Friday, May 05, 2006


Ottertail County

Yesterday I went on a long scenic drive on the Ottertail County Scenic Byway. I saw a lot of beautiful Minnesota scenery. Flat farmland, rolling hills, and hundreds upon hundreds of lakes. Ottertail County, where I'm staying for the month of May, has the largest number of lakes of any county in Minnesota, which itself is the state of 10,000 lakes. Ottertail County-ites claim there's a thousand lakes here. My Moon Handbook claims there's just 784, but in any case, that's a whole lot of lakes for one county. They are most beautiful, to my mind, when they are nestled in the gently rolling glacial hills.

Yesterday I also learned firsthand what small-town living really means. After my scenic drive, I stopped by the New York Mills Creamery, the main coffee shop and one of only three eateries in town. They're only open during country hours--9 to 5:30, so I tried to make it there to do some writing before evening. I said hi to Jack, one of the two proprietors, and he laughed at me for my city pickiness: I asked to have the envelopes Big Train Chai specially prepared with steamed milk rather than the good old Oregon chai they had prepared behind the counter. While I was writing, Dan the mechanic from next door stopped in to see me. He did some work on Serendipity (my beat-up silver Honda Civic) two days ago because I'd had an unexpected meeting with a speeding steel plate on the road between Iowa City and Minneapolis. He was looking for me because he thought he may have left a bolt loose, and wanted to double check. So, seeing my car parked at the Creamery, he stopped in personally to find me, borrowed my keys, drove my car to his shop, confirmed that the bolt had been tightened, drove the car back to me, and handed me back the keys. Now that's personal service.

Then, Jack told me that he knew all about my canoeing plans for the weekend. And later three separate town locals sought me out to let me know that the Thursday night ladies' card game I had been invited to would not be held this week. I'm a little amazed at the whole small town experience here. I've been in cities for all my adult life, and spent my teenage years in a large suburb. So it's unfamiliar, and still quite charming, though I hear it can get old pretty quick if you live here for long.

Thanks to a comment of Jack's during my conversation with him, the rural scenery in Minnesota, my first ever purchase of a fishing license, and a few other influences rolling around my unconscious, I wrote a song yesterday called "You found me." And, thanks to the joys of Audacity open source recording software, I did my first demo recording ever on my computer. If you're interested, you can listen here: You found me (right click and select "save as" to download onto your computer).

Today, I am off on another adventure: a three-day canoe trip on the Crow Wing River. I expect that I'll have a lot to write about when I return. Till then, be well.

I really like your new song. Keep 'em coming! Sounds like you're having a nice time out there. Miss you! jenn

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