After an incredibly busy Summer, I finally updated the Image Gallery with a few images dating back to June. Below are the images that I’ve added, but also check out the full Image Gallery above.
Roughly an hour north of Chester, Iowa is Rochester, Minnesota. A little under 40 minutes south of Rochester is the small town of Spring Valley, Minnesota, which is then surrounded on all sides by corn and soybean growing country. It was to this farming country that some good friends moved in mid-June, and so it was to this farming country that Becky and I traveled in order to be of help in their move. While it was my first time visiting Minnesota, it certainly wasn’t my first time visiting farming country. So while the newness of the place was present, so too was the feeling of knowing this way of life, and ultimately this place.
Farming country is a land of dichotomy. While it’s a land that is vital to our survival, it’s also a land that we often have little interest in seeing, let alone visiting. It’s a place where time seems to simultaneously move slowly or be frozen entirely to those from the outside, and can’t move quickly enough for the farmers watching their calendars. The land is flat and repetitive, yet the cycles that can bring forth life and growth are anything but. Across the landscape there are monuments to the good years: barns, silos, towers, and machinery. And yet, so often these monuments bear the marks of the not-so-good years: chipping paint, encroaching rust, weakening decay, or complete collapse. For those who make their living off of the land, their life is a balancing act between unwavering hope and perpetual worry; between having nowhere to be and not enough time to get everything done. It is a place stuck somewhere in the middle of what was, what is, and what could be.
It’s a beautiful place.
My dad sent me a text last Sunday, August 4th, suggesting that I post a Sunday Jazz link since August 4th is the birthday of a Jazz icon. Because I was away from the computer most of the day, I decided to wait a week to take him up on his suggestion.
The artist in question, born August 4th 1901 really needs no introduction. If you don’t know the name, you probably know the voice, and if you don’t know the voice, you almost certainly know the song. The combination of his brassy, innovative style on the trumpet, his unique voice, and his knack for showmanship enabled him to rise from humble beginnings in New Orleans to international fame during an era with few international stars. The artist, of course, is Louis Armstrong–also known as Ole’ Satchmo. Armstrong was so well known and respected that Duke Ellington once said about him, “He was born poor, died rich, and never hurt anyone along the way.”
As far as videos for today, the obvious choice was the one that has continued to bring Satchmo’s name into our cultural vocabulary even today: “What A Wonderful World.” But, since Armstrong only sings on this particular video, I figured we needed one with a little trumpet and showmanship as well. The obvious choice for that video is a song that is almost as equally linked to Armstrong as it is to the city of his birth, New Orleans: “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
I hope you enjoy a double dose of Satchmo on this fine Sunday….
My wife has always talked about the value of raising a garden at home. She would talk about the need to dig in the dirt and raise vegetables in a way similar to how I would talk about my need to chase trout on remote mountain streams. Occasionally she would also mention the financial and health benefits of growing food from seed to table. I never paid much attention. Until this year.
I have a few husband-type excuses for this. While we were dating, her garden was down the street from her house, in a neighborhood P-Patch. Since it was out of sight, it was also out of mind, except for the occasional statements like, “hey, you know this _______ came from the garden, right?” In our first year of marriage my role with the garden was more in the manual labor realm: I built the boxes that would become the raised beds, shoveled dirt into those beds, helped stake and tie the peas, and dug some potatoes. That was about the extent of my interaction with the two 3×8 boxes of dirt that brought forth a wide range of foods that I eventually consumed.
For whatever reason though, this year it’s all clicked. Perhaps it was as a result of the fact that we haven’t bought lettuce for 3-4 months (and not because we aren’t eating any). Maybe it’s because there has been several times where a sentence like “can you run to the store and get some kale” has been replaced by “can you run outside and cut some kale?” Or, maybe the clicking moment was just a short while ago, when walking around our backyard I realized that over the week or so we will be able to go outside and grab a handful of the following: lettuce, kale, carrots, tomatoes, beans, blackberries, and small strawberries. A few weeks after that we’ll have collards, radishes, squash, beets, a few raspberries, and chard. Basically I’m saying that our backyard is becoming our supermarket…and I dig it. Pun intended.