Country Scribe : Eric Bergeson's Weblog

August 13, 2005

Open House II

Here is neighbor Roxanna, left, with my mother just after the Open House started this morning. It was dark and cool, but we went through almost 500 donuts by 1 p.m.

Open House

Here is Cassio with Gladys, a good customer. Earlier this spring, Gladys asked Cassio where our workshop was, meaning where we were going to hold the seminar. Well, Cassio dragged Gladys out to our shop and showed it to her, much to Gladys' puzzlement.

Well, that was good for a laugh--although I think Cassio blushed today when we recalled the story--so perhaps I shouldn't repeat it so often! He's a good sport, though.

THE OPEN HOUSE at the gardens today has been successful, despite the cool weather. In fact, the cool weather felt pretty good. The line at the ice cream stand has been steady all day. There have been hundreds of people.

We have been playing music every two hours. For the two o'clock show, Joe asked Ike and Phyllis from Crookston, a couple who jammed with us earlier this spring, to come down and play. They are in entertaining right now, and they doing a great job. My voice is shot, so I'd rather be done for the day.

August 12, 2005

Class yet again

This is proving to be an exhausting week. Seven hours of history seminar per day has exhausted me. I sleep two hours every evening right after I get home, and I am still spent.

In the end, I think it is a healthy exercise. I have learned quite a lot of history, and I have learned some things about teaching as well.

Right now, the other "guest scholar" and I have dispatched the students to small groups--a very easy way of getting rid of the responsibility for keeping group discussion going, to be sure, but also a useful way of breaking down the materiel. They each will study one piece and come back with their conclusions.

So, I have a minute to write a weblog entry.

IT LOOKS LIKE THERE will be good weather tomorrow for the open house at the nursery. I think we will have a pretty good crowd. Things are ready. Dot has dolled up the sales area. The gardens are looking sharp. Stop by if any of you are in the area!

August 10, 2005

Perfect August day

Hated to spend the day inside a classroom, but the evening more than compensated. I took a long bike ride as the sun went down--beautiful. The gardens are beautiful as well, especially in the evening. They should utterly be at their peak on Saturday for the open house.

I don't notice until I drive around that most of the lawns are brown. Dad has been keeping the gardens green with the irrigation system--the grass is in perfect health. I take it for granted until I drive off the nursery and see what the grass looks like elsewhere.

Early this morning--just at sunrise--I heard a racket out on the swamp. I looked out to see one swan fly from one end of the swamp to the other. Then it flew back, found its mate, and did some sort of dance where they faced each other, flapped their wings, and then raised their heads up and down. Bizarre. Didn't see the young ones around. Perhaps they weren't supposed to be watching.

I guess the adults molt at different times so that there always is one swan who is able to fly. The young ones don't have enough feathers to get off the ground yet, and if one of the adults is molting, that leaves only one swan out of nine who can fly. I guess I don't know what good that does--if he can go to town for supplies or just what.

Cassio has company tonight--Harold, the first farmer he worked for, is visiting. Harold retired from farming this past year. Now he is learning the internet. Right now, Cassio is training him on how to chat on the internet so that when Cassio goes back to Brazil he and Harold can still visit.

Earlier in the day, Harold took Cassio on a tour of Itasca. I should have taken Cassio there long ago--but the days fly by.

Class went fine today. Utterly exhausting. I came home and took a long nap. I don't know how I would have done if I had actually had to go to Devils Lake and perform.

Saved by the blog

After reading my post about going to Devils Lake, weblog reader Irene wrote that I was scheduled to be in Devils Lake the 17th of August, not tonight. So I went on the web and sure enough, we would have been playing for an empty auditorium tonight. Thanks, Irene!

August 09, 2005

Scene from Union Lake

This will seem a distant memory next January.

Dot and Henry's boathouse


This conversation had nothing to do with politics, religion or car bargains, as you might imagine it would--instead, fellow raspberry growers Gary, left, and Chuck, right, discuss their trade at the company picnic on Sunday. Both Chuck and Gary helped out at the nursery this spring, but they spend much more time tending their own extensive gardens.

