the "worksheet". It is the numbness of watching the county planner do a power point of a "model air study" that shows no odors will go any farther than a perfunctory red "circle" surrounding the barn site that the "model air study" has "proved". It is the numb reality that this so-called "model" was done in supposedly ideal conditions with no low pressure pushing the air down to ground level on that sort of a day; it is the numb realization that the model does not take into account the prevailing winds that blow constantly in this county and surrounding areas. Never mind though—the worksheet says that everything is "all completed", "all filled out to satisfaction" and now a vote must be taken. Ho-Hum. That is what happened last night in that meeting of numbness personified. No wonder that there are many saddened citizens of Clay County this morning who are feeling numb and helpless in the face of the large animal barn juggernaut that is rolling across our county landscape, relentlessly and increasingly. Iowa and Nebraska have long ago been over-run by such juggernauts. Nebraska legislators reached the point of no more tolerance or numbness in 1983, when they successfully passed a moratorium against animal barn operations that exceeded 1000 animals per building. It was a nice try to stop the juggernaut but much had been done already that could not be undone. Now a recent Nebraska law has repealed that moratorium. More numbness, I suppose. I fear for our beautiful county of Clay….it has always been an agricultural county, but not in the way that large agriculture now defines itself. The sort of agriculture that this county had for decades upon decades did not do harm to its neighbors; it did not cause possible wholesale pollution of streams, lakes, rivers, air, and aquifers as this "new modern agriculture" has the potential to do. The worst part of it is this: there is very good technology for preventing such disasters and discomforts, but those who engage in this sort of agriculture do not WANT to invest in anything like that…it interferes with their sacred profits….but in not doing so it can harm their neighbors in ways that are hard to define in the end. The simple installation of bio-filters on air exhaust systems can eliminate the problem of the horrible odors that are very much a part of barns with hundreds of animals….but there are no such bio-filters in any large CAFO type barns in Clay County to my knowledge. (a CAFO is a "concentrated animal feeding operation") The definition of being a "good neighbor" is forever re-defined. Selfishness and Self-Centeredness trumps the concern or care of those who live closest to your "farm". Gone are those days, forever it seems.
So I live with numbness today and so do many others among the ordinary citizens of Clay County. Apparently those who make such decisions are not bothered by their chronic numbness of mind and spirit when it comes to the ethical treatment of their fellow citizens who must occupy the enviroment they capriciously choose to alter in one simple "vote".
I hunt without a license quite often these days. I don’t like doing it but it is necessary. I am in the stage of life when I lay things down and suddenly cannot find the object I laid down–usually somewhere in the house. Right now I am baffled by the disappearance of a cloth bag which contains some very important photos of our oldest granddaughter taken the night she took her bows as "Cinderella" in her high school musical in November. I had them on Friday when I searched for an appropropriate frame; I have called the "frame store" and am assured I did not lay them down there. Now I just have to accidentally stumble across that cloth bag. I have many pairs of "dollar store" glasses around here also but am only able to lay my hands on two of them. As I type this, my Buffaloguy is searching for his address book…. but I could never find anything on the top of his desk either. That is another whole subect and I am not going there now. I still have not found a county plat book that I laid down somewhere last October. Several years ago, I could not find a bag with 3 beautiful bathrobes for my daughters in law. I intended to use them for Christmas gifts and had to buy alternative gifts that year due to the myserious missing bag of bathrobes. I found them about a year and a half later–in the exact closet I thought I had searched so well….I shamefacedly admitted my "losing them" and gave them as gifts that year! Sometimes it bothers me terribly and I think I am becoming a dementia victim but I hear from so many other friends that they do the same thing and I am still able to do all sorts of things and think all sorts of things that would indicate that I am not missing any of my "marbles" just yet. I love the story about the man who was eager to tell his friend about a New York musical he and his wife had seen on a recent trip to the Big Apple. Then he could not think of the name of the musical and after giving it several tries finally said, "what do you call that flower that is dark red, has a long stem and has thorns?" His friend gave him the prompt he needed with the word, "Rose". The other man immediately shouted, "Rose! What was the name of that musical we saw in New York?" I love it! I had the unexpected pleasure of getting back another cloth bag I could not find…this one had an important list of addresses in it when I suddenly could not locate it. Once, much later, after purchasing stamps at at the nearby post office, I went back inside when I realized I had left another bag on the counter while paying for the stamps. The postmistress asked me, "Are you missing a purple bag?" I nearly fell over because it had been months since I had seen the purple one. After saying that I HAD misplaced a bag like that, she walked over to a shelf and brought my purple bag to the counter. Halllelujah! The lost has been found! Now if I can just find that OTHER bag with the pictures in it. I hate being this kind of Bag Lady.
