"Where Fillmore County News Comes First"
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A small world


Mon, May 22nd, 2000
Posted in

May 15, 2000

"This is my letter to the world,
That never wrote to me,--"
~Emily Dickinson


An Amish buggy stops beside me on the Big Woods road. Its occupants introduce themselves as Jacob and Sarah Byler and their children. Jacob asks if I am the person who writes about the woods in the "Fillmore County Journal." He says they read all my columns. We talk about their
family, the dry weather and Sunday visiting.

On another day, two women stop to ask directions to Clara Vickerman's home place. The directions are easy to give as Clara's place borders our land. The driver says she is Clara's great granddaughter. I tell her I knew Clara when I worked at Green Lea Manor. She asks if I'm the one who wrote about the nursing home for the "Journal." She tells me her grandma, now over one hundred years old, enjoys my columns.

Over the years, Clara's place has been home to several people including the eccentric Charlie Starks who lived there in a two-story dwelling he built from a car. Charlie visited me one day to talk about the Big Woods. From my columns, he knew I care about the woods as much as he does.

Writing for the "Journal" gives me great pleasure; it makes me feel more a part of my community than ever before. Through it I have met new people, renewed acquaintances and have been given opportunities I wouldn't otherwise have.

An especially interesting opportunity was an invitation from Donna Rasmussen to be on the Fillmore County Water Planning Citizen's Advisory Committee. The expertise I witnessed at my first meeting gave me respect for the complexity of water issues and made me realize how much I have to learn.

My story about Rueben Blagsvedt and his notorious son Pancake brought many comments. One was from Bobby Norby who said he believes Pancake got his Indian artifacts by robbing graves. While we looked for an Indian grave he knows about on my land, Bobby told me more stories of the Big Woods.

After writing about Alden Risser, the former Stewartville physician and birdwatcher whose favorite birding spots were in Fillmore County, I had a good visit with my neighbor Olive Peterson. Olive is a nurse who lived and worked in Stewartville for many years. She said she knew and loved Dr. Risser, as did all the people in that town. Another response came through the Mayo Clinic when a secretary looked at my name and asked, "Are you the Nancy Overcott who writes for the 'Fillmore County Journal?' " She said she sends my column to her son, Josh Rudlong. I told her I had met Josh on birding trips with Dr. Risser.

One day, I entered the "Journal" office in Preston just as the phone was ringing. To my surprise, the call was for me. It was Edna Thompson from Lanesboro. She had just read my story about Stella Lund, a former area
schoolteacher. Edna said she was a student teacher under Stella at the Prosper school and that Stella was one of the most influential people in her life.

Before I left the "Journal" office that day, John Torgrimson gave me a letter from Marie Winckler of Canton. In response to my views on hunting, she sent me an excerpt from Thoreau's essay on hunting.

Soon after Marie's letter, I received a call from Kinsey Anderson, the person who donated 204 acres of land near Amherst for the Hvoslef Wildlife Management Area. He said Marie had been sending him my columns and he wanted to tell me how much he enjoys them. I told him about Dana Gardner, the world-renowned bird artist who has offered to illustrate the Hvoslef journals. He said he would like to meet Dana who lives near him in California, so I helped make that happen.

The call from Dana Gardner last summer was perhaps the most dramatic response I've received. I couldn't have asked for a greater compliment than his offer to illustrate my columns. I finally met Dana face to face at the recent opening of his exhibition at Cornucopia.

To top it off, I received a call from the famous author Neil Haugerud after I wrote a review of "Jailhouse Stories."

In writing for the "Journal" I sometimes think I give too much of myself away, but mostly I feel like Emily Dickinson writing a letter to the world, only this world has written back to me.

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