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Thursday, October 2nd, 2014
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Rain-filled Family Reunion


By Loni Kemp

Fri, Jun 28th, 2013
Posted in All Columnists

The rain just wouldn’t stop, but neither would the family reunion. Planned for two years, our rendezvous was fast approaching as 35 members of our clan ranging from one month old to 88 years converged from Colorado, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Texas, California and throughout Minnesota. Arriving by plane and car, we all made our way to Cedar Valley Resort in Whalan. This was our first time hosting the bi-annual event, now in its 28th year.

Those coming from arid climates were astonished at our jungle atmosphere. Humidity was high while evidence of the half-foot of rains we had just received the past two days showed up in wet fields and soggy grass.

After we happily greeted each other and settled in to our spacious and well-designed lodges, the first adventure at hand was to walk down to the Root River to see raging brown water halfway up the banks. Of course I felt compelled to point out this was brown due to unnatural erosion from farm fields using neither crop rotations nor no-till methods. It put our plans for tubing and canoeing the river on hold in hopes of clearer, calmer water over the weekend. Little did we know the rain was not yet done.

Friday night while everyone tried to sleep, another ferocious storm brought long rolling thunder, high winds and hours of down-pouring rain, a new experience for those from the mountains. Even we locals lay awake, worrying about our driveways and basements back home.

Saturday the rain eased off, but the Root River continued to rise. So, excited young adults headed out to Eagle Bluff for a high ropes adventure challenge, ending with a thrilling zip line back to earth. Others hit the bike trails going east, enjoying the lush scenery and glimpses of the cafe latte colored river.

The nice afternoon was a perfect lead-in to a barbecue at our home, 15 miles south. I was the first one home, shocked at the damage the night’s storm had done to our steep and curvy driveway. A bit of raking and it was passable. More folks arrived, pitching in to set up tables and chairs in the shade, set up croquet wickets, and prepare hamburger patties from Oak Meadow Meats.

During tours of the garden, glances kept going up to the rumbling black clouds to the south, but city people enjoyed the sheep and horses grazing in our meadow, courtesy of our neighbors. The feast of local foods was finally ready, and platters of roasted asparagus and burgers were set out, along with a huge garden salad in my biggest bread bowl. Afterward, rhubarb crisp topped with Kappers whipped cream was passed around and quickly devoured.

Just then, the storm broke as everyone hurriedly cleared the tables and brought the chairs inside. A brief hailstorm followed by a continuous deluge made for a cozy time of visiting throughout the house. As folks began to leave in the dark, we realized our biggest adventure was yet to come. It rained so hard that it was impossible to see more than a few feet through the whacking windshield wipers. Some of us took County 23 straight north to Whalan along Gribben Valley, only to find out the next day that a bridge washed out and campers were evacuated just after we passed by.

By Sunday morning, the main event for our crowd was viewing the now truly raging Root River, which kept rising. Huge trees, coolers, a set of stairs and many pop bottles roiled past, as we stood in awe of the power of fast water. Some took up biking or a walk to the Pie Shop, or sat around playing with the babies and catching up on all the family news.

Sunday evening provided a grand climax to our gathering as the clouds parted for a glorious super-moonrise. It did look bright and bold as light flooded over the wooded hills and the wide valley. Our bonfire brought us together. Our Saudi cousin-in-law was introduced to s’mores, which he later described as an ice cream sandwich but with roasted marshmallows. Several folks caught their first fireflies and were delighted with the calling frogs.

A successful family reunion needs all ages of people, great food, lots of laughter and some fun games. A truly memorable reunion also includes stunning natural wonders and the chance to tell those you love how happy you are to be with them.





Asian Sesame Dressing

1 cup olive oil

2 Tbs sugar

1 tsp sesame oil

1 T soy sauce

1/2 cup rice vinegar

2 T sesame seeds

3 gloves crushed garlic

salt and pepper to your taste



Note that measurements are not exact and ingredients are flexible. Shake in a jar. This can be used for salad, stir-fry, grilled vegetables, or meat marinade.

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