Country Scribe : Eric Bergeson's Weblog

July 30, 2005

Shores of Superior

Here is a picture of the waves hitting the shore of Lake Superior. The surf got higher as the day progressed. Lance and I drove up Lutsen Mountain, then up to Grand Marias. They were having boat races with huge crews of men manning oars.


Wedding on the sea



Here is cousin Ben with the Justice of the Peace, who fulfilled her purpose of executing the ceremony while keeping the mumbo jumbo to a minimum. She performed the ceremony while her husband waited in the car. The main problem was getting her up and down the stairs.

I was relieved not to have to perform the ceremony. By the way, I did not go on the internet and get ordained. It just didn't feel right. And it all seemed quite complicated--it took about ten minutes to fill out the paperwork, and she was experienced at it.



Here Ben and Kristin exchange vows in Tofte Cove on Lake Superior. The weather was utterly perfect. I snapped 280 pictures in hopes that a few might add to the ones Lance was taking. A photographer for the resort showed up as well--apparently, they wanted some pictures for their pamphlets. Well, he got to enjoying himself and stayed for the entire ceremony as well as the meal afterwards.

The room where the meal was to be held was occupied by another wedding party, so our wedding party--all fourteen of us--sat in the bar--which overlooked the lake--and watched the Twins lose to the Red Sox. Interesting because Kristin's parents are from Connecticut and her father is clearly a Red Sox fan.

Today, it is cloudy. The waves from the lake have been getting higher all morning, and they are pounding the rocks fifty feet from our windows. It is a dramatic seaside scene, only six hours from Fertile.


July 29, 2005

North Shore, aborted call to the ministry

Hello from Bluefin Bay, about 80 miles up the North Shore Drive from Duluth. Lance and I are attending my cousin Ben's wedding. Lance is the photographer. I am along for the ride--which means four nights at the beautiful Bluefin Bay Resort overlooking Lake Superior. It is quite a place.

I nearly had a role to play in the ceremony; the Justice of the Peace was not answering her phone, and she is apparently quite aged, so Ben emailed me to see if I would go on the Internet and get ordained so I could perform the ceremony. I had my sermon all ready to go, but then the JOP came through before I could start shopping for clerical collars. Oh well.


July 27, 2005

Birds on the swamp

I have neglected to pass on how much fun I it has been to sit in the crow's nest and watch the birds. There has been a great blue heron hanging around, and this morning there was a pair of them. Tonight, I saw a bird that I have seen a couple of times before--but tonight it was close enough to identify unmistakably as a green heron, which is a very different animal than the blue. Actually, is feathers are rusty on the neck, green on the wings. Beautiful.

The Sibley's bird guide says the green heron is "secretive and solitary." That makes the discovery more fun.

A couple of feet from my head in the crow's nest, in the peak of the house, are the inevitable barn swallows. Never thought I would enjoy barn swallows, but they put on quite a show as they swoop up to their nest just in front of my face. They are constantly on the move.

The swans have been a bit elusive, although they came out in the open for a while yesterday--long enough for me to establish that there still are seven young ones who now appear to be about two-thirds of the way to mature size.

Just as I was writing this, a giant blue heron flapped its wings on the opposite end of the swamp. They are clearly made to be disguised by their favorite habitat--dead trees--and they are nearly impossible to spot until they move, which isn't so often. When I put the binocs on them, there was another green heron. And--it appears that one of the young swans has decided to sit alone in the middle of that end of the swamp as well.

I haven't said anything about the many varieties of smaller birds which flit around the ground down below. Many of them have shades of yellow. Some are goldfinches, others I have not yet identified.

Whoops--what I thought was a baby swan started wading around and it is a heron. Also, the green heron came in front of the house and caught a frog and spent a while trying to swallow it. And, as I looked in the binocs, I found two more blue herons. All of this activity on a swamp which looks empty when you first glance at it.

Now, a few minutes after it was raining, the sun broke through in the west. A vivid rainbow appeared. The white heads of the heron were illuminated beautifully by the setting sun. The whole scene lasted about five minutes, as the sun was setting quickly.

Put my head into the bird guide for two minutes, looked up, and the whole scene was gone.