I had to go to the Clay County Courthouse this morning to get my drivers’ license renewed and as I headed westward on Highway 10 I took note again, as I have done so often, of the three major descents into the Red River Valley that one must make. It is truly driving into a the lake—-the ancient lakebed of glacial Lake Agassiz. Returning and traveling east on Highway 10 out of Moorhead, the process is reversed and one notes the three major ascents out of the lakebed. This is something that I have done for nearly all of my life in Clay County….driven in and out of that old lake bottom thousands of times but never realized what the ancient landscape must have been like…until as an adult, I began to notice things…like the obvious "beaches" that run north and south of the entrance to the Buffalo River State Park just east of Glyndon MN. Also there are the hundreds of pock-marks on the land left by gravel extractions in many, many old and newer pits. There is the mainly unproductive land that is near the "beaches" and is good for pastureland and for growing a lot of poplar trees and willows; huge rock piles accumulate at corners of fields that have been cleared for generations since early pioneers began to till the soil. Some of the rocks are so huge that one wonders how they ever got removed in the pioneer days. There is a rock in a pasture northwest of Hawley that is called the "Buffalo Rock" because it shows signs of buffalo circling it, using it as "scratching place" and wearing a deep, still-visible rut in the earth around it. The Buffalo Rock is incredibly large… towering over the surrounding grassland, fun to crawl on by little kids, a good resting place for hikers and walkers in that area. All of these signs show the long-ago lake—glacial Lake Agassiz that was bigger at its zenith than all of today’s Great Lakes put together (according to Wikpedia). The lake formed when the monstrous, deep glaciers of the last Ice Age began to melt and recede after covering the entire northern hemisphere of North America, probably all of northern Asia and northern Europe and all the northern islands like Greenland. Wikpedia speaks in terms of thousands of years ago when referring to the age of glaciers and the resulting melt when the climate began to warm up again. There is a reference to wooly mammoths roaming the ancient shores of Lake Agassiz and early humans pursing them in hunting parties. It is also highly likely that a land bridge linked northern Siberia with present-day Alaska during the time that the oceans were so low as a result of the Ice Age…it was probably the route that ancient people traveled into what is now North America. A map shows the glacial lake covering all of Manitoba, all of Saskatchewan, western Ontario, and northern Minnesota and North Dakota. The remnants of this gigantic lake are Lake Winnipeg, Lake Manitoba, Lake of the Woods, the Red River, the Assiniboine River, and the Minnesota River—all left-overs from the massive drainage of the monster lake. Now we drive in and out of the old lakebed which is covered with a deep rich black loamy soil, planted each summer in the Red River Valley to crops that grow so easily in that black soil. The Valley rises in ascents out of Fargo to the west also, so that by the time you are at Valley City, high hills replace the flat terrained old lakebed. Next time you travel west out of Detroit Lakes or east out of Fargo Moorhead, take a good look at the terrain—you, too, will see the beaches where the ancient lake lapped and formed sand dunes, you will see the 3 major descents/ascents from the lake. There is one high point just west of Hawley where you can see the skyline of F-M even in the daytime, and really see the lights of the cities along the Red River in the night. What spectacular ancient earth history we live in!
Even after retirement, Saturday gets to be a welcomed day in our home overlooking the Buffalo River Valley. Pretty early on, for a Saturday morning, "The Fights" have to be watched. This euphemism is used to describe the "McLoughlin Report" in which 4 nationally known newspaper or magazine writers sit on a panel chaired by the crusty John McLoughlin; it rapidly turns into the "fights"…especially between Eleanor Clift and Tony Blankley. From listening to them go after each other, one would imagine that as soon as the TV cameras were off, they would be body-slamming each other on the carpeting between the panel’s chair arrangement…east is east and west is west and never the twain shall meet could also be interpreted Eleanor is Eleanor and Tony is Tony and never the two shall agree. McLoughlin, the supposed referee always favors Eleanor and in spite of the fact that she rudely interrupts the other people, McLoughlin consistently will say to the interrupted one, "let Eleanor finish". I wonder if she would continue with her diatribes if she could her her own shrill "harpy" voice? I thnk she would. Then at 9 a.m. the two brothers from "Hah-vahd Sqah-uh" light up the radio waves on NPR and entertain for an hour as "Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers" on "Car Talk". This is Buffaloguy’s forte but I listen also and am amazed at what I have learned about cars and their care and keeping. It is mainly the laughter, the constant verbal sparring and the callers that entertain me…especially the callers who make very good imitations of sounds their cars make when thing are going wrong. I always wait to see if Tommy and Ray (their real names…. with an unpronounceable Italaian surname) will get a caller named "Donna"(Dawn-uh" or Katherine..with a K or with a C??? They can go on and on about those two names. Later the 3 "grand-babies"(not a good term anymore for ages 15,12, and 9-year olds) from Fargo arrive with their dad to have fun outside and in the woods below our home. Yesterday we built a roaring bonfire down by the river and roasted hot dogs over it. Nothing tastes as good as a blackened weiner on a bun when it is eaten outside! Yesterday we took a walk through the woods on the frozen "dead" river. The first mission was to have a look at the two oldest trees on our land that Grampa has identified. Two ash trees—-enormous at the bases—must be way over 100 years old if Grampa is correct…he remembers Great-Grampa (my dad) counting the rings on a felled ash tree years ago and that tree was 115 years old— not nearly as big as these two giants are. The kids, of course, tried to put their arms around the trunks with no success—-way too big! Then we set out to have a look at what we call the "deer barn", an area so thick with wild reed canary grass that it truly resembles a roofless barn where deer bed down in cold weather. It is as good as it gets for wildlife in our woods….many protected places for animals when the going gets tough in the cold months of winter. We looked for signs of the otters that live down there also, but were distracted by exploring our old skating rink place from about 5 years ago when another mild winter with little snow allowed us to keep a large skating rink cleared for many weeks that December and January. We did see plenty of animal tracks–from tiny mice to weasel to fox to deer to some sort of dog-like animal–probably coyotes who have been heard "singing" in our neighborhood at night. One horrible winter killed all of the coyotes off when they all had mange and that is deadly for a wild dog in a cold winter. Now they are back—I have mixed feelings about their presence—but they are back probably eating huge qunatities of mice and rabbits if they can catch them. The deer are in no danger with the light snow covering…a deer can outrun most anything if not hampered by deep snow. We also spotted a lot of "woodpecker trees" which are dead and riddled with woodpecker holes from their searching for insects in the dead wood. We hear a lot of woodpecker rat-a tat-tatting in the summertime. So life goes on in the woodlands and Saturdays come and go—-but it is always special on Saturdays, around here.