Country Scribe : Eric Bergeson's Weblog

April 23, 2010

Two Carews


A lighthouse at Eddy's Resort on Lake Mille Lacs stands out in yesterday's pristine sunshine.


Rod Carew patiently poses with an endless stream of fans outside of Target Field.

April 21, 2010

Target Field

Had a chance to run down for a ballgame, so I took it.

Twins won 6-0. Liriano was on. You could see the batters flailing at his pitches from down the left field line.

The park is also a winner. Every corner has something new, and every vantage point has great views.

Spent a good part of the evening walking around, seeing things from all the angles. The upper decks in left field are particularly good. The field is laid out right below you, and you can see the entire field.

They are going to make a lot of money on that ballpark, especially if the Twins keep on winning like they are. The place has character. It is homey, yet impressive in scale. The small lot forced the designers to improvise. There are catwalks and staircases and nooks and crannies galore.

The right field wall is going to be interesting. It has three different surfaces: the padded wall at field level, what looks to be a wooden wall above that, then higher yet, the limestone facing. The ricochet will be impossible to predict. Tonight, one ball hit a hard surface and bounced hard back towards the infield, forcing Cuddyer to run back to retrieve it. My thought is that on a ball hit to the wall in right, the left fielder should run like crazy to shallow right field to get the carom before somebody gets an inside-the-park home run.

As for the Twins, these strings of boring wins are what winning teams do. I mean, the Twins haven't really been hitting up to par and yet they are winning.

The reason?

Starting pitching. It all goes back to starting pitching. The Twins have five solid starters. If they keep coming through, this is going to be a fun season.

If Liriano keeps on like this, the Twins will have their ace.

Baseball is funny, though. It all could fall apart in a week.

That's why we keep watching.

April 20, 2010

Good Shepherd

Spoke at Good Shepherd Lutheran church to their senior group last night. Their senior group is 55 or older which hardly qualifies as senior in my book. I spoke there last year on the same day, and it was a lot of fun both times.

This absolutely crazy beautiful weather continues. Makes you wonder when the other shoe will drop.

Deep thought: Every time we get a cold spell, people say "so much for global warming!" Haven't heard much comment on this warm spell, however.

There were ashes falling on the nursery yesterday. I don't think it was from a volcano. Probably from one of the many grass fires in the area. The smoke was hanging heavy in Moorhead yesterday evening as the sun set. It was actually very pretty.

April 18, 2010

What a spring!

This beautiful weather means crazy busyness at the nursery. Yesterday was a busy, busy day. I gave three seminars and everybody else was running, trying to keep up. People are planting trees, mostly. Because selling trees is labor intensive (people rarely just pick them out on their own as they do with flowers), the longer the season means less stress at any one given time. So far, so good.

Each year, the same people return. Due to the distances involved, a person rarely sees them in between, so you get an annual snapshot of people as they age. Some never change. Others have declined markedly. Either way, they make their annual trip to the nursery if it is the last thing they do. Gotta have a donut.

April 15, 2010

Home schooling

A reader has asked that I explain my comment below that home schooled kids aren't as sullen and don't seem to have the barriers to communicating in a mature manner with adults that most kids in a public high school setting have.

I have observed this phenomenon many, many times at the nursery. For one thing, I have given tours to public school groups and to groups of home schooled children. There is simply no comparison.

In addition, I have identified families of home schooled kids without being told just by watching their behavior at the nursery.

It should be noted home schoolers are not all parts of obscure religious sects, so they are not easily identified by their clothing. Some of the home schooling parents are simply motived by a desire to spare their children the pain of high school. In some cases, the children were somewhat eccentric and were teased mercilessly in the public school setting. In others, the parents simply did not care to subject their children to the insanity of athletics being top priority, of prom, of all of the stupid societal rituals that are imposed on the high school experience, not a one of which I care a whit about either.

