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Prairie Notes: Reaching the end


Fri, Jun 6th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

By now, the last textbooks have been turned in, the lockers emptied of all but the bit of tape that held this year’s photos, and band members have rid themselves of the last vestiges of "Pomp and Circumstance" that played on and on in their brains after the thirtieth or sixty-fifth or eighty-eighth graduate finally reached the stage. It’s all over but the extra four pounds of potato salad staring guiltily from the ice cream pail every time the fridge is opened.The ritual itself may have convinced a few graduates that the past thirteen years have finally become "the good old days," but some of us know the truth: although seniors note count-downs such as the last home football game; the last senior essay; and the last choir concert, school has ended for all of the students for this year. Next fall when graduates enter the building only to find that the English room is now the math room or that one of their favorite teachers retired, then it is real. Even though everyone else seems glad to see them, everyone else has three minutes to get to class; for many graduates, that signals the change. Only then are they alumni, not students. Then begins another count, when time propels us from the one-year anniversary of graduation to the fifth-year class reunion to the twentieth reunion, defying science by actually making each successive year shorter than the one before. Playwright Thornton Wilder claimed that only rarely were the rituals of everyday life interesting. Yet they do hold interest for us. Each day of those thirteen years of growing and learning together may not have held memories, but it doesn’t take much to make a conversation with strangers about high school. "We had a kid in our class who had the funniest laugh" or the strictest parents or the best excuses, and you have an hour’s worth of reminiscences.It doesn’t matter that over the years you cull the stories to the same ten or so, or that you may have embellished them a bit. No one but your mate and your siblings will ever know, and they can hardly complain because they have their own few stories that have a way of showing up as regularly as a telemarketer’s call at dinner. Your children may not realize it, but they will soon find their own school stories to recycle as well.Kindergarteners never begin that first day of school consciously thinking, "I’ve got to make some memories here." Older students may often be more concerned with racing r .....
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Of People, Places & Things: Bandit country

Fri, Jun 6th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

“Jesus, Liu, what do you have that for?” I asked in English.   My astonishment was quickly translated into Chinese for Liu, who just a few seconds before had pulled a sock out of his pocket. Inside the sock was a handgun.[Read the Rest]

Notes from a country kitchen

Fri, Jun 6th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

I was gone again, there’s so much going on. My sister-in-law, Carol, took me along to Rochester Saturday afternoon as her granddaughter was in a dance group at the Mayo Civic Center. I had never been there before, what a lovely place. It lasted from ..... 
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Notes from a country kitchen

Fri, May 30th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

Today as I write my column it is May 24. I always write a week ahead, then send it through the mail so you can read it on Monday. Today, May 24, is special as it was my parents wedding day and they were married in 1917. My mother always said it was a ..... 
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Another One From Flaherty: Sam moves in and there goes the neighborhood

Fri, May 30th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was a time of light, it was a time of darkness when Sam entered upon the scene. He was a young dog less than a year old when he came from nowhere to make his home with us. When I took him to the ..... 
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Township Roads: It's Eleanor's Fault

Fri, May 30th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

Sheep grazed the lawn of the White House until well into the FDR administration. I suspect it was Eleanor who decided that it was time to get rid of the livestock. That set a bad precedent for lawns and the mowing that inevitably followed. If sheep s ..... 
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Journal Writing Project: Jamie Rose Howe

Fri, May 23rd, 2003
Posted in Columnists

Last night when I was driving home from my graduation party, alone in the dark, I could only see a few hundred feet in front of my car. I couldn’t see the turns up ahead, or the hill I have to climb, or the deer, or the large crack in the road. I the ..... 
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Fourth Annual Bluff Country Bird Festival

Fri, May 23rd, 2003
Posted in Columnists

Have you ever wished for the excitement of seeing something again for the first time? That's how I feel about the migrating warblers, small colorful songbirds that flit about in the trees eating insects. A friend of mine calls them "flying works of a ..... 
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