As I roll to a stop atop a hill on the bike trail, quilt blocks of farmland dot the slope above me. It is a perfect time to muse on this column topic: gatherings.
The first gathering we recently attended was the Cory Tammel Benefit. Numerous people were gathered together; in fact the roller-skating rink at Wheelers was filled with people playing games, competing for the numerous silent auction items, eating, and catching up on the news. People were gathered together for a common cause: to help someone, a friend, a relative, a member of their church, a member of their community, who needed their support. A comment that resonated was that the response to help this young man after his accident was unbelievable.
The second gathering we attended was the Fillmore County Special Olympics Eagles Fundraiser. It was clear everyone had a good time eating, visiting, and listening to the catchy tunes of Elvis, delivered in a soul wrenching way. Personally, the highlight of this evening was when Brad Boice lined up many of the athletes on either side of him, and they gently swayed to the music as Elvis crooned to them. Gilbert even got a little attention from the young woman made up like an artsy kitty, at the face-painting booth. I joked that a different dog might chase this cat, but of course Gilbert is too well trained to chase little furry animals. The evening was a huge success and will enable the Eagles to participate in different sports and enjoy the social life of getting together with the other athletes, coaches, and the family and friends that cheer them on.
We always look forward to a future gathering at the Cedar Valley Resort in Whalan, during the crisp weather of fall. Family and friends gather together to share their stories, watch the many children play games on the lawn, and renew their close bond forged over the years.
Last year I wrote of Gilbert’s connection to Charlie, now five, who is autistic. Charlie first showed his special relationship to Gilbert at the cabin, as the two of them spoke their own silent language. Now Charlie has his own service dog, Sunny, a well-trained German Shepherd. Sunny and Charlie already share a special bond. Sunny will provide comfort and safety to both Charlie and his family in the years to come.
Another noteworthy gathering, near and dear to my heart, Empty Bowls, will take place on November 12 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Harmony Community Center. The idea is to fill empty bowls in Fillmore County, one of the two poorest counties in Minnesota. However, the event has become so much more than a fundraiser. The artisan bowls are displayed for contributors to choose for $20 each, then washed by youth, and filled with an array of delicious soups prepared by local restaurants and bread made by Gundersen Harmony Clinic. There is a sense of shared purpose, but also a sense of camaraderie. If you’ve never gone to Empty Bowls, it is well worth your time. It is a Fillmore County gathering, as all the proceeds go to the Fillmore County Food Shelf.
Each gathering is special in its own right, but all showcase the goodness of people and life in small towns, in our own little corner of Minnesota.
Tami’s Apple Crunch
8 cups tart apples (or 8 medium)
1 cup brown sugar (can use brown sugar Splenda)
1 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup butter
Arrange apples in a 9”x13” cake pan. Cut butter into the dry ingredients until crumbly. Put mixture over apples. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Good served with whipped cream or ice cream. Tami was my college roommate years ago, but I still use this quick and easy recipe.