Day #338: Old School Rice Lake

Avid history hunter-gatherer that I am, I am grateful to the archivists and historians who maintain Facebook groups for my communities, Old School Rice Lake and Flashbacks of Saint Louis Park. Many of these efforts are cooperative, but there is always someone at the helm who took the time to make sure we can all learn as much as we can. Have you discovered the Facebook groups for your communities?

El Lago Theater

Day #301: Happenstance

I am grateful for happenstance. Don’t you find it amazing that a bunch of things find a confluence and magically appear in your life? Today, a dear friend sent me a link to prolong the pleasure of our recent drive through northern Wisconsin. Little did she know that it showcases the talents of a photographer I admire, the river I love the most, and the guitarist who I think is awesome because he is so versatile and carries all of this MUSIC in his being! Gary Noren, the St. Croix River, and Dean Magraw. Thank you to Nancy and Agate for this beauty in my day. (You must visit Agate Magazine to view this video. Because of privacy settings, clicking on the image below won’t work.)

Day #27: Limburger Cheese

Yes, you read that correctly. I truly love Limburger cheese. My husband wishes this were not the käse (inside joke). There is only one cheese factory left in the USA that makes Limburger in the traditional way. Few stores sell it. 

My statement, in a prior essay, about memories? As a six-year-old, I remember sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen at the oak table which now sits in our dining room, eating Limburger cheese with my grandfather. He would spread it on heavy pumpernickel bread, salt it (he salted everything), and then put raw onions on top. That, he proclaimed, was a sandwich. He would offer me some (without the onions), delighted when I ate it and enjoyed it. So of course my fondness for this cheese is inseparable from my love for my grandfather.

For my last birthday, Steve and our good friend, Lisa, treated me to a wish-come-true. We drove to my hometown where there is a cheese store that still sells Limburger cheese. We brought some home, with a fervent promise to my husband to never eat it when he was in the room and to clean up all signs that it had been eaten. Ah, what we do for love!

Day #18: Blueberry Picking

When I was young, my grandfather would coax us all into the car after the Fourth of July to hunt for blueberries. He had a pretty good idea where they might be. He’d pay attention to where forest fires had occurred, knowing that a few years later there would be a fine crop of blueberries growing on the forest floor.

wild blueberries

We each had galvanized buckets, stooping over to pick the plumpest berries, trying hard not to put more in our mouths than we dropped into the buckets. We knew we’d appreciate them in January and February. We picked in silence, feeling a part of the forest.

On the drive home in the car, there would be stories of brothers or sisters who’d gotten lost looking for berries, or someone who curled up in the sun, or someone who came back with an empty bucket and blue stains on their teeth and hands. My favorite story gave me shivers: bear cubs!

Somehow, going to the grocery store for blueberries doesn’t generate memories of sounds, smells, discovery, and laughter. And those berries seldom taste as good. I’m grateful for the experiences of picking berries in the wild. #ayearofgratitude

Day #8: Hometown

I will always be thankful for my roots in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. I was born there, I lived there until I was seven, and I spent every summer and holiday there until I was 16. It was my home, the place I still visit in my dreams. I breathe more thoroughly there. Growing up in a small town provided me with opportunities I didn’t have as a latch-key kid in the Twin Cities. This is a photo of Rice Lake with its 1926 Christmas decorations (before my time) that captures the spirit of this lovely gem in Wisconsin.

Rice Lake, WIsconsin, Christmas, 1926