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Dance of the Oyster


Fri, Dec 17th, 2004
Posted in Features

Christmas Eve was mostly about tradition, leaving out all semblance of good taste. I dreaded it and at the same time oddly looked forward to it. It was the only time of year I got to see the oyster dance, which was both beautiful and a little frightening. All the senses were reeling after that night. Scalded milk permeated the air and then the smell of something that didnt really seem like food. Oysters. Oysters and scalded milk made for a strange combination. You either loved it or really strongly disliked it. Traditional Christmas Eve oyster stew dinner.

Thankfully, there were three saving graces. Ham on buns, oyster crackers and candles. After settling in around the big table, the candles were lit and the lights turned down. There was the anticipatory hush. Cant start eating until everybody is ready. Quietly, almost in slow motion, ham on buns were passed and oyster crackers. Almost without notice the dance would begin. I think those of us who didnt really like oysters anticipated this moment more than those who did. Without looking up, spoons gently ladled up oysters and in smooth, almost breathless motions, the unwanted oysters slid into nearby bowls. Slowly at first and then with more meaning as the time to actually partake of the meal approached. Because then the dance would end. I, for one, did not want to see a gray mushy oyster gently breaking the surface of my soup bowl.

After the dishes were quickly cleared, everyone bundled up and crunched through the snow to the Methodist church for Christmas Eve service. This is the time one realizes that ones relatives cannot carry a tune. Perhaps it is the last vestiges of an oyster stuck in their throats and their voices are rendered horribly out of tune. Yet somehow they could still sing quite loudly. In stark realization one particular Christmas Eve, my own voice refuses to blend in, though no oyster danced down my throat that night. When we come to the part where everybody lights an incredibly small candle dressed in a flimsy doily, I am always amazed. Nothing ever catches on fire.

Back we crunch through the snow, ever loud in the silent night, back to the house where the strains and odor of the oyster dance lingers still. With any luck it will be gone by tomorrow. Some traditions are best left to linger on in infamy.



Candace Carlstrom, who grew up in Lanesboro, is a free-lance writer.

The Aliga Christmas hunt

Fri, Dec 17th, 2004
Posted in Features

December brought to an end the long rainy season in Aliga, Gabon, a tiny African village stitched haphazardly to the sandy Bateke Plateau. No electricity. No roads. I know. I wrestled a Land Cruiser out there in 1983 to build a Peace Corps school. Ea ..... 
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The Holidays in Fillmore County

Fri, Dec 17th, 2004
Posted in Features

Fillmore County is stereotyped as being dominated by Norwegian Lutherans who have a strong affinity for lutefisk and lefse. Nativity scenes and plastic Santas are the norm for yard decorations and an angel or a star tops off a well-lit Christmas tree ..... 
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Country School Christmas Pageants

Fri, Dec 17th, 2004
Posted in Features

Hello, hello dear audience.  Were happy that youre here.  And soon well entertain you with  Our Christmas songs and cheer.  Get ready for our progr ..... 
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Hallingdal Rosemaling

Fri, Dec 10th, 2004
Posted in Features

During April 2004 I had the pleasure of meeting my distant relative, Nils Ellingsgard, from Norway for the first time. Nils was one of the keynote speakers at the first international rosemaling symposium, The Art of Rosemaling: Tradition Meets the Cr ..... 
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Increase in market values drives Preston taxes

Fri, Dec 10th, 2004
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Preston City Council members completed their business in less than a quarter of an hour Monday night. This included the Truth in Taxation hearing mandated to allow the public to question the proposed budget. Only a handful of citizens were in attenda ..... 
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Fillmore County District Court

Fri, Dec 10th, 2004
Posted in Features

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Michael Floyd Reese, 23, of Spring Valley was charged with one felony count of fleeing a police officer in Fillmore County District Court on Tuesday, December 7.

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Lanesboro City Council Report: Council holds Truth in Taxation hearing

Fri, Dec 10th, 2004
Posted in Features

At the Truth in Taxation public hearing December 6, Council member Joe OConnor applauded the work of Bobbie Torgerson and Rita Peterson in gathering the budget numbers for the years of 2003 and 2004 so the budget for 2005 could be a good estimate of ..... 
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Advancements in medical technology improve in-home care

Fri, Dec 3rd, 2004
Posted in Features

Each year technology seems to just get better and better. From cell phones that take pictures to plasma TVs and hybrid cars, a vast majority of the new high tech equipment is not just for our convenience and entertainment. The medical field is also k ..... 
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