Monday, July 12, 2010

Cool off with a ground blizzard

We arrive early on Sunday, February 14, 2010, to perform a one-hour show for the annual meeting of the Stevens County Historical Society at their new Museum in Morris, MN.  After we locate the new Stevens County Museum, we decide we have time for a little trip down memory lane to view the place where we farmed for 5 years during my first teaching job.  As we head northwest out of Morris, Nancy says, "The sun may be shining, but in the open spaces this wind creates a ground blizzard, and we may not be able to see the farm, let alone take a picture."
 We turn west off the highway onto a gravel road and I say, "I'm wishing we had just stayed in town where there is no blowing snow. People living in Morris will come to the meeting, but I'll bet this weather will keep people in their houses if they live in the country."

We approach the farm and for a moment our trip is worth the risk. The wind is quiet south of the tall wind break.
"Look at how the trees we planted have grown!" Nancy remarks.
"You could see over the tops of the tiny trees from the road to the house when we sold it in 1978," I add.

As we head west we take another parting shot at the farmstead where we once worked raising cattle, hogs and grain.

Then we turn south toward Alberta, the town where I taught high school English from 1973-1978. The ground blizzard is worse. "Let's not go the extra 12 miles round trip to Chokio," I suggest. "Let's just get back to Morris as soon as possible."

The wind blows only lightly in Alberta so we take a  picture of the old school, which is no longer used as a high school, and the town hall, where I directed several of the high school plays.

Since the high school drama organization was the exclusive occupant of the town hall, we were free to change the stage and seating to suit the play. I very much enjoyed directing and assisting with plays at the facility, and the kids, of course, were great.

We unload at the new museum, which has an elevator to the second floor. We set up our equipment to the wonderful odor of roast beef, potatoes, and carrots cooking in a crock pot. Randee Hokanson, the Museum's  Director and Exhibit Designer who organized the event, invites us to feast with them before the show. After inhaling those great cooking smells for half an hour, Nancy and I agree immediately.

The new addition to the museum blends perfectly with the old charm of the original museum while providing a beautiful modern space with all the appropriate conveniences. Before dinner, we explore the museum's exhibits that cover a wide range of tools and clothing used by the hard-working men and women of the prairie farm country.

The dinner is a sit-down affair with a nice table cloth, but the members, treat us  like a couple of their own and Nancy and I enjoy the food and conversation as we witness a good deal of good-natured kidding among the members.
I soon discover members include college professors from  the U of M in Morris, agriculture college graduates, and farmers and merchants from the area. I decide it is a pretty distinguished audience and vow to do my best to entertain them.
As you can see, though, they are a kindly audience, who treat me with great warmth despite the nasty cold outside.
As people finish eating the annual meeting begins, which lasts about half an hour. Then they introduce me.

I show pictures of the past during my introduction and prologue; I show illustrations from my books as I recite my stories; and I answer a few questions after the show.

The weather tries to hurry our departure, but we gladly stay to chat with people, sell a few books, and snap a few pictures of people who worked hard to organize the event.

After swapping stories about the present and past, we reluctantly pack up and prepare to leave. Everyone wishes us a safe trip home as we say goodbye.
As we drive east towards hilly country, the wind blows less snow. We enjoy a safe trip home. Round-trip distance: 383 miles.

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson

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