Birds on the swamp

I have neglected to pass on how much fun I it has been to sit in the crow's nest and watch the birds. There has been a great blue heron hanging around, and this morning there was a pair of them. Tonight, I saw a bird that I have seen a couple of times before--but tonight it was close enough to identify unmistakably as a green heron, which is a very different animal than the blue. Actually, is feathers are rusty on the neck, green on the wings. Beautiful.

The Sibley's bird guide says the green heron is "secretive and solitary." That makes the discovery more fun.

A couple of feet from my head in the crow's nest, in the peak of the house, are the inevitable barn swallows. Never thought I would enjoy barn swallows, but they put on quite a show as they swoop up to their nest just in front of my face. They are constantly on the move.

The swans have been a bit elusive, although they came out in the open for a while yesterday--long enough for me to establish that there still are seven young ones who now appear to be about two-thirds of the way to mature size.

Just as I was writing this, a giant blue heron flapped its wings on the opposite end of the swamp. They are clearly made to be disguised by their favorite habitat--dead trees--and they are nearly impossible to spot until they move, which isn't so often. When I put the binocs on them, there was another green heron. And--it appears that one of the young swans has decided to sit alone in the middle of that end of the swamp as well.

I haven't said anything about the many varieties of smaller birds which flit around the ground down below. Many of them have shades of yellow. Some are goldfinches, others I have not yet identified.

Whoops--what I thought was a baby swan started wading around and it is a heron. Also, the green heron came in front of the house and caught a frog and spent a while trying to swallow it. And, as I looked in the binocs, I found two more blue herons. All of this activity on a swamp which looks empty when you first glance at it.


Gluten

Here is a story on the increased number of food products available for those who are intolerant of gluten. Both my sister Tracie and brother Joe have gone completely gluten-free after years of suffering digestive problems.

Gluten-free foods have relevance for our local economy. AURI in Crookston, a research station based at the UMC campus, is specializing in manufacturing and marketing gluten-free foods. There is potential for factories which produce gluten-free foods--pasta, for example--in the local area.


Denver Norskes

Got an email from the Denver, CO branch of the Sons of Norway. They would like me to come speak and sing there September 19 for their "Minnesota Days." That works out well; I will be traveling out west anyway. I had planned to come back sooner, and a different route, but this gives me a good excuse to extend my trip and get paid for it. A guilt free vacation, if it all works out.

Cassio, Raciel and I will be leaving the first of September, working our way through some of the famous landmarks of the west before arriving in San Francisco September 9th.

BUSES have started coming on a daily basis--most from various retirement centers in the area. The gardens are now in full bloom and people are enjoying them. Today, I am storekeeping. Not too tough an assignment.


Twins skid

Randy Johnson shut out the Twins last night. It is always galling to lose to the Yanks. Bret Boone has been a flop. What's more, there's already rumblings that his arrogance is rubbing his teamates the wrong way. He's lost his touch in the field and at bat, but he still seems to think he's a big star. I look for the Twins to get rid of him soon.

This team should be able to hit. Stewart, Mauer, Morneau, Hunter, Jones, Ford--all are better hitters than they have been showing in the past six weeks. Baseball is a funny game. Entire teams can fall into long slumps. The Twins' hitters sure have.
They have the potential to come out of it in a hurry, but I am not betting on it.


July 25, 2005

Day brightener



If a basket of red geraniums glowing in the setting sun doesn't cheer you up...


Rug snag

Friend Dale, an avid hunter, has a bearskin rug made out of the skin of a record-breaking bear he shot with his bow up by Grygla somewhere. His trailer house doesn't have a space large enough to display the rug, so he wondered if I might want to borrow it for a while for use in the Swamp Castle.

Of course, I said sure. It will go right in front of the fireplace.

Tonight he called with the news that he ran into a problem. He decided to cut the largest claw off the bear and make it into a necklace which he would wear for luck while hunting. After his hunting days are over, he would pass it on to a member of the subsquent generation.

So, he got out the utility knife and was hacking away without much luck when the knife slipped, went through the rug and deep into his leg.

