Home Again, Home Again

Jiggity, Jig! For this post, The Rural Farmgirl is returning to her roots as a Suburban Farmgirl, but we’ll see that I can’t stay away from rural places for too long.  I have been spending the last week in my home state of Minnesotaa–for the first time in over a year! Speaking of not being able to stay away from rural areas, I’m actually writing this from the grocery store, using their free wi-fi, because I am “up north” (as we say in the midwest) with my mom and nieces, spending some time at my mom’s internetless farm. Before my arrival, Minnesota had been experiencing weeks of rain. Fortunately, it has ceased and has left everything so green and beautiful! It’s good to be home, and my schedule has been (and will continue to be) jam-packed with big milestones and fun celebrations.

My mom and nieces getting ready for a nature hike at my mom’s farm near Crosby, Minnesota. Notice their outfits? These are true Farmgirls–want to stay stylish but keep out the wood ticks at the same time!

I arrived home on a red-eye direct from Alaska. The flight wasn’t that great–there was a lot of turbulence, and the legroom on the plane I was on left me feeling really bad for anyone over five foot six. Anyhow, the flight is largely over Canada, and at dawn I watched the landscape below gradually become more and more filled with lakes–I knew I was almost in Minnesota! Then, just past Mille Lacs Lake, there was a giant wall of clouds–huge, billowy cumulo nimbus beauties that grew and grew as we approached the twin cities. I was flying into the omnipresent cloud that had covered Minnesota for the better part of a month. it was pretty neat to see.

So, I arrived on a rainy morning, which made it perfect for snoozing away some of the jet lag from the flight. I also got to hear thunder and see lightning for the first time in nearly 400 days! Alaska is very good at some things, thunder storms are not one of them.

I stay at my mom’s house in the ‘burbs of Minnetonka when I’m home–this is the home I grew up in, and I still get to stay in “my” bedroom, however different it looks now. I got to sleep in “my” bed, and it was glorious. I was lucky enought that evening to spend some time with my too-cute-for-words nieces. They have grown up so much and I love being with them, I hate not being able to be home to see them grow up into such cuties. Nola (who is five and a half) is such a reader extraordinaire, and I’ve been informed of at least four loose teeth since getting home. Carolyn (she is three, her nickname is CJ), is talking up a storm and has more energy than everyone else in the family combined. They get along so well for being sisters, and Nola has immense patience for CJ’s antics. I am proud to be their aunt.

Nola (left) and CJ (right) ready at Grandma Mickie’s farm to go on a nature walk! CJ’s hat did not stay on long…

My first few days back, I also spent some time with a couple of friends walking around the nearby Lowry Nature Center. I used to go their a few times a year for field trips as a kid! It was neat to be back as an adult and as an environmental educator. I think they are doing a pretty good job!

Sadie stops for a cattail snack to share with our friend Johann from the Faroe Islands–not many cattails there! Sadie is one of my Foraging Farmgirl Friends. We also nibbled on some new shoots of stinging nettle, wild mint and yarrow. Yum!

Enjoying the view over a sunny lake WITHOUT being attacked by mosquitoes–another thing that cannot happen in Alaska right now (MN has its fair share of mosquitoes, but at least they are normal and don’t like the sun).

There are about seven painted turtles sunbathing in the early evening sun, too! Turtles are another novelty that Alaska doesn’t have…I love the diversity of the midwest!

After my adventures with Sadie, I spent the next day visiting the dentist office–which isn’t enjoyable to most. But, I love it! My dad is a dentist, so I’ve been going to his office since I was born.  My uncle (and god father) is the administrative assistant, and I’ve known a few of the assistants and other personnel for years. Visiting the office is always like a reunion. My one hour appointments often turn into several hours of hanging out and visiting with people. It was very enjoyable! I then got to spend the evening eating dinner with my step mom at the Good Earth. We had fabulous food and conversation, and we discussed some of the best books we’ve recently read (we are very similar for not being related…).

The dawn of celebrations started the next day (Saturday) with a small family reunion at my aunt and uncle’s house. They are great hosts with course after course of delicious finger foods and tapas prepared in advance and cooked on the grill. We had chicken satay, mussels, scallops, pizzas, quesadillas, more chicken and ice cream! Family came over and down from Duluth and Wisconsin and we had a fabulous time.

My father and I celebrated Father’s Day with a long bike ride out to my brother’s house. My dad ended up riding about fifty miles total and I rode about thirty. The day was gorgeous and we stopped for some ice cream (I’ve had a lot of ice cream on this trip) for a father’s day treat.

Next was my mom’s birthday! We ended up seeing a great Pat Donahue and Butch Thompson concert. I think I was the youngest person their by about twenty years…but I enjoyed it just as much as (or more than!) the rest of the crowd.

These non-stop celebrations keep on coming…

The next day, my mom, nieces and I drove up to my mom’s farm near Crosby, Minnesota. My grandfather lives a few miles from the farm in the house that my mom grew up in. His house is also next door to the house that my grandmother grew up in–this is a special part of Minnesota for my family.  I really wanted to go “up north” to visit my grandpa and to celebrate his 89th birthday!

A Great Grandpa and his Great Grandkids!

My Grandpa Jim and I–he doesn’t look anywhere near 89, to me! Love you, Grandpa.

It’s great being up here in the northwoods. I spent a lot of time here as a kid, and the sights, smells and sounds all have a hint of nostalgia for me. When I was little, my brothers, cousins and I would always run down to grandpas to get ice cream in ice cream cones. Guess what? He still has the same flavor of ice cream and the same kind of cones. My nieces got the same royal treatment as I did many years ago. I love these simple traditions.

For a break in the celebrations, my mom and nieces and I went a on a short hike to check out the neighbor’s cattle that we had been hearing all morning. CJ stated that the cows make a “honking” sound just like a big truck…I guess they sort of do!

Trying to catch butterflies…

…But all we caught was a cute CJ.

Picking daisies in a fallow field.

We finally made it to the cattle. They match the old farm equipment in the foreground. Do you see the adorable calf in the upper left! So cute!

{right here I wanted to insert a video of my niece discussing how much she loves baby cows because they are so cute and some of them get to be big sisters just like she is. The video is interrupted by me instructing her to stay away from the electric fence. It is a very informative video, however, I did not record it in a form that is allowable on this blog platform…Dang! You’ll just have to imagine the cuteness}

Going home for some water and a nap. This was a nice hike, on a nice day with nice people. Again–I love being home!

These have been my adventures in the midwest so far. This coming weekend I will be heading with Evan to North Dakota to celebrate his parents’ 40th wedding anniversary, as well as our sister-in-law-to-be’s bridal shower. The following weekend is my ten year high school reunion! Then we are headed back to AK for a return to normalcy. I think I will have had enough celebrations to last at least a few months.

I hope your long summer days have been full of love and fun, too! Let me know what you’ve been up to these last few weeks.

Sending you peace and love from Minnesota,

Alex, The Rural Farmgirl

  1. Cindy says:

    What a beautiful family!
    Have lots of fun!!

  2. bonnie ellis says:

    Alex: I wish I had known you were coming. You could visit our farmgirls. I live in Minneapolis and I was an environment teacher on Lake Minnetonka. I am so glad you are having a good time. Family is the best. Bonnie

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