Country Scribe : Eric Bergeson's Weblog

June 29, 2006

Long summer days

At ten o'clock this evening, there was still light in the northwest. By five o'clock tomorrow morning, there will be light in the northeast.

In the past, I have felt frustration at not being able to drink in June. Everything grows so fast. There is so much to get done just to keep ahead of the growth, one doesn't have time to enjoy the green and the sunshine and the birds.

Well, I am no longer frustrated. I feel I am fully enjoying this time of year. It has to do, in part, with getting older. One is not so restless. You realize you're never going to get everything done, anyway. It also has to do with this house, which lets the outdoors in.

AND it helps that the Twins are on an impossible roll, the best stretch they have had since June of 1991, if my memory is correct. Fifteen out of sixteen! How can a Twins fan not be in heaven?

Leo is following Brazil's quest for the World Cup of soccer. Brazil plays France on Saturday. Brazil is the favorite to win it all, although the competition is tough. Fortunately, the Cup games are on television so Leo can partake in Brazil's national sport from the Swamp.

Next week is the Fertile (Polk County) Fair. The fair is a busy time. We haul in all sorts of plants and Dot decorates the log cabin with a different theme every year. This year, it is "Birds and Butterflies." (My "Birds and the Bees" proposal didn't fly.)

June 28, 2006

Swamp Battle

Ma swan hisses off the cheeky red-winged black bird. The swans are constantly harassed by the blackbirds, who don't seem aware of their severe disadvantage in size.

The red-winged blackbirds are the bane of the swamp. They chase the other birds with a vengeance, and can react to every acrobatic maneuver of their victim. I haven't seen them catch anything yet; I assume they are just trying to frighten away competition.

Red Hats

No red hair in Fertile like the woman's below, but we do have Red Hats.

Two years ago, the Fertile Red Hats came to the nursery to visit the gardens in August. I was supposed to speak to them, I believe, but two things happened: My unassembled house arrived on two flatbed semis, and a Greyhound bus full of gardeners from Fergus Falls left on the wrong road and ended up buried up to the axles in what is now my living room.

So, I didn't have time to speak to the Red Hats. In return, though, I said I would give them a tour of my house when it was finished.

They called last week to take me up on the offer, and they appeared today.

June 27, 2006

More NYC pictures

A friend of mine once said you could stand on any given street corner in New York City for twenty-four hours an not be bored. Exhausted, maybe, but never bored. Here are some pictures I took from a single spot near Columbus Circle at the southwest corner of Central Park.

These two towers would dominate the skyline of most other cities; in New York, they are two of literally hundreds of impressive skyscrapers. One reason there are so many skyscrapers in Manhattan is that the island amounts to exposed bedrock. You couldn't build a single skyscraper in Fargo because there is no bedrock available--just hundreds of feet of muck. I think the Radisson in Fargo is the biggest building you could build around here, and that required them to sink columns several hundred feet down.

A tram driver awaits business on Columbus Circle.

You don't see this sort of hair in Northwestern Minnesota. Let's see what we can do about that.

Twins roll

Wow. Liriano pitched as usual, Mauer had five hits and the Twins pounded the Dodgers 9-2. The Twins have won fifteen out of their last seventeen games--without moving up in the standings one inch, since both the Tigers and the White Sox have compiled the same record.

Well, I don't care. It doesn't matter if the Twins make the playoffs. They are going to be fun to watch this season no matter what. Santana pitches tomorrow at noon.

MY PROJECT for the past few days has been clearing brush and sawing down box elder and ash which have grown up amidst a long row of silver maple planted by Grandpa over sixty years ago. The maples have always formed a wall at the south end of our yard. Now they are getting old and grand, and I want to see their trunks. The row runs about 150 yards, and if I get everything cleared I think it will look grand.

This project makes me want to retire and do nothing but projects like clearing brush. And reading. And writing. But spare me answering the phone and dealing with the public. I want to hide.

Of course, after a long winter, I am ready to deal with the public again and would be lost without a busy season to look forward to.

June 26, 2006

Visiting the Hilton

Today was a scheduled visit to Aunt Olla at the Fertile Hilton. As is customary, the agenda was set ahead of time and only gradually revealed to me during the course of the visit.

First, there were some articles and letters for me to read. Included was an article written by a vitamin doctor Olla patronizes via mail, Julian Whittaker. He wrote that one beer a day was good for a person. Olla hoped that I would include this in my weblog, especially in light of her getting carded while trying to buy beer at the Pizza Hut last month. I think she was hoping that everybody who had lost faith in her due to the beer purchase would think she was only doing it for her health.

In fact, Olla's mother, at her doctor's urging, drank a case of beer during her pregnancy with Olla. We figure that is why she turned out the way she did.

But--this evening Olla called saying that I shouldn't quote the letter directly for reasons of plagiarism. Then she said, just skip it--we wouldn't want somebody to become hooked on booze because they read on the weblog that one beer per day was a good source of dietary silicon.

So, you didn't read it here. And don't anybody go printing this out and mailing it to Olla, either!

Anyway, next on the agenda was a trip to the gardens outside the nursing home. Many of the plantings were done by my Grandpa, Olla's brother Melvin. Olla goes out there to sit on the bench each day, and she wanted me to see what it was like. Indeed, it was beautiful and quiet.

After that, we went to the post office, the used clothing store, the grocery store, the Fertile Journal, the hardware store and the cafe. In and out of the pickup several times. Olla is more agile than she has been in many years. I think it is due to all the exercise she gets at the Hilton.


Warren Buffett, one of my heroes, announced today that he is giving about $37 billion of his fortune away. He will still have around $7 billion left. At age 75, he should be able to get by.

Buffett is a humanitarian and always has been. So is Bill Gates, the world's other richest man. Their combined billions will be used to help the poorest of the poor in third world countries.

Bill Gates has shown a knack for getting good bang for his philanthropic buck, using his money to immunize children in poor countries, amongst many other things. Buffett wouldn't give Gates a dime if he didn't know it was going to be well spent.

Buffett has always been an advocate of a 100% inheritance tax. The second richest man in the world, if the tax were introduced, wouldn't be able leave a dime to his own two children.

In fact, Buffett has provided for his children--but he has not felt the need to "flood them with cash," to use his phrase. Each has had to make their own way in the world.

But true to his long-time promise that most of his fortune would go to charity, Buffett has give a gift which dwarfs the philanthropic efforts of Andrew Carnegie and J. D. Rockefeller.

June 25, 2006

More art

Here are a couple of the works of art I referred to when writing this week's column.