Now, it goes without saying that a lot of people who home school keep their kids home out of a desire to indoctrinate them into fundamentalist religion. As much as I am repelled by that motive, I still find those children to be much more calm, polite and well-adjusted.

I don't buy the notion that there is something valuable about the high school social experience. I found it brutal. I do not think it improved me one bit. If I had found a handful of friends in the neighborhood of all ages made through other activities things would have been just fine.

When good teaching occurs in high school, and there are a lot of good teachers, it happens despite the system, not due to the system.

If I were convinced that high school truly humanized kids, both through education in the arts and humanities and through contact with the world at large, I would be more inclined to prefer public high schools to other alternatives. However, whatever diversity there is in high school seems to split the students into competing cliques more often than it opens their minds.

College, fortunately, is a little different.

Home schooling doesn't always succeed, and I am not even arguing that it provides a superior education (although in some cases it may): All I know is that the home-schooled kids I have encountered have been almost without exception mature, calm and able to carry on a conversation with an adult.

I don't have any solution to whatever it is our education system (or culture) does to make so many adolescents sullen. I just know it doesn't have to be.

April 14, 2010

More talks

Yesterday I spoke to a high school English class which had read Pirates on the Prairie. They had written up some questions ahead of time on 3x5 cards, which was a good thing because they had no questions whatsoever for me that they were willing to state out loud. Sort of like talking to a wall.

There were two kids in the audience who engaged, smiled, responded: One from Spain, one from Brazil.

There is something about our educational system that kills the desire of kids to interact with adults, I am convinced. Or, perhaps it is something with our culture that causes high school kids to go sullen. Whatever it is, the barrier does not show up in home-schooled kids. And, in this case, it did not show up in two of the foreign exchange students in the room.

Then I went to Fargo to play at a nursing home I had never played for before. Interesting. You could tell the peer pressure was to not laugh or have fun. One lady started to laugh and covered it up when she saw she was the only one. Wow. It took a while to break through the considerable layer of ice. In the end, they let loose a little bit, but these people were suspicious. Very different from the Alzheimer's unit, that's for sure.

Swamp abuzz

Just stood outside for a few minutes listening to the birds. I watched a small raptor of some sort make a run at the bird feeder. He came up empty. While outside just now, I saw:

1) Woodcocks
2) Warblers
3) Goldfinches
4) Purple finches
5) Swans
6) Geese
7) Merganser ducks
8) Mallards
9) Red-wing blackbirds
10) Nuthatches
11) Chickadees
12) Robins
13) Grackles
14) Woodpeckers
15) Wood ducks
16) Harris hawk (perhaps)
17) Robins (of course)

In addition, there are swarms--I mean swarms--of mosquitoes. They should be good for the birds.

April 12, 2010


Performed twice at the Villa in Crookston today, once for the regular nursing home residents and once for the Alzheimer's unit. Wore out my voice completely.

I usually visit the Alzheimer's unit in the morning. Today, I didn't get there until 3:30. What a difference. They were more alert than usual, and pretty snappy with their fun comments.

When we did old hymns, one woman sang in harmony and knew the words.

Alzheimer's patients get into the beat. A nun announced that she wanted to dance. Instead, she sat and bounced to the beat.

I remain convinced that Alzheimer's patients, for all they have lost, gain certain linguistic and musical sensitivities.

A few days ago, one Alzheimer's patient said to me as I was leaving: "You'd better get busy so you aren't so busy when it gets busy!"

Utterly true! And poetically stated.

Music can rile Alzheimer's patients up, so it will be interesting to find out if they have a rough night tonight up at the unit.

But it is fun to watch some of them switch moods. One lady was looking everywhere for somebody when I came in. She couldn't get out who she was looking for, but it was obviously a miserable situation for her.

Well, once the music started, she sat in her chair and smiled the whole time, slapping her hands on the table to the beat. She seemed entirely in the saddle.

Because they like upbeat songs, I was wracking my brain for something bouncy. I was tempted to play the same thing twice. I don't think it would have mattered.