He was bleeding like a stuck pig, so he wrapped the wound in duct tape and went to the doctor. They stapled it shut, which means he has to go back for another visit to get the staples out--which will probably be another $69.

I don't know if he ever got the claw off, but I don't think I'll get the rug until he does.

The next problem: Dale hunts deer with the bow and with rifle during the season, but out of season he hunts them with his video camera. However, the camera has been acting up. The toll free number for Sony doesn't answer. And there's a big buck he wants to video.

So, I had him read me the error message on the screen--C21:3. I typed it in Google, and up came testimonies from all kinds of people who had the same problem.

The solution? More than five people on the message board had simply slapped the camera several times from all angles and it cured the problem. So, while we were on the phone, Dale slapped the camera--and it worked.

Ah, the wonders of the internet.


Gardens in evening

The sun poked through tonight after the rain. It seems the best color happens when the sun breaks through late and the sky overhead is still cloudy.



The celosia are particularly resplendent in the evening sun. The heat of the past few weeks has caused them to thrive.



Here is a closeup of the cockscomb type of celosia. I can't get it out of my head that it looks like a brain.



Asparagus make a nice ornamental once their foliage matures.


July 24, 2005

Halstad Class of 1952

Yesterday, I went over to Halstad for the afternoon where they were holding an all-school reunion. I went to meet with the starting five of the 1952 Halstad basketball team. The team got third in the state tournament--before there were any classes. Later that spring, the same bunch of guys won the state baseball title.

A few months ago, a gentleman named Clarence, also a graduate of Halstad but seven years later and now a lawyer in Iowa wrote me wondering if I would consider a writing project. He said I didn't have to decide at the time, but he felt that the story of this tiny town winning the baseball title was worth recording, and he wondered if I would be willing to meet with the athletes during the reunion. I said I would.

Clarence set up a very well-organized afternoon. I arrived at his 93-year-old mother's apartment at one in the afternoon. Sitting on a desk in the living room were stacks of scrapbooks. Clarence had asked the athletes to bring in their clippings, and they did. In fact, some of them copied off the clippings ahead of time. I was to mark the clippings I wanted copied. At 3 p.m., as scheduled, a young man came and picked up the marked scrap books and took them to make copies. Meanwhile, Clarence and the athletes arrived.

I was to conduct the interview. My goal was to get them telling stories. I wanted to find out if there was enough there for a book. It didn't take them long to get going, and filling the two hours was no problem. I recorded the session on video so I didn't have to take notes.

Fascinating. I won't go into details--I could go on all night--but I do think there is a story there. Now, it is to jostle it around a bit until I can get an angle on it.

When the meeting was scheduled to end, the young man came back with the copies and handed the scrapbooks to the athletes before they took off. A professional photographer arrived to take pictures. Clarence and I went on to another meeting he had set up of athletes and others. I met some more people, and then I went to the community dinner.

I ended up with two hours of tape and stacks upon stacks of copies of clippings. It felt good to get back into old newspapers again--it brought me back to grad school history research. This project would be similar to that research--except I would be able to visit with the players and clarify things as I went along.

Soon, I will have all of their email addresses and phone numbers. All of them were very willing to talk further and they seem very interested in seeing the project proceed.

It is the sort of pressure which just might get me to do the project--knowing that there are people with an interest in seeing it finished.

The sports part of the story is compelling enough. However, I think there is a larger story there as well. Halstad, like most small towns around here, has changed so drastically since 1952 as to be unrecognizable. I see the immediate post-war era as the glory years of the prairie farm towns. Things weren't quite so desperate as during the earlier years, and the farm population and small town business climate had not yet began to decline. There was a thriving culture of organizations and gatherings which had not yet been decimated by the effects of easy transportation and television.

The five players I met brimmed with the confidence I see as typical of people who matured in small towns during that time.

The trick would be to tell the story through details and specific events--not by laying out broad theories as I just have. Collecting those details and lining them up into a convincing and compelling story is the work of any historian.

AS I WRITE THIS IN THE CROW'S nest, a storm is rumbling outside. I can see the lightning vividly through the big windows. Rain is tapping on the roof. A nice end to a very beautiful July day.

I have tomorrow's column written, but it is one of those I would like to sleep on before mailing it out.