Class again

Another day of class, and an exhausting one. We discussed religion and public policy for roughly five hours. Although it is a topic that is relevant and interesting, it was difficult after a while to keep things going without the sense that we were beating a dead horse.

Tomorrow, the schedule gets more rigorous: I am at the seminar in Thief River Falls from 8 a.m. through 3 p.m. Then I go to Devils Lake, ND to perform for a Chautauqua. Brother Joe will join me in Grand Forks and will perform in Devils Lake with me. Having him along takes quite a bit of the pressure off since then I know I will have enough material.

After Devils Lake, it is back to TRF for Thursday morning at eight o'clock.

This Saturday is the open house at the gardens. We will have homemade ice cream, other food items and even a couple of booths of stuff for sale. The gardens are at their peak. Joe and I are performing music three times--at ten, noon and two.

That is enough for today!

August 08, 2005


I left before seven this morning for Thief River Falls. I am one out of two guest scholars in a continuing education seminar for literature and social studies teachers. I believe we have about fifteen in the class.

We were to do readings online before the class. The morning was spent discussing the readings. The afternoon was spent attempting to apply those readings to a classroom setting.

I assumed responsibility for moving the class along, for deciding issues like how long the noon hour would go, and so on. I usually end up in that role anyway, so I just grabbed it out of the chute.

The participants get continuing ed credits from the week-long seminar. I don't know quite what that means--I suspect it is necessary to advance their standing on the pay scale.

The enthusiasm for the seminar varies widely. There are no grades given. If the participants show up, they will get the credit. It was clear that some hadn't done any of the reading and were just putting in their time. I will have to get over any concern I might have that they are getting off easy--because clearly, if they want to get off easy, they will. It simply isn't my concern. My concern is to make the class productive for those who want to learn something.

We have some interesting people in the class with some good perspectives. The other "visiting scholar" is talkative and full of ideas.

At the end of the day, I found that I had enjoyed myself. It went well. I encouraged them to do the thirty pages of reading which we will be discussing tomorrow. We will see. We will be discussing the role of religion in the early republic. What were the attitudes of the Founding Fathers towards religion? We will discuss the writings of Jefferson, Madison, Adams and others.

One the way home, it hit me that we are sliding into my favorite time of year. Things are ripening! The air is thick with wheat dust. I am not allergic to wheat dust, so that's no problem. It is when the ragweed pollen comes out that I go absolutely crazy. So for now, I can enjoy the thick air, the dust and fog as the evening cools, the tans mixed with the greens.

Cassio and I went for an 8-mile bike ride tonight. What a throwback to old times! I used to ride bike on these roads all of the time as a kid--it really has been 20 years since I have lived at the nursery. Now I am back to childhood, riding out on the tar road in the rich summer evenings, hearing the crickets, the tractors, the birds, the whir of the spokes.

August 07, 2005

Problem in the gardens

We thought we could get by without spraying the gardens for Red Hats this year, but as you can see, they have gotten out of control and probably now it is too late.

Party for Cassio and Dot and Henry's lake place

Here Aaron, the biggest one of the bunch, takes a flying leap into the arms of the rest of the guys at the party at Dot's place this afternoon. Dot has had a party at her place a couple of times for the crew at the nursery, and they are always great fun. This year, she decided to make it a going away party for Cassio as well.

We played volleyball on the lawn for a long time. A group went out on the pontoon courtesy of Henry. Some fished from the dock. Others swam. And finally, there was water skiing. Cassio has been bugging Dad all week to water ski this weekend. Cassio absolutely loves the lake and waterskiing, so this was a big event for him. He tried to get me to ski, but that was futile.

So, here is Dad after a successful trip around the lake which ended on his own terms right by the dock. According to him, it was the first time he had water skiied in over forty years.

The spread was summery and scrumptious. Here is the fruit tray.